At the age of 5 while sitting in Mrs. Sargent’s kindergarten class at Whiteman elementary school in Denver, Colorado, I remember vividly being given one of the most significant gifts of my life! While I do not recall the name of the 6th grade student that came to our class that day, I do remember distinctly knowing that at the very moment I heard her play the flute, I too wanted to play the instrument! So profound was the impact of this experience that I also remember asking my mother later that same day if I could begin learning to play the flute. I was told that this was not possible and that I would need to wait until I was in the fifth grade.
Five years later as a 10-year-old fifth grader I once again made my request known. This time, the time was right and my mother found a used, fifty-dollar student model, Bundy flute located in Cheyenne, Wyoming, which was subsequently sent to us on a Greyhound bus arriving in Downtown Denver, Colorado. I can still remember the bus driver unloading numerous bags and boxes and finally handing me a small cardboard box that contained the flute. The clarity of this memory remains vivid to this day! To say I was thrilled to receive my “new” flute would be an understatement! As I reflect back now with over five decades of history and experience playing this wonderful instrument, I am reminded that for me the gift I was given that day was one of desire and passion for the instrument and music in general! The ability to make something sounding remotely like music come out of the instrument was, as is always the case for any skills we develop, the result of persistent practice and discipline.
The gift of desire to learn, however, was truly God-given and remains intact and growing to this day. We are all given gifts and opportunities to develop skills in this life and we should never underestimate the powerful impact that these early experiences have on shaping our futures. If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle or simply an influencer in some other young person’s life, take the opportunity to invest time and energy in those precious souls by helping them develop their giftedness.
We recently had the distinct joy of having our daughter Elly and grandson Remy home for a very special visit. I had not done a very good job of preparing our house for the onslaught of perhaps the most inquisitive and energetic 17 month old on the planet! Throughout the week more and more of our kitchen cabinets and drawers were being imprisoned by an ever expanding a labyrinth of twine and thick rubber bands to prevent the inevitable & methodical dismantling of our kitchen. I also discovered early on that both my guitar and ukulele were on his highly sophisticated radar system and, regardless of my attempts to place them safely concealed in my closet, Remy‘s finely tuned sonar system inevitably led him to the objects of his intrigue.
We had some very special time together with Remy sitting on Gaga’s (Remy’s version of Grampa’s) lap as he explored the variety of sounds his chubby little fingers and hands could make on that small stringed instrument. Since the ukulele was really not something he could play without close supervision, my wife, also affectionately referred to as Gaga, bought him a small synthesized electric guitar. The remaining few days of our visit, Remy continued to explore his new found passion with the gracefulness of a Sumo wrestler and the determination of a marathon runner! I obviously cannot predict whether Remy will rise to the musical status the likes of Carlos Santana or Andre Segovia, but this one thing I am certain of, I will continue to support and nurture him in the positive pursuits of his life!
I am forever grateful for the numerous individuals God has so creatively used in my life as influencers. It is my great joy to give back to others the expressed gift of my musical desires. Throughout the weeks and months ahead I plan to share stories of my musical influences and experiences. In addition, I will also be sharing with those interested in listening some of the recordings I have had the privilege of being a part of.
Please click on the link below for a jazz rendition of one of my favorite hymns entitled: “This Is My Fathers World”.
Enjoy. Engage. Enrich.