Friday, October 26, 2012

I Am A Pastoral Musician

I asked a good friend
to offer the opening prayer
at the Choir Festival this Saturday.

Fr. Tom and I go way back.
He asked me
what was has been
the most significant things in my ministry
over these past 30 years.

Below is, quite literally,
the email message I responded with.
I decided to post here
and in my 30 Years In Music Blog as well.
I just thought
that those who read my occasional ramblings
on electronic parchment
might want to know
just what exactly
goes on in Rubi’s head.

The most significant things about my ministry
these past 30 years??

a few things come to mind. . ..

Learning to be grateful for many things,
. . . like years and years of classical piano study my parents gave me.
I hated piano lessons as a teenager,
but now can't imagine my life without it.
We sometimes walked to piano lessons with my mother
because my father worked swing-shift,
I think it was about 7 miles. . . I hated it!!!!
But today,
I am ever grateful my mother made us walk those miles
and made us take those piano lessons. . ..

gratitude. . . .I own a baby grand piano,
also a gift from my mother. . .
. . .What mother ever gave her daughter
a baby grand piano for a gift???

Learning what is my talent. . .
A lot people really don't know what their talent is.
Talent isn't necessarily artistic.
A lot of people don't know that either.
But what is my talent???
.. . is it really music?
But I'm more inclined to think
that it's bringing out the talent in others.
Sometimes they don't even see it.
I help them "see" that all things are possible.
Maybe music is the gift.
But I'm really inclined to think music is the avenue to something greater.
Bringing out the talent of others is the gift.
And even more,
bringing out the musical talent in others,
in turns, helps to bring greater gifts
that they didn't know they had.
 . . yes. . . music is the avenue. . .

The most significant thing?
The children.
Every parish I have ever served in
I have tried hard to develop a children's choir.
Some places had success stories to tell, others not so much.
80% of people who sing in choirs as an adult
sang in a choir as a child.
This is a music ministry no-brainer.
After 30 years,
I am graced by God to see and experience this statistic first-hand.

. . .and children are so free.
I love working with adults,
but adults always have an opinion. .
. . it's too fast, too slow, too high, too low,
it's a boring song, I don't like that song,
the other song was better, why do we have to learn this song. . .
Children just sing.
Children make you laugh.
And when they get it, when they really get,
the children will make you cry.

Even more,
I am a child of the 80%.
I sang in the children's choir once upon a time.
Who would have thought that a gazillion years later,
I would be living out the statistic
that I so often quote to others . .
 . . in more ways than one. . .

In the end,
I know that I am not just leading music
for Sunday to Sunday.
I am doing something
that will create the musician
who will one day replace me.
That director will come from the children.
80% of people who sing in choirs as adults
sang in a choir as a child.
And one of those children will actually grow up
to be the parish's music director.

the children are the most significant part
of my music ministry. . .

. . .another thought about things significant. .  .

Music in general.
A musician takes years to make.
And just being a musician
doesn't necessarily make one a Pastoral Musician.
it takes years to make a musician.

In recent years,
I've dedicated a part of myself
to help create musicians,
more specifically, pianists.

I teach at both
COMPAS - Center of Music and Performing Arts Southwest
Garage Cultural - Center of Music and Visual Arts.
And more recently,
offering lessons in my home studio.

While neither of these schools are on
an ecclesial acre of land,
I do consider it a part of my mission and ministry.
In fact,
some of my students have been my own choir members,
one of which will be a soloists during the children's portion
of Saturday's program.

But again. . .
it goes back to the mission
of creating the musician who will one day replace me.

I guess what I'm trying to say
is that it's not enough to know
that 80% of people who sing in the choir as adult
sang in a choir as a child.
It's not enough to form a children's choir,
to form the children in the music ministry.
I think it is also necessary
to form that young musician,
in time,
will be formed as a Pastoral Musician.

. . .while my ministry has had her ups and downs,
her fun pastors to work with
and her not so fun pastors to work with,
I wouldn't change it for the world.
I am a Pastoral Musician.
This is my Vocation.

. . and that vocation continues to grow and evolve
even after 30 years. . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
about the photo:
the musically talented hands of one of my piano students!