The Perpetual Gift of Music

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ~ Plato
by Pete Ferguson
It is 6:20 in the morning. I sit here typing on my computer listening to a very passionate rendition of “The Swan” by Camille Saint-Saëns from the Carnival of the Animals collection played by my 15-year old son Mark on the cello. In the background I can hear my daughter’s flute, but cannot pick up the tune.
Mark has much ground to travel before he is at Yo Yo Ma’s level, but I can feel his desire to play this most soulful piece with passion and a desire to be true to the piece.
At 5:00 I was awakened by the piano. Too lost in the world between dream and reality, I do not recall what he was playing, but it is the best way to start the morning slowly and at my own pace.
In another 30 minutes I will hear my two younger daughters duo practice – both sitting on the piano bench with Ashley facing forward playing the piano and and Abbie facing the opposite direction playing violin.
Abbie and Ashley do not play the same piece, in fact they will not even be playing at the same tempo. Quite remarkable as I am too easily distracted to attempt a similar feat.
This gift of a gradual wakeup only happens during the week.
As I lay in bed last Saturday morning at 7:40 am to a silent house I realized how much I will miss all of this in 20 years when my yet-unborn daughter will likely move out to pursue her life’s passions with her older brothers and sisters having long since moved out.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
My love for music began early. My father was a translator for university music departments traveling to Asia and so we would be invited to preparatory performances. I cannot recall the exact moment the spark ignited, but it has burned ever since. I started violin in third grade and piano I believe in fifth. Unfortunately I lacked the discipline to advance forward and when we moved at age 13, I put down the violin and have not yet taken it back up again although I play the piano from time to time.
As I watched the Super Bowl last week, with men in their 30s heading towards retirement (and many of them with physical injuries), it struck me that my children – if they continue the pursuit of music – will just be warming up in their 30s.
And I realize that like the Olympic flame, music is a gift that continues to be shared with others wanting to listen, wanting to also learn to play, or wanting to compose anew. And what a wonderful gift to enjoy.

The Power to Sit On Your Hands

“If Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer were alive today, we’d say they had ADD or a conduct disorder. They [boys] are who they are, and we need to love them for who they are. Let’s not try to rewire them.” — Michael Gurian

by Pete Ferguson

In our Boy Scout troop I am responsible for helping teach boys age 12-14. Lately the push has been to ensure the boys are the leaders, we are only to advise and help them, but we are not to take over.

I know I am getting wiser as I get older because I find I have a lot more patience to sit back and watch the show than in my earlier years.

Yesterday there was a very simple organization needing to take place. It was a bit comical to watch the circus of constant change as six boys tried to do something that should have been very easy.

Each wanted to weigh in their thoughts, take charge and change the order in which we were to carry out the task. I sat patiently, amused, and for once in my life – quiet. Normally I have an opinion, and I normally voice it quickly.

I am an expert at efficiency and like to see things done expeditiously.

But amazingly, I was able to just be. To just listen.

Eventually, they got it figured out and I did as I was told.

And I learned a very important truth – that while part of life is to march forward boldly with goals and definitive plans, when it comes to raising men, it is just as important to sit on your hands, keep your mouth shut, and allow them to make mistakes and learn from them.

It is as much of a science as it is an art. And I’m not an expert. But I have two boys counting on me to figure it out – to help them figure life out.

And it is a great lesson for me as I watch them learn.

A boy’s story is the best that is ever told. ~ Charles Dickens

Oh yeah … and I have a LOT to learn about my three daughters as well …