Written Spring of 2014
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Or better yet, if a song goes unheard, does it really matter? If music is not present in a child’s life and the child lacks proper instruction in singing, can the child ever learn how to sing a cappella?
Last Wed night I was surprised to see my oldest son, the one that in high school never sang in a choir or even acted remotely interested in singing, enter the church choir room. My jaw dropped and I just watched him in amazement find a seat among the bass section of the choir members. He sat beside his cousin and same age friend, Caleb.
Now I realize that kids often learn to appreciate things that they didn’t appreciate while living at home, like red beets and Cornish hens, but do adult children suddenly want to sing? In recent years, he has watched his cousin and younger brother go on choir tours to Europe and sing hymns in their spare time, but does that really make singing appealing? And how does one go about singing when he or she has not participated in it for many years. Is it ever too late to learn how to read notes and sing in parts?
Don’t get me wrong, Patrick definitely sang as a young boy. We played all the Wee Sing and Donut Man cassette tapes that were available and I remember when Patrick was 5 or 6, confidently telling my mother she had a gifted singer as a grandson, and that he would definitely make Touring Choir at Christopher Dock in the gap the Benner children had left behind. It was also around this age that I looked into a local nursery school program that encouraged music to gifted prodigies. But for the price, he would have been registered. Sadly, it didn’t work out as we had hoped and high school came and went without an opportunity to sing under the tutelage of Rodney Derstine.
After choir practice, my husband Ken took the burden of Patrick’s lack of singing expertise squarely on his own shoulders. He claimed it was his bout with dermatomyositis and his inability to sing for a few years that hindered the formational years of Patrick’s singing. Ken loves to sing and grew up in a singing family from Kalona, Iowa, one that often sang at church members’ funerals and weddings.
“Aww, Ken, it’s not your fault,” I said as I kissed his overly conscientious brow. Patrick just watched us with a smile on his face, insisting, “I want to learn to sing in 3 months.” In the words of a hymn, “Nothing is lost on the breath of God, nothing is lost for ever…”