At the Music Center at Strathmore, Levine School of Music's Maryland campus, May 15th, 2007...
Justin turned quickly to pose for me as we walked up the sidewalk to the dynamic, two-year- old concert hall & performing arts center, home to the Levine School where he took weekly lessons with classical guitarist, Douglas Rogers. Eager to get inside to warm up on his guitar, Justin smiled slightly and said, "Mom, only one picture, please. I really need to go." By now, he was used to me snapping pictures for our homeschool album.
This wasn't any old lesson. Today was his first jury evaluation -- a time to play for three professionals, to get "performance pressure" as it was sometimes called, to get solid verbal & written feedback from experienced faculty. He was outwardly calm, but I was feeling nervous for him. Typical mom. "I'll just wait for you at the homework tables ... & you know I'll be praying for you, Just," I said.
The twelve-year-old disappeared to find room 307 as I whispered a prayer for his success, & settled in at a homework table to read the next day's history lesson. Always toting a book bag, I had plenty of work to do ranging from looking at the boys' morning math papers, to preparing homeschool lessons for tomorrow. But I simply couldn't concentrate, so I decided to walk around.
I marveled at the 64-foot high glass wall in the Lockheed Martin Lobby, and felt the warmth of the spring sunlight pouring through the front of the building as I passed the cafe'. I pretended that it was a Saturday evening, that I Jay & I were dressed up to attend a performance by the acclaimed National Philharmonic or the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. I opened the front door to a stunning spring afternoon, snapped back to reality, & walked to my old van.
It seemed like the jury lasted a long time before Justin finally swung open the passenger door with a huge grin on his face. "Guess it went well?" I asked. After tucking his six-string companion into the back seat, he told me how he had performed decently, & that after the jury, he ran into Janet, a kind weekday volunteer with whom we had often chatted. He explained that in talking with Janet, he confided that one day he'd like to see the concert hall from a performer's perspective, having dreamed of the opportunity to be on stage and play his guitar. So, she walked with him through the beautiful corridors, opened the doors of the great hall, allowing him to sit on the stage to play a few songs to 1,976 empty maple wood and aubergine velour seats!
Ahh! I couldn't believe I missed this! But, I was glad that Justin got to experience the raw acoustics of the magnificent concert hall & hear the sound of his own music echoing through the high ceilings.
This memory would stay with him; the result being a new motivation to keep practicing, playing & performing. It represented the culmination of all the hard work and lonely repetition that Justin had experienced in past years. It was somewhat of a turning point in his fledgling, five-year music career.
Sometimes as teachers, as moms, we might feel that we're playing to an empty concert hall --- teaching in quiet obscurity without notice or applause, wondering if anyone's listening. It's just plain difficult at times -- difficult to keep going. I want to encourage you that God notices our faithfulness in all the seemingly little things. So, take heart; keep being faithful to the task you're called to do, remembering that when God calls us to something (teaching), He will enable us to do it, & will see us through to the very end.
... About the jury? Justin received good marks, but more importantly, a dream was fulfilled that day while making music on Strathmore's grand stage -- it was the impetus that would keep him going for many years to come...
And who knows if last week's phone call to let us know that he wants to minor in music at Liberty University had anything to do with that brilliant day in May? I definitely think so.
Justin's last jury at Levine School of Music, May 2012
May the Lord bless you as you continue to faithfully teach! With God's help, keep being a great mom!
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. --- Philippians 1:6