God's Bandwagon

I awoke this morning to the warbling and chirping of birds and was immediately reminded of the blessing I experienced last evening - this year's GGCA Spring Band Concert. As I told the band director, last night's performance was the one I had dreamed of years ago when I sat down with him and shared my vision for the band program. Allow me to explain. 

When I became the principal seven years ago, the school's longtime band/music teacher, the incomparable Mrs. Annette Bednez, had just finished her first tenure with the school. (She has since returned to teach elementary music classes and produce some incredible children's musicals.) She left behind a band program that had participated in local parades and had performed in malls, nursing homes, at conventions, and on the stage in our church. She introduced many students to all sorts of instruments and her students loved her and strove to meet her standards for excellence, and this was evident in their fine playing.

When Mrs. Bednez left, there was a big, gaping hole in the GGCA band program, and we chose to fill it with Mr. Rob Smith, a GGCA graduate that I knew as a great bass player in our church band who also played jazz with guys from the church in various venues. He had, to my knowledge, never taught before, but he had the time and the enthusiasm, and he was willing to work for the little money we could afford to pay him.

In short, it became obvious that Rob Smith was no Annette Bednez, and some students who had grown up under her tutelage decided to stop playing, much to their parents' concern. I was concerned too, but strangely unconcerned also, because God was telling me to wait and see what He had in mind for the band program. I decided to trust God. I also asked God what was His vision for the program and He said, "What is the mission of your church? What is the mission of your school? Do they align?"  That is when I called Rob into the office for a talk.

I told Rob that I believed that GGCA should be raising up the next generation of worship leaders, that our church would always need people who could play drums,keyboards, and guitars of all sorts, and that people who could lead in worship would always be in demand. What I have always loved about Rob is his willingness to be led as a leader. He said, "Whatever you want, Boss," and went to work with this new direction. He started guitar classes, started preparing students to play in our Wednesday chapel services. It wasn't always pretty at first, but from humble beginnings, amazing things come.

This year has been a banner year for music in our chapel program. Esther Jones on piano or bass, Jon Reynolds on drums, Lydia Foekens on bass or guitar, and, lately, David Castro on guitar too, have been our band, and Destiny McBurney and Emily Janssen have been faithful worship leaders. Students have been entering into worship more freely and openly with their fellow students leading them, and there have been times I have sensed the presence of God powerfully in that room has we have praised and worshiped His name.

It took seven years to get to the place where we arrived at last night's concert. It was joy from start to finish and the Holy Spirit was manifested in each singer and player's performance and in the response of the audience, which was the largest in all the seven years we've done this concert. As the last song, "This Is Amazing Grace" was being played, I looked at the crowd, saw the smiles on their faces, and said to myself, "The band program is back, and it is cooler than ever." I loved the way the students in the audience loved their friends up there on the stage and cheered, whooped, whistled, and clapped their appreciation. The moms and dads were beaming.

As I walked across the parking lot, I told God, "Well, maybe that's one thing I can look back on and think I got right as principal of GGCA. If I did nothing else with my time but help set a new focus for our band program, then it was worth taking the job." 

Thank you, Lord, for Your direction and for sending Rob Smith back to GGCA to be the man behind our band program. Continue to move and work in the hearts and lives of students through this program. Lead more students to jump on the bandwagon. Amen.

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