Monday, April 30, 2012

Mentorship right under my nose

What a week last week was! Four school night's out can nearly do me in.  Each night was worthy: an ASA film festival, our Banding Together board meeting, the Miracle Project launch in San Diego, a Kingsmen gig, Young Life fundraiser and Prom!!  Yet, on the heels of these daytime highlights: Allie presenting her "senior legacy" (one of 7 voted by classmates), an IEP, extra rehearsals and of course the up-do hair appointment, nails and pre-prom prep, they created a dizzying array of highpoints necessitating several take out dinners and a do-nothing Sunday.

Life is full. Where to start?

How 'bout with a line from yesterday's sermon? Summarizing a sermon on discipleship, our pastor implored us to, "look behind you, and see who's following you." All of us have opportunities to mentor and be mentored.

I saw this Friday night. A group of young musicians, The Dudes' Bandslam, are steadily following Reid and his Kingsmen bandmates. The Dude's Bandslam has been together a little more than a year. They opened Friday night for The Kingsmen who've been gigging for five years.

Mentoring is one of the key buzz words embedded in the threefold mission of Banding Together: to give music therapy scholarships, mentorships and instruments to youth with special needs. We toil in trial and error to create the first chicken, or is it the egg, of a mentorship program.  Gaining momentum, we were just awarded a grant from WRAMTA for a series of Jam Sessions linking local musicians with kids. Another smashing success that's evolving are Soundcheck Jams with touring musicians at the Belly Up Tavern. They deserve a post of their own.

Try as we might, it seems the most solid example of mentorships is right under our nose. It was obvious last Friday night; The Kingsmen themselves are the mentors!  How often is this how God works?  His ways are mysterious and higher than ours.  While we're busy compulsively planning good things, He hits a pop fly into left field. His upside-down Kingdom way never ceases to surprise and delight me. It makes me laugh honestly, in acknowledgment that it is so much better than anything we could have asked for or even imagined--around any brainstorming board table.

Back to the gig: the Dudes' Bandslam played the first set at our coffeehouse fundraiser.  We do a series of 6 of these throughout the school year.  Local high school bands and jazz ensembles perform, invite their own following. By selling raffle tickets, we raise money and awareness for music therapy.  Each one is awesome in its own right, having a different flavor depending on the crowd and tenor of the band.

I'm biassed obviously, but the last one of the season is special because it puts our mission into 3-D. Kids--with autism, who've grown up with music therapy--are up on stage rocking the casbah in order to raise money so kids like them, but younger can get the same benefits. Innately, they demonstrate our mission better than any board member could articulate it. They embody the mission. It rocks!

So, this tongue-tied board member hopes you can see from the pictures what took place. A community turned out.  Their were so many webs of connection between the audience--from church from Miracle League baseball, from the chiropractors office, from Capernaum.  Everyone knew somebody. That made for a receptive, encouraging environment.  Nervous as they were, the boys had the crowd whether they remembered the lyrics or sang off key.  Dancing in the aisle and hooting was encouraged.  We--because I include myself in the bunch--were like a bunch of college freshman having our first beers at a frat house. Crazy and carefree...

The paparazzi rivaled a royal wedding. In addition to the professional photographer, Stacy Bostrom, who volunteered (her portraits of kids make me drool), there were 3 videos rolling, a couple SLR's, and every iPhone in the place. Again, whether they kept or missed the beat, this was going down in history. Note: these pics are from my phone; hers will follow.

By the time the second set came around, our partner sorority Alpha Xi Delta had collected $400.  The Kingsmen took the stage and brought it home. Reid took the announcements from there. As front man, he has developed a comfortable schtick telling the audience where else they perform and what he likes best about being in the band.  On a roll this time, he even gave the last call for raffle tickets and said, "we messed up" when one of the songs had a false start.  No worries, they are seasoned performers. One comrade mom who has known Reid since our boys were kindergartners riding horses was mesmerized, "I don't think I've ever heard Reid speak." Such is the transformational power of music--and the stage for him.

That's when I saw it. On the overstuffed loveseat sat the entire Dudes' Slamband squished together, almost on each other's laps. The four of them, elated their set was done, watched every move The Kingsmen made.  Wielding drumsticks in the air, they copied unabashedly showing us how mentorship works. Never mind the local pros, The Kingsmen were mentoring them--modeling how it's done--breaking down the next steps--showing rather than telling what it is to be a band.

They need to have an encore ready next time, for they brought down the house!  Everyone wanted more.  Adrenaline rushing through his veins, Reid broadcast to every lingering fan, "Mom, I did an awesome job! That deserves a treat." He doesn't need a microphone.  Once home, he remained on top of the world spouting off another historic one-liner: "Mom, I DO wanna do more gigs. When's the next one?"  The thrill of living one's destiny feeds on itself and can't help but be passed along.

This from the boy who hours before didn't want to go. No one would have guessed how nervous he had been beforehand.  I hope he doesn't remember either:)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  Hebrews 12:1-3

What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas ”; still another, “I follow Christ.”  1 Corinthians 1:11-13

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