Everyone is busy. You included. Me included. But I hope that you will take just a moment to read this short story. I hope will touch your heart as it did mine.
We were slammed at the School of the Arts this morning. There were 71 students to be exact, and five teachers per session. You can do the math, but it works out to around 14 students per teacher. Fourteen students in classes that should have 5 or 6. Space is always an issue but we have learned how to double up and put two students at one piano, and we have learned out to share the five ukuleles with ten students. But we have not learned how to replicate our teachers so that we lighten their load.
This is where you come in. I can already hear you saying “but I don’t play an instrument” or I don’t work well with little kids.” Neither do I. So here’s my story. I was walking around taking photographs of our classes. I stepped into the room where the guitar teacher was working with about twelve students of all different levels. Some were having trouble even reaching their arms around the body of the guitar. And others were furiously taking notes on the chords they were being taught. I noticed a teenager at the back of the room kind of disengaged from the class. I just stepped up next to him and said “why aren’t you playing?” “I can’t,” he answered. I asked him what he meant and he said that he couldn’t figure out how to move his fingers from one chord to another. When the teacher took a minute to let the students practice what they were learning, I asked him if he could teach us any tricks for moving from one to the other. He showed us how to move only two fingers. The young man and I went back to work on those two chords, getting the first right and then moving to the other. I said “don’t worry about the rest of what he is teaching. You just work on those two chords – going back and forth.”
What I did was not rocket science. I would not have been able to move my OWN hands back and forth like he was doing. But I was a voice of encouragement saying “don’t give up, you can do this if you want to.” The boy smiled and thanked me as I left him to his practice. And I left the room with a tear in my eye.
I tell you this story for a couple of reasons.
1. It doesn’t take much. We need your help. Many of our teachers and helpers left for college in August but we have had an influx of students for our Saturday morning “free-for-all.” We have had between 50 and 80 students every Saturday morning. YOU can make a difference! And you don’t even have to have special talent to do it.
2. You may be feeling like you don’t have a place to “fit” or to “belong.” These kids will give you a place in this world. It may take them a few weeks, but once they get to know you, they will think you hung the moon!
3. I think God calls us to give out of what we have. He illustrates this story so beautifully with a little boy and five loaves and two fishes. What do you have in your hands today? Maybe it is just a smile and hug. Maybe you can teach basic chords on a piano. Maybe you can help the art teacher pass out pens and paper. Or maybe you are gifted musician or dancer who would find great joy in watching a child, teen, or parent learn to play.
Two hours each week. One week or more per month. Our students would be grateful. Our teachers would be grateful. And you would be blessed. I am almost sure of it!