You Have to Look at the Notes

When I was in fifth grade, the band teacher came to our classroom and asked who wanted to learn to play a band instrument. I said I wanted to and signed up for the trumpet because it was the only instrument I remembered by the time I left school that day.

I went home and told my Mom I wanted to learn how to play the trumpet and she said, “Absolutely not,” and hauled me off to the music store where she rented me a flute. So I learned to play the flute, which was okay with me because the real reason I wanted to play in the band was because I got out of math twice a week for band practice.

In high school I still played the flute but I was really bad at it. I couldn’t read music at all. So I pretty much listened to everyone else playing and learned my part by ear. My audition placed me in last chair.

My sophomore year in high school I still got placed in last chair, behind two freshmen, which was embarrassing. I couldn’t understand why I was so bad at playing the flute.

One day during band practice I had an epiphany. I suddenly realized that all those black dots on the page of music actually told me what to play and how to play it. The page of music sitting on the stand wasn’t just there as a vague reminder of what to play. It spelled everything out in detail. I literally jumped out of my seat and exclaimed, “Oh, I get it now! You have to look at the notes!” The other students already thought I was pretty weird, and I’m sure that just confirmed it.

But for me it made all the difference in the world. In that one year I went from being one of the worst players in my high school band to one of the best. The following year I won a first place ribbon in Division 1A of the State-wide solo contest, and a competitive audition to play a concert solo with a nearby professional orchestra. The realization that you have to look at each and every note on the page and play exactly what they said changed my life.

Today I find myself wondering if that epiphany was God’s way of teaching me how to read the Bible.

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