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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)

TITLE: The Music Lesson
By Lisa Graham


Sean’s footsteps echoed as he hurried down the deserted school hallway and halted before a door bearing the name “Miss Miramar.” He knocked and waited anxiously. Nearby, Mrs. Gibson, the custodian, hummed to herself as she mopped up spilled Coke.

Miss Miramar, a bespectacled small woman, ushered him in. “You’re late!”

“I’m sorry . . . I had to stay after Mrs. Bell’s class.”

“Having difficulty with Algebra?” She removed her glasses.

“I’d rather write an 80-page term paper than memorize theorems.”

“As I recall, the Pythagorean Theorem was perplexing to me, as well,” she smiled and changed the subject. “So, are you here to interview me for the school paper?”

“I have a list of questions . . . oh, no!” He fumbled vainly in his backpack and then looked at her sheepishly. “I forgot my list.”

“Don’t worry . . . I’ve been interviewed several times during my twenty-six-year tenure . . . I’ll rattle off the usual information while you take notes.”

“Thank you,” he humbly accepted the blank paper she offered.

“My favorite composer is Tchaikovsky . . . the first instrument I learned to play was piano . . . my cat’s name is ‘Mendelssohn’ . . . I teach chorus and have directed school productions of ‘Carousel,’ ‘My Fair Lady,’ and ‘Oklahoma,’ to name a few. . . my iPod includes everything from ABBA to ZZ Top.” Halting her recitation, she looked at him intently. “Am I going too fast?”

“I’m getting most of it,” he scribbled frantically. “What does music mean to you?”

She lapsed into deep thought. The silence in the small room grew. Finally, she spoke. “No other ‘reporter’ has asked me that question. I consider music to be more than words or chords on a page . . . it goes beyond the act of singing or playing an instrument. When building a choir, I don’t include the vocally gifted and exclude the tone-deaf . . . I thrive on the challenge of blending many individual talents to encourage unity. Choir members learn to accept and rely upon each other.

“Everyone has the ability to make music. Listen closely . . . it can be heard in the heartbeat of daily life . . . in the words, ‘I love you’ uttered by a spouse, a wayward child, or an estranged friend . . . the doctor who speaks the reassuring words, ‘your loved one will live’ . . . or the sweetness of ‘Mail Call’ to the ears of a homesick soldier.

“The words, ‘I’m proud of you’ or ‘thank you’ can be chords of sweet music to the hearer. For instance, do you students ever stop to thank Mrs. Gibson, or is she invisible to you? The music of kind words can be a soothing balm for a hurting soul, but, sadly too few people are willing to take the time to show appreciation. Music-making of any kind requires a giving of oneself, which can be difficult, but it has to start somewhere . . . even the most complex symphonies begin with a single note.”

Pausing, she looked at him earnestly. “Every article you write will begin with a single word. Your pen will strike a blank page. Each day is a blank page to start anew by not repeating past mistakes, and building a life’s work of giving the gift of music found within your heart that only you can play . . .”

She was interrupted by a polite rap on the door. “Come in!”

Mrs. Gibson opened the door and beamed. “Miss Miramar, I just came by to thank you for the iPod . . . it makes doing my job seem easier.”

Miss Miramar smiled. “You are welcome, Mrs. Gibson!”

As he walked to his locker, Sean saw the familiar hallways in a new light, more appreciative of the swept floors, empty trash cans, and the trophy case gleaming with fresh polish. He watched Mrs. Gibson as she made her way to where books, papers and pencils were spilling from an open locker. She patiently scooped up the items and replaced them neatly.

Sean called to her, “Mrs. Gibson?”

Removing headphones from her ears, she smiled at him.

“May I interview you for the school paper?”

With shining eyes, she nodded.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15 NIV).

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Member Comments
Member Date
Julie Arduini03/15/07
I especially loved the paragraph about how everyone has the ability to make music. Very nicely done!
Marilyn Schnepp 03/16/07
Such a delightful "behind the scenes" idea of what music means...loved the examples and the recognition of the Mrs. Gibson, the cleaning lady. Enjoyable read and well written!
Lynda Schultz 03/17/07
Great lesson here, well-told. Good writing.