When it came to saxophone, my Father was my biggest fan. It was embarrassing when I was young. He was always looking for places for me to play in public, long before I was comfortable with my horn or myself. He took on aspects of the stage-mother.
One of my first, father-induced, public performances was at our community center. Dad urged me up the concrete steps. At the front of the hall, an old woman sat at the piano. I had not seen her before. People called her Bessie and Dad told me she had been the piano player for the silent movies when my Granddad ran the Photoplay Theater in town. “She can play anything,” Dad said.
I stepped onto the stage, set up my wire stand and fumbled with my music. “What do you want to play?” Miss Bessie asked simply. I showed her the music. She took note of the key and nodded. We were off. She could play anything. And when I stumbled, she surrounded me with a cascade of notes and arpeggios, and brought me back to where I belonged. It was a blast! Better yet, the audience was both kind and amused. It must have been, for them, a little like watching a dog dance around a stage on its hind legs with Swan Lake playing in the background by a very good piano player. Dad, the dog trainer, could not have been more pleased. I remember his smile and his pride, though I was disappointed by his apparent lack of taste in music.
I came to endure public performance and, occasionally, to enjoy it. Love of making music has remained. I have been blessed to be able to play with musicians better than I for a very long time. The occasional public appearance still surprises and often pleases.
The Talent Show at All Souls is surprising and pleasing. Talents are varied. The audience seeks to encourage and enjoy. No matter how the performer feels about her talents, she can’t hope for a more congenial place to exercise them. Performers discover new things about themselves. It’s surprising to see the talents of those in our congregation and their willingness to share. Talent Show is a night of fun, fellowship and discovery—always ending with a poem.
I remember one little boy. “What instrument do you want to play,” his mother asked. “I think,” he replied, “I’d like to play that long black thing.” His first clarinet performance at the All Souls Talent show was a bit ragged. He was a rank beginner. But something was there. Something extraordinary. Later, I was his Mentor for Confirmation. We were talking about music which had taken front and center in his life and his dreams. And his success? “I have good fingers,” he explained. I guess! He cut a great, professional swath later on. His gifts transcended fingers, though fingers were important.
Some from our Talent Show go on to professional heights in music and the arts. All find a good place there to share the gifts we have been given, where, over time, people who care about us can see those gifts grow and glow. The show is a good break in winter and a sweet time of sharing. Better or worse—those daily judgments to which we all bow—recede and “you did it!” becomes the signal victory of the evening.
All Souls' Got Talent
Sunday, February 28, 2016
5 pm Potluck Supper (bring a main dish or a salad to share)