As I was growing up, I always had a love for music, but didn’t have the opportunity to play, until high school when my parents bought me an accordian. This was a good start and I was so anxious to play that I learned to play it in just a few months. However, this was not exactly what I had in mind – I wanted to play an orchestral instrument – more specifically, I wanted to learn the violin.
When I first got married and my wife and I were discussing the prospect of having children, I jokingly told her that I wanted to raise a string quartet. She wasn’t overly enthused at the prospect, but in reality, I had a dream of being able to play music along with my children.
I had a goal of making music lessons a requirement at our house. I met a lot of people who said that they wished they had kept up their music lessons as a kid, but never met one that said they wished they had quit. Seven-year olds can’t see far enough down the road to make an informed decision that will affect the rest of their lives, so I felt it was my responsibility to decide for them. Both of my kids were required to take piano lessons starting at age 5 (My daughter was so excited about learning that she actually started at 4. Her older brother was her first teacher and they both loved doing it.) and were not allowed to quit until they graduated from high school. To my delight, both of them not only became proficient on the piano but also picked up a second instrument – my son plays the saxophone and my daughter the flute.
As time went on and both kids were progressing with their instruments, I decided to pick up the violin. After about a year of lessons, I lost my finger in an accident and progress was slow, but I still had my dream.
The first part of my dream came true when my son and I went to Mexico on a short-term mission trip. He took his saxophone, and I took my accordian. We played several duets for the churches down there. We had a great time, but I still wanted to use my violin with my children.
Several years went by, and my son graduated from college with a church music degree. He became the music pastor of a church in Michigan and wanted to do a cantata with full orchestra but he was short on violins. He asked me to play first violin in his orchestra. I was excited, and worked hard for months before the time came. Finally, the date arrived. We had a full dress rehearsal, and then performed the cantata twice. What a priviledge! To play in an orchestra under my son’s baton! A dream come true!
This was a milestone, but it was not the end of the journey. Playing in an orchestra is one thing – playing a duet is quite another. I continued my lessons and practice and little by little I felt my confidence and ability growing. About a year ago, I purchased a book of arrangements for violin/piano and started working on them. There was one arrangement that was particularly beautiful – “The Old Rugged Cross” for two violins and piano. I worked hard on this, and when I felt ready, I asked my daughter to play the second violin part on her flute. After we played it through a couple of times, she said “That’s beautiful, Dad. We need to do this in church. Do you mind if I ask them to put us on the schedule?” Little did I know it, but we got scheduled to play in one week. I was nervous, but felt confident that I could do this. The day came and we played the piece together with no problems at all! Here’s what my daughter had to say about the experience:
“Tonight I had one of the greatest privileges of my adult life: worshipping the Lord in song as I played a flute/violin duet at church with my dad. Not many daughters have the opportunity to play with their dads at all, especially as adults. And even fewer get the chance to serve God together in a church setting.
I am so thankful that my dad placed strong emphasis on music in our home, that he overcame astronomical odds to learn an instrument himself after losing a finger, and that God is now giving me the chance to use the musical talents He gave me alongside my dad, who is my inspiration.”
I was ecstatic! My dream had finally come true. To rephrase my daughter’s comment – God is now giving me the chance to use the musical talents He gave me alongside my two kids. I am so thankful!
We are very pleased to be a friend of such wonderful person who overcame many obstacles to become a musician. Jim knows the joy of worshipping the Lord in music with one of his children. Carrie & Jim have performed 4-hand piano duets in the past. May God continue to bless you for your positive outlook and as you use your talents for Him.
I am so proud to be your daughter! Praise God for the gift of music and the gift of family. Even better when those two gifts are given in tandem.