Friday, December 4, 2009

Chicken Soup Month

Because it's December and we all love those feel-good stories, I thought I might try my hand at sharing a few good ones here and there throughout the month.

This story was told to me several years ago, by my father-in-law. He is an active member of the Rotary Club in Salt Lake City. This particular club sponsors a local inner-city elementary school, where most students are minorities, many of them refugees. These children have very little and so the Rotarians help by providing books, dictionaries, and other school supplies. One summer, the school's music teacher came to the Rotarians, asking for help to purchase violins for each and every student. This was no small undertaking, but he wanted to require that all students in the school learn to play the violin. He gave many reasons for such a request; it would help improve their academic achievement, it would give them exposure to the arts that they might not otherwise have... the list went on.

So the Rotarians, doing what they do best, dug deep into their pockets and managed to provide the school with violins for each and every student. The months went by and the Rotarians had moved on to other affairs, having somewhat forgotten about their generous donation. That is until the music teacher came back and asked if the students could perform a song for them at their December meeting. He promised that Michael Ballam, a well-known opera singer and Utah native would also be a part of the performance. The Rotarians were delighted and the date was set.

My father-in-law explained it something like this: "Michael Ballam sat at a piano at the front of the room. The students were standing between the various chairs and tables throughout the rest of the room with their violins. Michael Ballam began to play and sing 'O Holy Night.' The children accompanied him. There was a little girl, about nine years old, standing right next to my table. When I looked at her she had tears streaming down her cheeks as she played her violin. Then I looked around the room at the other children and all of them had tears as they played that beautiful song. By the time the song was over, we all had tears streaming down our faces."

This is a story that I have remembered for years. Can you imagine the impact it had on those kids? To know that not only were they not forgotten, but that they were loved. To have a chance to play a beautiful song with a professional musician; to hear the words and feel the message of that song: that is the magic of music.

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