-Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
I had the privilege this weekend to participate in a surprise retirement celebration for my former band director, LaRue Anderson. He has been a band director at Arnold Magnet Academy for 38 years. In that time, he was also the band director at a few elementary schools. I learned at Blanchard Elementary School how to play the flute, thanks to Mr. Anderson. Then I progressed into junior high (it’s name back then) and continued into the concert band and jazz band (played keyboard there). I also took private flute lessons from him.
It was a Mr. Holland’s Opus moment. His family of four children, and their spouses, along with his wife planned the event for him. Part of the planning included trying to gather as many of his former students as possible to rehearse Saturday morning for a mini-concert as part of the festivities. As much as I tried to talk myself out of participating, I couldn’t do it. I just kept thinking about how much this would bless him. I even went so far as to think how different I look now as opposed to then. Hello! What person does look like they did at 13 years of age? Good grief. So, I had no excuse. The calendar was clear, my flute in excellent condition, and my fingers able to remember the fingering. No excuses.
I went and am so glad I did because it was in those couple of hours of rehearsal and then the actual event that by participating in blessing someone else, I received a blessing as well.
As familiar faces entered the band room (which seemed way smaller than I remembered) it was reunion time. It was as if I could see the child they were entering the room instead of the adults they had become. It was really neat. It almost reminded me of episodes of Cold Case that air on tv these days. Unfortunately, the show centers around some type of crime, such as a murder, that was committed years ago and the case has grown cold as no leads cause it to go unsolved. Part of every episode is showing what the people looked like back in the day. Yesterday, the only crime that occurred was my butchering the songs. I played much better then under his direction and my commitment to practicing.
One of the two years I was in the band at Arnold, we won a state competition and recorded an album. They played that album as the background music for a powerpoint presentation. I had forgotten just how well we played. It took lots of rehearsal hours and fundraisers to get us to that point but we did it and it was worth it. That man poured his life into us. Yet, we still saw the value of family in his life and the priority they were (still are).
As the reception continued, former students had an opportunity to speak about Mr. Anderson. In doing so, blessing after blessing was heaped upon him and it was a delight to watch his countenance as the blessings poured forth. It was a time for building him up and it was time well spent.
The blessing for me came from watching him be blessed. The first song he ever conducted at Arnold was the fight song and he had said that would be the last song he would conduct. The alumni band rehearsed the fight song under Gavin Anderson’s direction. Gavin is his oldest son. Mr. Anderson was informed that he needed to conduct the alumni band in one last run of that fight song. Seeing his expression as he conducted took me back to good times and blessed my heart further.
I left him a letter that Ihope he has read by now. In it, I thanked him for all the things he taught me by word and example. Most of those things were not even related to music, but were good life lessons.
Perhaps you can think of a teacher who had a powerful impact on your life. If possible, I encourage you to write them a letter that would bless their hearts upon receiving it. Build them up with words of grace. If they are no longer living, then take time to thank God for the value of their lives and the impact they had on yours.