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Aug31WedA trip by The Salvation Army's Canadian Staff Band changed one young life forever. August 31, 2016 by Keith Haggett
This past April, The Salvation Army's Canadian Staff Band (CSB), a group of talented musicians, visited our church in Halifax, Fairview Citadel, for a series of concerts with our own band.
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The Sunday-morning service were particularly glorious, with 35 musicians in attendance. As the band played on, someone in the congregation noticed a young boy, face pressed against the glass doors of the sanctuary, who was trying to see what was going on. At each song, he'd clap his hands in time to the music.
When someone called him over, the youngster started to run away but, once assured that he was not in trouble, was persuaded to come in to enjoy the music, and then he stayed for lunch.
Between bites, he introduced himself as Jordan. The nine-year-old told us how he'd been at the playground of the school next door and had heard the music, so he decided to come over and check it out.
Jordan soon made himself at home and started playing with the rest of the kids, but he was fascinated by the musicians: “How long does it take to learn to play?” “How can I do that?”
Someone asked me, as bandmaster, if we could invite him to our church's Young People's Band practice that Monday evening.
“Absolutely!” I replied. I sat Jordan down and explained how our group meets once a week and that if he did want to learn how to play an instrument, there was a bit of a process involved, which included learning music theory as well as long hours of practice. He was undeterred. “See ya tomorrow,” he told me as he headed for home that day.
I was encouraged by his reaction, though I had no idea whether he would return the next evening.
To Be Continued
So I confess to being mildly surprised that Monday when Jordan not only showed up but was accompanied by his older brother, 10-year-old Jeffery, and his younger brother, Jonah, seven. Jordan had told his parents all about the visit and they'd readily given their consent.
Rather than being put off by the practice exercises, all three brothers were enthusiastic students.
“Why don't we come back tomorrow night?” Jordan asked me when it was over. The brothers were mildly disappointed when I explained that band practice was only once a week, but they were determined to return. And they did, week after week.
After a few theory classes, I put cornets in their hands and before long, each of them could play the C scale, which is the basis for many simple pieces of music that beginners can handle. The three children have become a welcome addition to our group.
John Lam, the CSB bandmaster, has a similar story of finding a church home through music. In his youth, John came across The Salvation Army by accident. In his case, it took one caring gesture to make him want to return.
In Jordan's case, it took one person in the congregation to extend an invitation for him to come in to listen. That simple act opened up a new world for three young kids.
After the service, one of our parishioners approached me and asked if I was interested in having the boys attend our annual music camp. When I replied yes, the parishioner answered that she would pay for them to go. God is amazing, I reflected afterward. When He sees a need, He fills it.
But the story does not end there. With their mother's permission, all three children, of their own volition, are now attending Sunday school, and I'm hoping they will attend our music camp this month.
Only God knows where this story will go from here, but thanks to a little boy wanting to know where all the music was coming from, three lives have been transformed.
Keith Haggett is the bandmaster at The Salvation Army's Fairview Citadel in Halifax.