This was the gist of the conversation Ian had with his dad tonight after the Wachter Middle School 8th grade concert band debuted his composition “After the Storm.” As many of you already know, Ian has been taking private music theory lessons this year and has learned how to score for concert and jazz bands. He wrote “After the Storm” for a concert band; last night, I watched and cried at his debut as he stood up – all 11 years of him – and conducted the 8th graders through the piece. It was amazing, and I had a flash of his entire life, how he would look at 30 and 40 and 50 conducting bands perhaps all over the world. I’ll tell you: it was a moment.
After the concert, we whisked Ian across town so that he could sit in and back up the middle school show choir in another performance. He walked through the backstage doors with only 10 minutes to spare. It was amazing. Plus, I got to hear the show choir, and they were such a delight! An evening of treats.
When we got home, Ian was so restless, he took a walk through the yard with his dad. He was happy yet full of angst. He told his dad that there was just so much music he wanted to do – how was he ever going to do all he wanted to? He wanted to play in bands like Rush and Tower of Power. In bands like his new group Hex Radio. He wanted to back up show choirs. He wanted to sing in show choirs. He wanted to compose for orchestras and symphonies. He wanted to compose for and play in jazz ensembles. Things felt so big, and for the moment, instead of feeling inspired, he felt the impossibility of achieving and doing all he wanted to in just one lifetime.
Thankfully, Jamie (dad) had a plethora of examples to offer of people who don’t settle for one genre of music. Jamie’s an encyclopedia of artists and their stories, and he pulled out Elvis Costello and Steve Gadd among many others, talking about the wide range of musical styles they enjoy – how they don’t settle for anything but what they want. Ian perked up a bit with that. By the time he came in and showered, it was 10 pm. But he ran in the den begging for some more time before bed. He had started writing his next song in the shower (don’t all the best ideas start there?), and he had to write down the lyrics before he forgot them. We granted another 20 minutes, and after he settled down in his room, Jamie picked up the notebook he had been working on. There weren’t just lyrics written on the page, but chord progressions, though he hadn’t touched the piano. He just heard it in his head and knew what to write. This morning when I got up to let the dog out at 6:30, he was already up and back at it. He finished his song by 7:15 am.
Intensity can be like that. Like a giant wave, you can either get pulled under by the enormity of possibility, or you can ride along the top, letting the sheer size of it carry you further than you could ever dream. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Oh yeah, and here’s the recording of “After the Storm.” Enjoy!