Cross-posted from http://www.jimdoepken.com.
So, I’ve taken on an additional responsibility. Sure, we can call it a “job.” That’s what I did in the title to this post. After all, I had to apply, get a background check, provide three references, and have an interview. But I was kinda’ doing this “job” for free at the close of the last school year. Plus, since I’m going to remain a full-time pastor it’s clear the position can only take up a few hours a week. So, “job” may be overstating it somewhat.
This added responsibility is “Music Advisor/Coach” at Seward High School. One of the challenges in our community–a small, rural, Alaskan community–is maintaining the extracurriculars at the school. And, in the case of music, we’ve had trouble maintaining music teachers for more than a couple of years. At the high school level, this has meant fewer and fewer youth involved in music in the school. Two years ago there were seven kids in the choir and, I think, none in band. Last year, three youth walked down to the Middle School for choir as the music teacher didn’t go to the High School at all. This year (although we don’t have a music teacher so it’s a moot point) the number was going to be 2. This is out of 176 students. Without a program from the elementary school, feeding into the middle school and, ultimately, feeding into the high school, we’ve struggled.
But, last year something started happening organically at the high school. Some kids (my daughters included) started playing music together in a teacher’s classroom. Then, they moved to the music room. I’m on the local “Seward Music Association” and we wanted to support the fact that actual music was going on in the high school and so we brought pizza a couple of times during lunch as the kids worked on some songs. The kids played outside at the end of the school year picnic.
They played some pop songs.
They played a little bluegrass.
They played some classic rock.
And the instruments were varied. Guitars. Ukuleles. Piano. Harmonica. Drums. Vocals. Even an Ocarina.
It was fun.
This year, without a music teacher at the high school at all, it was determined that the best way to keep the music playing was to turn it into an extra-curricular activity…a club…with concerts.
I didn’t want to see the music stop…for myself or for my daughters…so I stepped in to take some leadership here even though I have a very limited skill set. While one of my friends said that the kids are lucky to have me, I responded with “I’m lucky they’ll have me.” I’m lucky because, each week I’ll get to go and work with some great kids and sing and play music with them and encourage them in performance. I’d say that’s pretty lucky.
I’m not sure exactly where this is all going. I don’t know if this will be a multi-year thing. But I’m convinced this fits in with my larger understanding of the mission and ministry of the church — to engage the world, go out and meet people where they are, and to love them. I hope and pray that this is another way for me to love the community of which I am a part and fill a need. And while I won’t be namedropping “Jesus,” I pray people see my participation as an expression of my faith.