Inspiration – (Definition from Merriam‑Webster)
“Something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone.”
Inspiration comes to us in many ways. I loved poetry and books and when my father read to me, I was inspired to write. My daughter, our youngest, watched her big brothers play basketball with their mini plastic hoop on the back porch. When she could walk, she played right along with them. She’s now graduating from high school and will play basketball in college – her dream come true.
My eldest son is a singer and except for the questionably-tuned lullabies he heard as a baby, I’m pretty sure my singing didn’t inspire him. In fact, as a toddler, he politely tugged on my sweater in church and asked me not to sing. “I’m trying to listen,” he said. I haven’t asked what or who inspired him to sing, but I can guess that it might have been those singers at church or the CDs we played when he was young.
“Touch An Instrument”
In my role with the music nonprofit Pavoh, I led an informal workshop for local Boys & Girls Club kids and the community called “Touch an Instrument.” I wanted to put instruments in the hands of the youngest club members – with the sole intention of inspiring them. In addition to touching an instrument, the bonus for the kids was seeing the performers on stage. Immediately following the “Touch an Instrument” session, we scheduled a concert with young performers from the Club and the surrounding community. These musicians and some young volunteers were scheduled to help the kids explore the instruments.
Right on schedule, an eager group of kids ran into the auditorium while we were completing sound check for the concert and sat in the front row. They were patient and attentive waiting for their ‘instructors’ to finish. Ranging in age from 6-11, they looked like seasoned concert goers, or theatre experts. They were riveted by what was going on in front of them.
When it was time, I polled the group of young people to see what instruments they wanted to touch and play:
“Violin!” said an eager young girl.
“I’m sorry, we don’t have a violin here today,” I told her, “but we do have guitars. How about trying a guitar?”
“OK!” she answered as she ran to join the group trying out the guitars.
Experiencing the pure joy of her reaction to playing ANY instrument was an inspiring moment for me. It was validating to see that the activity was so energetically received. And I hope my young friend was inspired by her experience with the guitar to dream of playing it or another musical instrument. Maybe she’ll join the school band or a rock group at the Club, eventually performing in front of her family or a stadium of thousands.
How Do You Inspire?
What inspired you to do what you love? What will inspire your child? Sometimes, we provide the inspiration – if we love books, we share them; if we love sports we start kicking, passing or throwing the ball around as early as possible. But sometimes experiences we share with our children end up being their inspiration. If you aren’t musical (like me), there are many ways to help your child kick around the idea of making music or playing an instrument. You can start by attending performances together, remember that eager audience? Your child may not have an adult-sized attention span, but any amount of time you spend at a performance can be valuable inspiration.
Pavoh, Inc. brings together young musicians of all genres and backgrounds. Young people build confidence, self-esteem and community through music and the arts. Pavoh’s mission is to provide young musicians with accessible learning opportunities that drive artistic growth and empower self-expression. Location: 14 Spring St. First Floor, Waltham, MA. http://www.pavoh.org