The muscle behind the music

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The sounds of Christmas music soothe our souls and evoke special memories, whether itís listening to carols on the way to work or attending any of the myriad holiday concerts offered this time of year.

Iíve been on the front line of providing Christmas music for others since childhood when I debuted as an angel at age 5 at the Sunday School Christmas program. (Fun fact: I got through ďAngels We Have Heard on High, then had to exit and throw up in the back room while being consoled by some kindly Lutheran lady who no doubt had to clean up the mess.) Iíve sung in choirs, duets and trios; played my flute individually and with others; played the piano and organ (once upon a time) and for the past few years Iíve been a member of the Alpine Ringers handbell choir.

Some years are more daunting than others, but the truth is, I love being a part of the music scene at Christmas. I was reminded last week, though, how much work goes on behind the scenes to make sure each performance is as good as it can be.

My fellow handbell ringers and I were waiting for our chance to perform during the Whitefish Christmas Stroll on Dec. 6. As we munched on snacks and talked among ourselves, groups of performers from North Valley Music School took turns warming up their voices and tuning up violins while their teachers coordinated the chaos of dozens of young, eager performers who were jazzed for their turn on stage. Itís been a long time since my daughters performed in Christmas pageants, band concerts and piano recitals, and I had forgotten the nervous energy that can consume kids prior to a performance.

There has to be a special place in heaven for music teachers.

One of my very best friends has been an elementary school music teacher in Sidney (on Montanaís eastern border) for 40 years. She has put together hundreds of Christmas pageants through the years, and somehow still has her sanity intact! When her own kids were growing up, Iíd always get her Christmas cards and letters well after the new year because she confided it was just too exhausting for her to get it done with all of those school programs hanging over her head.

The time commitment and patience it takes to get all of those young voices singing somewhat in tune and knowing the words to songs, is no small thing.

Anyone who steps up to help others make music, whether itís school music teachers, choral and band directors, church choir directors or orchestra conductors, have my utmost respect. Practice makes perfect, they say, and of course thatís true with any musical performance. It takes a mountain of hard work from both the student and teacher to make music, whether itís a first-year piano student or an accomplished instrumentalist.

Iíve been lucky enough to have had many wonderful music leaders and mentors through the years, and itís made all the difference. They bring out the best in us music makers; they are the proverbial wind beneath our wings. The next time you hear those ďjoyous strainsĒ of Christmas music, remember that behind every voice is a teacher who is or was the muscle behind the music.

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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