Arapaho Warrior

We had a wonderful concert at our church on Saturday. Lots of very talented people used their musical talents to bless others. It was inspiring, enjoyable, funny on occasions (when it was meant to be) and moving on others.

At the interval, as I queued for coffee, for some reason my mind went back briefly to the first time I played in a concert. I was probably only 6 or 7 and had been learning to torture people by playing the violin for a little while. We had a school orchestra (violins only) and had been practicing a piece called ‘Ararpaho Warrior’. It was meant to sound Native American.

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As a relative novice I was in the beginner’s section. Our part involved playing an open A string more or less constantly followed by a few open D string notes, something like this:

A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A D D D D.

The more accomplished violinists played a melody over the top of this interminable screeching, but for the life of me I can’t remember what that sounded like. All I can remember is

A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A D D D D.

And there were repeats. So we played that bit over and over again. Before the concert at which we were to inflict this on our parents and other assorted relatives the conductor (who was our Head Teacher Mr Williams) told us that we were not going to play as many times as was shown on the music. Presumably he was taking pity on our parents, or perhaps he had received a threat from the PTA.

Being naive about these things I didn’t mark this on the musical score, which I remember was on pink paper with purple music from the potently pungent pre-photocopier copying machine. So you can imagine what happened.

I watched Mr Williams start us and then focused on the music.

A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A D D D D
A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A D D D D
A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A D D D D
A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A D D D D
A A A A …

Everyone else had stopped and I had kept going according to the musical score, having forgotten about the change. And I was concentrating so hard on getting the right notes in the right order that I wasn’t watching the conductor at all.

When I realised I was playing a solo I stopped and went the colour of the paper the music was printed on. Mr Williams said something to the audience along the lines that I was clearly enjoying it a lot so perhaps we should play it again so I could stop in the right place so we inflicted ‘Arapaho Warrior’ on the poor relatives again – and this time I made sure I stopped in the right place.

I still don’t know why that came to mind on Saturday. There was no Native American style music. It was all far more sophisticated than

A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A D D D D.

But it did remind me that it is important in life not to focus so much on what is right in front of us that we take our eyes off The Conductor.

And also that sometimes our role is to play a simple background role to enhance the melody that others are playing. If you are playing the melody at the moment don’t forget to thank and appreciate those who are playing

A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A D D D D.

And if you’re one of those playing the less exciting piece remember that your role is to play that as well as you can to enhance others – that’s vital.

And all of us are part of a larger orchestra which makes a joyful sound only when we work together.

Be blessed, be a blessing

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