The Lincoln Academy Violin Class

Of all the list items I’ve checked off over the past few months, this one was certainly the one that will stick with me in my heart for a long time.

About two weeks ago, I was on the road playing violin at an Outback America event in the Huntsville, Alabama area and ran into a friend and his wife and we paused to ask the “what’s new with you” question that most people ask when you run into folks you haven’t seen in a while.  He shared that he’d left his job and taken a new position with a ministry called the Lincoln Village Ministry.  The more he shared about their passion for revitalizing a particular inner city area of Huntsville through education, housing, medical, nutritional, and micro-economic initiatives all in the name of Christ, the more fascinated I became with the story, and I even made the off-hand comment that if I lived closer, I’d love to be their music teacher.

When I first posted my “B’s List” in time for our blog to launch on January 1st, 2012, I only had 18 items on my list and the rest were still “TBA.”  I posted a statement that I was open to suggestions and two days later, a friend of mine and Mary-Hall’s from high-school posted the following comment:

Bethany,
While reading your list, I began to think about how talented you are musically. Being a teacher, I immediately thought about how music really is a lost art form in elementary schools. I work at a Title I school. I would be willing to bet that only a handful of students at my school have ever heard a true musician play any instrument. So, you could look up local schools in your area. Figure out which school is listed as a critical needs area and see if the principal would let you perform a concert. I am sure those young students would love it!
-Alice Duett

I loved the idea, and although I will admit it seemed a bit overwhelming, I added to my list 19. Do some sort of musical & kid-related volunteer project. I don’t have any contacts at any schools in Nashville, and being it’s “music city,” there are actually a fair amount of music programs available even to students who might attend schools that are considered “at risk.”  I’d brought my violin to Kenya with me in February and played for some students at a Compassion project, and I considered using that as my “kid and music related project” but I felt for some reason that it needed to be something a little closer to home.  If not in my literal neighborhood, at least in a place nearby where I felt somehow a part of the community.

The Lincoln Village story was still gnawing at my heart and I didn’t put my finger on why until I made the connection between Alice’s comment about Title 1 Schools and the ministry statement of one of Lincoln Village’s newest ministry arms, Lincoln Academy.  The school states that it is “a church school which seeks to provide a high quality Christ-centered education option to students who are zoned to public Title I schools.”  (Lincoln Academy actually grew out of a tutoring program that Lincoln Village created to serve 3 Title 1 schools in their area.)  So that night I sent an email to my friend asking if it would be possible for me to come down and teach a short workshop on the violin/mini concert, and in less than a day the event was scheduled.

I’ll admit I was nervous this past Tuesday morning as 20 pairs of eyes from grades 2-6 fixed on me at 10:00 AM in the Lincoln Academy auditorium.  We went through a worksheet that I’d created and learned all about the parts of the violin, a bit of music theory, and some fun facts and stories about the violin as well.  And then I played an example of a fiddle tune, a classical song, and a hymn.  {And a bit of the Orange Blossom Special after a few boys requested I play something “fast and awesome.”}  I was so impressed by these students!  They paid attention.  They were polite.  They asked some great questions (“Why do you close your eyes and move your head when you play?” “Why is the bow longer than the violin?”).  They applauded as if I were a rock star.  They handled the violin I passed around with utmost respect and care.  In the end, I think it was a successful mini-workshop and a moment that all involved won’t soon forget…for a variety of reasons.

To the students, teachers, and staff at Lincoln Academy and Lincoln Village Ministries, THANK You for letting me be a part of your story.  I was astounded by what you’ve accomplished and inspired by your spirit.  Also, to Val (and Patton) who gave up their morning to support me, and who fed me grits and fried green tomatoes.  You guys were the cherry on top of an already sweet experience.  And to Alice, thank you for planting the seed that grew into a moment where I could share the thing I love most with a group of students who might otherwise have never held an instrument.  You blessed me.

Taking a question from the audience as I teach my mini-workshop while three of the students discuss the worksheet.

post script: I found out after the assembly was over in a coincidental phone call with my dad, that the Lincoln Village area is named after the Lincoln Mill that the neighborhood grew up around….and that Lincoln Mill had a sister mill down the street called Dallas Mill where my grandmother and several of her family members used to work!  So in an odd way I was, in fact, giving back to my community…a community that once included my family…many years and several generations ago.

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About bethanybordeaux

I fiddle around a bit.

5 responses to “The Lincoln Academy Violin Class”

  1. Momma Daniel says :

    Great story! I loved the info in the P.S.! Do you remember performing (with our friends) at what was probably a Title 1 school in Kennedale when you were about 4? That audience of 5th and 6th graders blew me away with their courtesy and attentiveness.

  2. bethanybordeaux says :

    Thanks Momma! I thought it was really cool that I had even more of a connection that I’d have. I do remember playing in Kennedale. I loved traveling and playing at nursing homes and schools and other events as a kid. And clearly, it got in my blood.

  3. Dreama says :

    Very touching! You continue your musical journey in such special ways.

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