I can’t tell you much about Mary, because I don’t know much about her. I don’t know her age, where she grew up, or even her last name. But Mary has made a difference in my life. Here is what I do know. Mary is somewhat advanced in years, and uses a walker to get around. She loves music, and gives great hugs.
In seconds, Mary did for us what we hope to do for everyone who sees us perform. She created a memorable moment that made us feel connected to her.
On March 12, we performed for the first time in De Pere, Wisconsin as part of the Music in Schools Tour. When we arrived at the school, we instantly felt energized by the attitudes of the students. Their eyes were bright and they were full of excitement. It may have been because this particular school was participating in the Music in Schools tour in a way no other school has.
Over the winter, Chris arranged a new song for the group. That’s nothing new. He does that several times a year. This time, however, he teamed up with a college friend to write choral sheet music to go with it. De Pere would be the first school choir to perform a song with us in a show. They had spent weeks learning the arrangement, and we spent the choir class period rehearsing it. It was a special day.
I’m not sure if the performance of that song that night was a greater treat for us or for the choir students. I know we loved it. Sharing smiles across the stage, trying to make each other laugh with funny dance moves, and leaning in to jam together. We spent the class time that day working on the technical aspects of the performance. In the concert itself, the time for preparing and perfecting had passed. It was all about enjoying the moment.
After the show, we always greet the audience and sign autographs and take pictures. Amid the sea of high schoolers and between handshakes and selfie poses, I noticed a little elderly woman using her walker to make her way from one guy to the next. She finally arrived in front of me. She gave two tugs to my shirt sleeve, and as I bent down to her level, she took my hand and whispered, “Thank you for bringing our community together for this.” She then reached her arms around my neck and gave me a hug I’ll never forget.
We work hard to fill our show with special moments. It takes careful planning and most importantly, a sincere love for what you do and who you do it for. Mary definitely got it right. On the wall of another school at which we performed hangs a quote by Maya Angelou. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”