Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Making Joyful Noises: A Maestra and Her Mission

I want to share a slice of heaven my family has been privileged to encounter. We stumbled upon the wonderfulness that is Sherri Anderson during a tough time in my children's lives. This is a powerful example of how God can take a sad circumstance and turn it into something beautiful. "All things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."

A few years ago, I was working fulltime in Trenton, New Jersey and we found ourselves unexpectedly without summer activities for our older son, then 11. As a family, we found ourselves there because some adults in our lives made petty, unfair, hurtful, lousy decisions about his summer, adults we thought had our son's best interests at heart. That is a story for another day.

Angry and desperate, I looked for something for our son to do other than spend every day of his summer sitting in his dad's office near our home. I discovered a music camp - quite affordable music camp - around the corner from my job. Sherri, who holds a master's degree in sacred music, gathers children from all manner of circumstances and cultures, and brings them together for two weeks every summer to play music together. Our son was a new bass player so I emailed her and asked if he could join in - even though it was way past the camp deadline, he had no audition tape and really played no scales to speak of. Sure, she emailed back. Just show up.

Sherri is a pastor's child and grew up in Philadelphia, where her dad still pastors at Snyder Avenue Congregational Church. Sherri earned an undergraduate degree in music from Wheaton College and then a master's in sacred music from Westminister Choir College. Along her way, she started and nurtured Blue Mountain Chamber Music Festival, which consists of day and residential camps, an orchestra called Stretto Youth Chamber Orchestra (which played at the New York Encounter in January) and a career teaching and bringing together for music children from an extraordinary  range of settings - from boarding schools to homeless shelters and foster homes.

When day camp was over, Sherri asked me if she could ask our son to join Stretto. He was a new musician, but she told me she saw focus and potential. He has been playing in the orchestra since then. This fall, he will play as principle bassist in the chamber group. I wanted to share two clips with you. The first is of youngsters in Sherri's day camp; the other of older children in her residential camp.

What wonders God can work through a tender teacher.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. It is great that he has found a passion for both music and biking (and many other things).