I started playing the trumpet in the fourth grade.
For me, there weren’t any years prior of musical theory or piano or recorder.
Playing trumpet was the first time I was exposed to music, musical theory and musical instruments outside of church music and of course, what little I heard on the radio or my mom’s piano playing.
This was a totally new experience for me.
Neither of my parents ever played a brass instrument.
Mom played a flute and the piano. My dad played guitar and had basic understanding of piano, but that is totally different from trumpet.
There were no strings, no wires involved. Just a chunk of metal that you blow through. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
To my understanding, band was supposed to be a good experience.
That’s what my mom had told me. That was her experience. Fun with friends, playing good music, getting to travel to different places for festivals were among the things that I was looking forward to. While I did get to experience all these things, there was something I experienced that my mother didn’t worn me about.
My music teacher yelled at me. He screamed at me.
Not the super loud, the whole school can hear it type of screaming.
It was the quiet, intense, right in your face type of screaming that fills you with an unholy fear.
He made me feel like I was a worthless piece of garbage, just taking up space in his band.
He would get upset when I wouldn’t hit the high notes like he expected me to.
He wanted me to be playing at a caliber that I wasn’t at, and showed extreme disapproval when I didn’t.
There were times after class, when I had retreated into the safety of my bedroom and I would cry; weep into my pillow.
I had wished that I had never shown any interest in music at all.
That I could drop out of band, leave the pain that I felt in the past.
Other times I didn’t have the safety of my room.
There were days I would stare at the clock and pray that time would go by faster. I would refuse to make real eye contact with the teacher for fear that something horrific would happen if we locked eyes.
Anything that I could do to avoid all the stress that came with this band teacher, I would do it.
Understand this, under no circumstances and on no occasion did my teacher touch me, assault me, hurt me, abuse me, or inflict pain.
There was nothing like that happening in my band class or my school.
When I used to think back on all the years of school, all of the bad memories, things that I have tried to purge from my mind, that band class is definitely one of them.
If I could have cleansed my brain of the hours and hours of practice, concerts, festivals, anything related to that class, I would have considered myself a blessed man.
But the Bible has something different to say.
As much as a brain scrub would be great, the adversity that is created in some relationships can be a good thing.
Just as iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend (Proverbs 27:17 CJB).
Nothing strengthens or builds a person more than a little conflict, a bit of controversy, or some strife.
Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Whether a friend, a teacher, a student, a parent or sibling is testing, aggravating, irritating, they are, knowingly or unknowingly sharpening you.
As much as the grade four version of me may want to shout and scream, and tear into that band teacher that treated me with so little care or concern, I can’t.
I’m 26 years old now, and truth be told, I don’t want to shout or scream.
I have realized that even in that band class, with a teacher instilling unholy fear into me, I was being shaped.
I was being sharpened.
I was being changed from a boy to a man, having my character ironed.
So rather than shout or scream, I say thank you to my grade four band teacher.
Thank you for making me a stronger man.
Thank you for building up in me a toughness, a willingness to stand firm through the storm.
Thank you for forcing me to look for the silver lining in the clouds.
Thank you for pushing me to see the obvious and inherent beauty of the sunrise, to soak it all in while I can.
Thank you for making me do what I didn’t want to so that I could be better.
Thank you for growing in me the drive to push past the bad times so I could experience the good ones.
Thank you for making me do what it would take to be the best that I can be.
Thank you for making me a better man by sharpening me, even when I didn’t want to be sharpened.
In everything give thanks, for this is what God wants from you… (1 Thessalonians 5:18)