When I was in college I played saxophone in a quartet.  There were many opportunities to play or sing in many ensembles but this is the one that I loved the most.  It is also the one that I missed the most after graduating.  I have since played my saxophone many times for a wide variety of groups but I’ve always longed for the days of playing with the quartet.  There was just something about 4 people playing with close harmony, each relying upon the other for support and energy. 

This past semester I got my opportunity.  My professor from Butler University offered me the opportunity to earn some graduate credit by coming back to play for my alma mater in a sax quartet.  I’ve got to say that I both enjoyed it and wish that I had made a different choice, all at the same time.

I enjoyed it because I had the opportunity to play some high quality music with some high quality musicians.  I was able to build a few more bridges and open a few doors for further playing opportunities.  It also gave me a great musical outlet that I haven’t had for some time.

On the flip side, it was a lot of work.  Within the first 3 weeks of playing I had to have enough material prepared to make a recording for the Fischoff and shortly after we had to prepare almost all new material for a road trip.  This meant that I had to practice approximately 2 hours per night about 5 nights a week, and then some.  If you add that to the 2 rehearsals that I had every week it added up to be a lot of time.  Time that my family lost out on…

Now that we’re done it’s given me some time to reflect.  I really am glad I did it.  It was very refreshing.  I’ve also contemplated how I could have done it differently so that my family didn’t have to lose out so much.  I’m not so sure if I have an answer to that one.  Whether it’s coaching, camps, trips, late night conversations, or a graduate class, life seems to take a constant balancing act. 

If I’m going to be totally honest, my spiritual life struggled during that time too.  I was too busy.  I was getting up too early, going to bed too late, and not saving enough energy.  How do you balance that one?  What about when you have a sick kid, lots of overtime, or other unexpected diversions?  Does God go to the back seat?

The other thing that I dealt with the entire time was my relationship to the others in the quartet.  With the exception of the instructor, all of them were college students.  They knew I worked at a school and at a church.  We even practiced at the church a few times.  They accepted who I was and I accepted them.  I was really glad that they didn’t feel like they had to walk gingerly around me because of my faith but it constantly left me with a question.  How much do I talk to them about my faith?  I was constantly on the lookout for conversation opportunities but none came up. 

What would you have done?  What do you do currently?  As a teacher, I always have to be very careful not to compromise my integrity while always being willing to engage in conversation.  It is one of those constant tensions of living life in community with a diverse group of people.  It’s a good tension, one that keeps me reliant upon God.  It stretches me. 

How are you being stretched?

Maybe I’ll post clips of our recordings once I get them edited.  The editing process seems to be stretching me too!