Connected. Energized. Joyful.

Guest article by Beth Potts

For the first-timers, the process seemed daunting. The thought of singing and playing an instrument (often for the first time, often with strangers) is scary. Like up there in the list of top fears petrifying. However, that mood quickly shifted as everyone settled in, ready for more. 

See, everyone is welcome at Common Time. Accomplished musicians often stop in. Families attend allowing children the opportunity to explore music and connect. Regular participants include adults and children with disabilities. Those curious about the process and the tales of increased feelings of connectedness, compassion, and capability show up once, only to return for the next event. 

For those new Common Time or even music performance in general (like our family), it is easy to join right in. The welcoming was immediate and warm. Each instrument was marked with several colors of tape. Those colors correspond to the music books provided. Instead of worrying about hitting notes, the participant only had to concern him or herself with hitting “orange” or “purple” as the colors were called. If even that proved too much, it was sufficient to simply do one’s best and sing along to favorites like “Johnny Be Good” and Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down.” Before we knew it, we were all singing along at the top of our lungs, like old friends cruising down the highway. 

The deepening of Common Time came, though, when we broke into smaller groups, tasked with the question: “Why are you glad you came tonight?” Everyone could participate in answering this query. Adults were quick to say that they were having a great time. Children could list their favorite instrument or song lyric of the evening. Nonverbal participants could give high fives, hugs, huge smiles, and point to their favorite instrument. 

As the conversation continued, it was possible to see adults and children singing along together and mixed groups communicating through drum beats and shared rhythm-making. 

At the end of the evening, everyone worked together to clean up, converse, and grab one more snack. The house didn’t clear until 30 minutes AFTER the program. Gone were the frazzled nerves and talk of traffic and the heat. In their place were smiles and a renewed sense of energy and love for this community and all it provides. 

Beth (in the purple shirt) plays drums with Sam, another Common Time participant.