The Difference Between “For” and “With”

It started with a question from a summer camp volunteer — “Can we put on a fundraiser concert for Melodic Connections?”  It ended with students from Melodic Connections and The Walnut Hills High School Tri-M music honor society rehearsing and performing together to create something for the community.  Along the way, the experience became a beautiful expression of what can happen when we shift our mindset from doing something “for” someone to doing something “with” someone.

With about six weeks to prepare, students worked independently on their parts.  Then Walnut Hills students came to the Melodic Connections studio during an afternoon class time for a group rehearsal.  Mark, a student in our Youth Band, was apprehensive at first and so was his mom.  ” I thought it might be too much music to learn in a short time,” she said.  At Melodic Connections, Mark started learning the keyboard part to “Let it Snow” patiently working out new chord inversions with his instructor Elaine.  When Mei Li (cello) and Piper (vocals) joined him for a rehearsal, the three of them working together seamlessly, creating a performance in just one rehearsal.  “It was such a growth experience for Mark.  He was so proud of his accomplishments,” his mom said.  See their performance of “Let it Snow” on Mark’s family’s YouTube channel.

As the students got comfortable, they began sitting next to each other in rehearsals, connecting and developing friendships.  By the end of the concert both the Melodic Connections and Tri-M students seemed to have a greater understanding of the strengths and unique abilities of their fellow performers. They supported each other, reaching out when another musician needed a hand.  Had one group been performing “for” the other, these connections never would have happened.  Making music “with” transformed the experience for everyone.

On concert night the group of performers had shared the experience of preparing, rehearsing, performing, and learning from each other’s gifts and talents — which made the spotlight more meaningful for all of them. Melodic Connections volunteer coordinator Liz Novak thinks the opportunity led all the students and their parents to a greater understanding of what it means to be a musician.  “It’s not about perfection,” Liz said, “It’s about connecting and reaching new levels of understanding of what it means to make music together.”

Mark (on piano), Mei Li (on cello) and Piper (on vocals) on stage at Walnut Hills High School.

The whole group takes a bow.