All That Jazz

A note from Lisa: As you read this, I’m vacationing with family and taking a few days offline. Here’s a post from my archives I thought you might enjoy. LMH

Last night found our quartet huddled around sushi and soda at a San Francisco area jazz club.  Since all three of my guys are musicians, this was their equivalent to many families’ outings to a major league ballpark – a chance to see the pros doing what they love to do.  Eric is hoping to play in the jazz band at school this year.  Adam, our budding drummer, had his eye on the percussionist all night.  Greg, my guitar hero husband, loved that the show featured a guitar viruoso.  They were in heaven.

Mom, the odd man out and not much of a jazz aficionado, was in heaven too – I love watching my family have fun and explore their passions.  My teens are unusual kids who’d rather listen to classical music or traditional Irish tunes than today’s top 40.  Their peers view them as “different” and that’s fine by me!

As music swirled around us and I watched my sons’ eyes and ears glued to the stage, I began to think about the many comparisons between jazz music and family life:

•          Teamwork – Regardless of the size of the group, a jazz band must work together to create beauty and synergy.  The musicians, like family members, must know one another well enough to anticipate each other’s next moves or course correct when someone goes down a new or unexpected path.

•          Tempo – Good jazz, like family life, can go from a slow, dreamy pace to breakneck speed and back in a manner of minutes.  As families, we must adjust to all types of weeks – those with ten little league games and two dance recitals in three days or those where everyone’s home sick with the flu.

•          No Stars – The jazz bands I most enjoy are those without a front man. In families, we take turns “starring” or soloing. We all rejoice when someone makes “honor roll” or scores a goal in soccer.  We support, encourage and build up our kids, preparing them to take solos as they move on to independence.

•          Innovative – When you listen to a jazz band, you can’t necessarily predict what’s going to come next.  Even though they’ve played a tune together before, the band may play it differently every time they perform it together.  The same is true for family life – things are always changing, evolving and developing.  The end result is exciting and new every time!

•          Timeless – Jazz has been around for years, but the development of new instruments and sound techniques keeps it fresh and exciting.  Since the dawn of time, families have had to learn to live with and love one another – things like parenting in the age of the Internet keep things evolving, but we tend to go back to tried and true rules for parenting – those things our parents taught us and were in turn taught by their parents.

•          Backbone – Perhaps because my sons play bass and drums, I tend to watch those players in the Jazz band who provide the constancy and background rhythm for the music.  Without a drummer to keep time, the band could easily stray off course.  As families, we too have a backbone of support for all we do – a God whose love is unconditional and a Catholic faith that clearly lights the path for our world.

In the program last night, the featured band stated that they hoped to create jazz music whose “whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts”.  Isn’t that true for great family life as well?  When we work, play and love together as families with a loving God at our core, we can create beautiful music together.

About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms.

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  • Leslie Lenko

    Jazz music is timeless, classy and the best for musical teamwork! I have had the honor years ago to sit in with a jazz band and sing a song or two. The memories last a lifetime. All I can say is learn jazz or another type of music and maybe play something as a family, or with friends. It is a timeless experience that is such a joy!


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