The jump from Foothills Elementary to Spanish Fork Junior High was a tough one for me. I was terrified to be there.
I went from walking to school to catching the bus, and from one teacher to seven. Lockers were new to me, not to mention remembering my combination.
My relief was found in a classroom that housed the Spanish Fork Junior High Orchestra, directed by Paul Wells. Mr. Wells was a skinny man with a sweet smile and a combover. He loved music, and it showed in his talent.
I worked hard in his class. In 8th grade I even took a turn in the first-chair violin seat.
I will never forget the feeling I had playing my first piece as a first violin.
Mr. Wells taught me more than just dynamics and playing position though.
One day we had a rough rehearsal. After weeks of practicing a piece, we still did not sound ready for an upcoming performance.
Timing issues, wrong notes, and short attention spans filled the class period. In the middle of a particularly rough run-through Mr. Wells cut us off and dropped his hands to his sides.
We stopped playing and then sat in silence, wondering what would happen next.
Mr. Wells walked to the door of our classroom and propped it all the way open.
“Let’s play for the hall,”
We all looked around, a little confused at his request.
Why would he want anyone to hear us after a run-through like that?
We didn’t have time to question his sanity or motive. He put his hands up and we all got ready to play.
The violins sat up straight and tall and fixed their bows to the strings. The violas uncrossed their legs and kept their pinkies down. Cellos and bass positioned their wrists with beautiful precision, and a miracle happened.
We really played.
Everyone came in on every cue.
Each member was precisely in tune with the next.
The beauty of the music was overpowering. We all felt it.
At the end of our song, we packed up and headed to our next class.
For the remainder of the year, Mr. Wells had us “play for the hall” from time to time and the miracles continued.
Lately I’ve wondered what difference playing for the hall made.
What did Mr. Wells know about us that led him to prop that door wide open?
Discipleship is a little like orchestra. We hold rehearsals each day.
From church meetings, to seminary and institute, to personal scripture study, we practice truths with the door closed.
This is necessary to master the piece, but eventually, the door is opened and we play for the hall.
We act on the promptings we’ve received, and the witnesses we have gained.
We share the beauty of what we’ve been practicing with all those in the hall that day, in hopes that lives will be better because of the the beauty they see and hear.
As we leave the solitude of classroom study discipleship, we play for the hall.
Sometimes we have tough rehearsals.
Sometimes we may not feel confident in our own abilities to play or perform our given piece.
What gives me hope is our Conductor.
The Savior holds the baton with a perfect view of our potential. Even after rocky rehearsals He sees us as capable instruments.
With flawless skill, confidence, and experience He directs the work and we sit privy to miracles.
The violins sit up straighter and the violas uncross their legs.
The cellos and the bass fix their wrists, and we play something so beautiful, that people are touched.
I’m a conductor now. Whenever I stand up to conduct a piece my heart beats fast and I smile. I love each member of my little choir.
As we rehearse sometimes I think about Mr. Wells and his confidence in a junior high orchestra.
Every time we rehearse I think about Jesus Christ. I know He loves when we sing for Him. I know He listens when we play for the hall.
My name is Maddie Townsend Topham and I am a happy wife!