With seven children, all boys except six girls, spread throughout the band program over all those consecutive years, we had enough musical instruments around the house to start our own music store.  A flute, a clarinet, a bass clarinet, a cello, a trombone, a trumpet, a coronet, a piano, a French horn, and various percussion instruments—it seemed we had them all.  Listening to each child as they learned to play was a sometimes wearisome task.  Just when one had begun to make melodic sounds, another would begin with the squealing or bleating sounds endeavoring to make music.

Oh, the driving of children from place to place, struggling to get them to rehearsals on time and in the right places, and picking them up again became a huge mission.  Sad to say it, but I think cell phones were created for me so that my children could remind me where I dropped them.  I know I passed myself backing in and pulling out of our drive many a times.
And then, as my husband and I began to get more involved in the program, we picked up another 200 youth somehow and found that each year there were new ones to replace those who had graduated. We were Mama and Daddy Mourdock to youth whose names we had no idea.  They might just show up in our fifteen passenger van needing a ride, around our kitchen table hoping to be fed, in our driveway playing and singing happy birthday, at our front door holding our mailbox, placing for sale signs in our yard, or asking us for advice.  Oh, my the fun!

Why, many have asked me, would you do that to yourself?  It wasn’t about us; it was about our children.  Let me share what two of our children have shared with me.

Daughter number two, a warrant officer in the U.S. Army,  said,  “Mom, the training that I use most with my troops comes from what I learned in leadership training while I was in the band.”

Our son, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, said after graduating from Basic Training at the age of 23. “This is the most that I have felt needed by someone since being in the marching band in high school.  I needed others to complete tasks, and I know that others depended upon me to complete tasks. It takes united efforts to make a mission successful.”

And so the cycle begins in our home again…One of our grandsons comes over frequently to practice yet another instrument, the saxophone.  I love that squawk because I know another young person is learning to love music and is learning life skills to help make his future a brighter one.