Planting Seeds…

by vernsanders on May 21, 2010

It is a common sermon illustration, and, in fact, a common life story. Somebody plants seeds, and somebody else harvests. Often times you don’t get to see the fruits of the seeds you sow.

Today was different…at least for me.

I am at the Association of Canadian Choral Communities conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Woo hoo, you say. OK…except that I’ve been in Saskatchewan before. Starting in July of 1974, I become the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Regina. I loved (still do) the Canadian people, and most specifically my students. (Now the weather?…that’s a different story.)

When I got to the UofR, I used to joke that I was 1/4 of the culture in town (there was a symphony, a very good theatre company, and a couple of movie theaters). Not true, of course. Most importantly, I had the chance to teach, and be passionate about choral music for 10 years. There was no provincial choral organization either. So, in one of my more inspired/lucky moments, I asked somebody I respected – Bess Jillings – how that could be remedied. (This after being told repeatedly that “it’s been tried, but it just won’t work here.”) She suggested that I personally visit some of the “name” choral people in the province, and get them to sign on to the project. A few weeks later, we had a lot of signatures, and a new non-profit organization was born…the Saskatchewan Choral Federation.

That same organization, now 30+ years later, is going strong, and is hosting the conference this week.

Not too long after that, I was sitting at the table when a new national choral organization was being discussed. We had pretty much agreed that it was necessary, and desirable, but there were logistical issues, not the least of which was money. We decided to offer “charter life memberships” to see if we could raise funds. So I reached into my pocket and wrote a check that allowed ACCC to open a bank account. This year is the organization’s 30th anniversary, and, unexpectedly, from the stage tonight at the opening concert, I heard my name mentioned among the 5 people that made it happen. There are 200 or so choir directors, and hundreds more singers here this week, and I’m feeling a bit proud, if you don’t mind.

But there is more.

I’m rooming with a former student of mine, who is now the Director of Choral Activities at Memorial University in Newfoundland. I’m having lunch with a former student tomorrow (we reconnected on facebook) who owns an advertising agency with multiple offices, and a recording studio. And today, at a reception, one of my former students (whom I didn’t remember) walked up to me and told me she was a first grade teacher, and does all the music for her K-6 school. She told me how much I had inspired her, by opening doors to choral music that she had no idea existed. I am feeling humbled that I had some small part in these (and more) students’ lives.

When I was in college, my generation set out to change the world for the good. I’m not sure that has happened, but I, and others of my generation have changed individual lives for the better. In the end, isn’t that a more noble thing?

Perhaps you don’t know what kind of impact you are having on other people’s lives. But if you do, will you please leave a comment and let me know the details? Either way, I want to affirm what you doing. Hang in there…you’re planting seeds!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

lura May 21, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Congratulations on the recognition…that’s fantastic. You planted many seeds in Canada and around the world I’m sure. So proud of you. :)

vernsanders May 21, 2010 at 11:46 pm

thanks…it has been a great time, and I got to connect with several more former students today…

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