The picture above is (my sons) Wendell and Eric at our old piano
A friend of mine once told me “some people got the calling, others just packed up and went.” She was speaking in reference to a minister at her church that was less than stellar. I believe this to be correct for all occupations, including music.
Is Music calling your child?
They did not choose music; music chose them.
“He got the calling”
My story is from the heart of a musician’s mother. The road that we travel with our musician children is one that can be as glorious as standing at the top of a mountain looking out at this beautiful world with awe. Then it can drop you like a plane with engine failure…the impact is painful and unforgettable, but you survive somehow.
I have learned how to stay the course with courage from my musician son, Eric Erdman. By observing him as he faced disappointment after disappointment, I learned how to pick myself up and raise my chin to the sky, as I've watched him grab the rung of that ladder and begin the climb again as he looked adversity square in the eye.
No matter how many times you fall, you must rise up again!
Eric is my youngest son (I have two) and he was born to make music. The music gene cannot be denied. When Eric began crawling, he would always make his way to our old box-type stereo set and then he would sit with a peaceful look and listen intently to the music of James Taylor, Jim Croce or whoever was spinning on the turntable at the time. I remember thinking he really likes music. As a young mother, my thoughts never ventured beyond that and there was no connection in my mind to any thought that he may become a musician one day.
Music was a constant in his life throughout his childhood. He and my older son, Wendell, joined with our next-door neighbors, (the Browning boys) and were constantly making music with whatever was available to them. They made videos and banged on old guitars on the end of our pier. Sailing and making music were the two things that occupied their every thought (and girls of course). They even gave their group a name, “The Skeptics”; however there was never a gig nor an album in the works.
Eric went on to learn the violin in middle school and he played in the Mobile Student Symphony. Then in high school he joined with some friends, Bobby Harvey, Zach Cole and John Archer to learn one song for the school talent show. I don’t even remember the song they played that day, but I remember they called themselves “Fuzz Bucket”. They did not win the competition but for them, just being on that stage performing was a win.
The following year, when Eric was a senior, he played solo with his acoustic guitar for the talent show. He chose “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce; a song he had heard hundreds of times over the years on our old stereo.
I remember my words like it was yesterday, when he came to me just after he graduated high school and said, “Mom, I am going to join a band!” He explained, "Bobby Harvey is starting a band and he asked me to join!" It turned out he was only giving me information, not asking permission as I had mistakenly thought. “No", I said, "you cannot do that...I put my foot down.” In the silence that followed I added, “you would be playing in places where people smoke and drink and curse”. “It is just not something you should do.” As I continued my strong protests to the band idea; his mind was filled with one thought, “how can I get an electric guitar!”
I stood there defeated and realizing this was a train that was already headed out of the station and my legs were too short to reach the brakes.
I bought him that electric guitar and soon he was standing on the stage at a place called “Southside” on Dauphin Street right next to his friend Bobby who played bass. He was suddenly a member of the newest cover band. It was called “Method to Madness.”
Eric continued playing music all through college. He received a Bachelors Degree in Statistics from The University of South Alabama. Even though I was very proud of his accomplishment; it was bitter sweet. I knew statistics would not be the driving force in his future; it would always take a back seat to music.
“You can’t base your life on other people’s expectations.” - Stevie Wonder
I love this quote as it speaks to me and the choices I made as a young adult. I always made decisions based on what my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles felt was best. I sort of fell through my life as I listened to other people’s expectations for me and ignored what my heart screamed out to me.
At the time when my boys were making decisions about their futures I voiced my opinion but I made a concerted effort to yield to their wishes and their dreams.
Through the years my sons have both made me so proud. The oldest is very much a musician. He can play more than one instrument and he is an exceptional songwriter. Yet he had the calling of medicine. Wendell is a physician and it is truly what he was born to be.
“Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn’t mean he lacks vision.” -Stevie Wonder
These words are so true and they ring jarringly loud for me. His blindness did not take away his vision. He had a strong mother who was his eyes and who guided him to his true calling.
I believe it to be vital for a musician to have family support and encouragement. They need that support just to remain standing some days. They need your hand when they require help getting back up and grabbing that rung of the ladder once again. There are days that will leave them in doubt and weary.
Stevie Wonder was asked about his mother's support, he replied:
“Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that flower of love."
If your son or daughter got the calling to be a musician... be happy for them, if it is all consuming for them, it is coming from inside. It is a part of them, just like their height, their eye color, their personality; music grips their very souls.
It means YOU also got the CALLING....perhaps your calling is compassion, fearlessness and encouragement for a young musician who will face the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly.........Music is calling--pick up that phone.