by Crystal Hairston, Vocal Music Teacher at King’s Elementary School
I will never forget the day my daughter came to me a few years back asking what I knew about the man on the U.S. ten-dollar bill. I admittedly did not have much information to offer and could barely remember his name. Upon my confession, my daughter excitedly began to tell me about American history and, in particular, the life and accomplishments of Alexander Hamilton. This, coming from my daughter, who declared just a year before her disdain for and disinterest in history, was a huge surprise. Intrigued by this sudden heightened interest, I asked, curiously, where she had gotten all of this information. She told me she recently fell in love with the music of a new Broadway musical called “Hamilton”, was absolutely fascinated by the story and amazed that it was being told in modern language with a hip-hop sound. For the first time, history had become relevant and alive to her. Suddenly those “old faces” became real people with stories she was captivated by through music she could relate to and enjoy.
Before we knew it, my husband and I were ordering books on American history, constantly listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and watching re-enactments of the musical done by our girls in the living room. This spark of interest and new passion brought us joy, as we watched it grow into a deep love of musicals for our daughter. Although I anticipated the appreciation for history would be short-lived, I’d hoped it would stick around. A few weeks ago, I was more than pleased to hear that my daughter was meeting with her Sunday school group to write and produce a musical based on an Old Testament story to help make the Bible more current and relatable to kids her age. She understood how music brought history to life for her and wanted to offer this similar experience to others as well.
This is what music and the arts does. It has the incredible power to reach across generations, culture, geography, language and time to bring the creator and its audience into sacred and unified space to experience story. Music and the arts speak to us, even without words. It is an expression that has the power to reach us at our core and inspire us at great depth.
As a music teacher, it is a regular objective of mine to not only encourage an appreciation for the arts, but to discover and spark passion and interest in the hearts of individual children. It excites me to provide opportunities that empower the students to find and share their own creative “voice” or expression. Each of us has a story to share, a unique intent or a meaningful message. Music and the arts provide a seemingly limitless platform by which each of my students can find their own way to share a part of themselves with a diverse audience. We explore various areas of interest from traditional choral music to drama, dance, puppetry, painting and music production.
There is something powerful about discovering an art form that one connects with, courageously creating a unique expression through it and allowing others to experience it. There is something even more beautiful when this expression comes from the fearless and boundless hearts and hands of children. They only need the willingness to embrace the process, try and try again, believe in the creativity that boldly lives in them and joyously share their gifts. Inspiration is contagious!
Crystal Hairston is in her sixth year as the Vocal Music Teacher at King’s Elementary School. She is a passionate worship leader, writer/blogger, artist and proud mother and wife. She enjoys ministry, speaking and teaching alongside her husband, Tali, and finds incredible joy in journeying with and shaping the beautiful young hearts that come through the doors of her classroom.