by Bill Stephens, Columnist, Metro News Wire Service
Updated Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. CT
So Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas season has officially begun. While it seems that Christmas has been pushed up as early as Halloween, well it has.
Thanksgiving? If you looked around, it was gone in a blink. And instead of centering on the true meaning, the focus has become totally concentrated on shopping; black Friday, this and that. And as I age I have become more disappointed in the season.
We have forgotten what the season truly represents. First and foremost, it is the celebration of a very special birthday – that of Jesus, who was born in a manger to a couple so poor they could not afford a room at the Inn.
Mary and Joseph shared the joy of the arrival of their child with the animals, the stars in the sky and one very special star.
That star called to and guided three kings to the place of His arrival. They brought with them the very first gifts that had the same meaning then as they still do today.
The first gift was of gold to represent kingship on earth and to shower riches upon the rumored arrival of a savior. The second gift, frankincense, used as incense to signify His priestly role.
Today, frankincense is used by many as a natural cure and relief for a number of ailments from arthritis to other sorts of pain. In fact, Frankincense just might be the very most important of those first three gifts as we are still finding out more about this gift.
The third and final gift, Myrrh, was used as an embalming oil. It signified Christ's death and embalming as life has a beginning and an end.
At this time of year, we are to celebrate the joy of the season and reflect on the past years events. It is also a time to remember loved ones that have left us.
We should share stories about them with our children as this will keep our dearly departed loved ones alive not only in our hearts, but will give our children a fee l for who they were and what they have left behind.
As we age and share these family stories with our children, take a step back. Take stock of what mark you are leaving behind.
For example, the Christmas seasonal TV shows and movies are upon us. Many of us grew up having watched the animated staples, “Santa Clause is Coming to Town”, “Frosty the Snowman” and others. These are not just classics; they are in a sense a legacy that is handed down to our children and then to the grandchildren.
The actors that voiced those animations were stars that while growing up we watched on TV and in movies. They were actors, singers and musicians whose voices will live on forever and will find a place in the next generations hearts and childhoods that will most likely be passed on to their children.
Legacy – A big word in action, but HUGE in meaning. This season is a good time to reflect on what your legacy is.
If you haven’t been kind to one another, be kind. We all have challenges in life and we really don’t have a clue what that person sitting next to you at the restaurant, your server or even the driver in traffic next to you is going through today.
It could be anything - bad health news, lost a job, loss of a loved one. Treat all people with respect. Start here. If they do something to not deserve your respect, do not mistreat them. The best thing is to give them space.
It’s a time for gifting – A gift can be as simple as a smile or a greeting.
Acknowledging someone can be a huge gift. You could make someone’s day by just smiling at them.
Give the gift of common courtesy. Hold a door for someone. In traffic, take your time. You will get there. It is better for everyone to get there safe anyway.
Bottom line – put someone else first. It will come back to you ten fold.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas. Spend as much family time together as possible. Laugh, sing and eat. The diets start on New Years day.
Summerfest 'School of Rock' unites
music students from US & Australia
Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 8:00 PM
High school students participated in "School of Rock" which had participants from America and Australia during Summerfest 2015 at Henry Maeir Festival Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. / Photo: Bill Stephens, Metro News Chicago
When you hear the words "School Of Rock," most will think of the movie starring Jack Black. On June 27th and 28th, over 500 student performers from 34 different School of Rock locations showed off their training, talent and love for rock music on multiple stages at Summerfest in Milwaukee. The participating students came from 16 states nationwide and Australia to compete against each other and in some cases themselves. Performing in front of a live audience with multiple band mates and various guest mentors can provide a learning experience, feedback and exposure in a real world environment.
I am an assigned photographer that each year spends each of the 11 days sampling music from the 11 different stages and over 800 performances that Summerfest has to offer. As a live performance photographer, I am charged with capturing images of performances in an effort to communicate the music visually freezing time using my eye and camera. These students not only demonstrate their musical aptitude and showmanship, they also believe in the music with all of their heart and soul.
Learning and performing any form of music takes dedication and hours of practice. In this case, performing with musicians they may have never met or performed with increases the level of difficulty and adds another level of complexity and learning experience. When performing in a band environment, you are now part of a tight unit, a team, that when all members are working together communicates the thoughts and feelings the composer put down on paper.
While music takes many shapes, Rock, Country, Classical, Rap, Blues, etc. and every musician has their own style, these students are no different. A musician’s expression is more powerful than just playing the notes. Anyone can learn to play the notes; painting a picture with the music and communicating that feeling from the heart is the difference. The School of Rock has been able to teach the student to convey the feeling and soul of the music. You have to believe in the music or you will never communicate with your audience.
I attended part of the finals at the BMO Harris Stage. Truly amazing performances by all. And, while I did not witness the winner, for the record, everyone is a winner by the students gaining experience and the audience being able to share their involvement. Kudos to the School of Rock and Summerfest, I hope they continue this partnership for the sake of the students and the future of musical performance.
For more information on the School, visit their website at www.schoolofrock.com
by Bill Stephens / Metro News
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