playing wolfgang webI remember clearly the day clearly. It was a big deal for us kids. We were going to surprise the whole congregation. We could barely sit still through the beginning of the service and finally, at last, the big moment came. We stood in the choir loft and sang Jesus Loves Me in Japanese.

I was about 8 years old at the time, and haven’t thought of that day in many years. But, the other night as I was contemplating possible Christmas songs to arrange for Piano Accents, the words just popped in. Suddenly, it was all as though it had just happened the day before.

I know now that our Junior Choir directors, Mr. & Mrs. Benham must have been extraordinary musicians and people. We sang Bach in German, carols in Norwegian, and hymns in Latin. We sang folk songs, rounds, and the music of the great classical composers including many from the 20th Century.

I am humbled by the realization that the roots of my musicianship developed during the two years I was a member of that choir. We moved just after I turned 9 and there was no more singing of that kind in our new city. Yet, those early experiences have come full circle through my fingers, my teaching, and in the pieces I have written for Piano Accents. In that choir, I began to shape my views of what music was and what a well rounded musical education should be.

I can’t say thank you to the Benhams now. But, I hope to honor their contribution to my future by making magic moments, like singing Jesus Loves Me in Japanese, possible for others.



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