I’m reading the biography of a great conductor, Herbert Blomstedt, entitled A Great Song.  He’s a man well-acquainted with musical scores of every kind and knows what kind of sound he desires from the orchestra.  Of interest to me was a short anecdote about an oratorio Blomstedt conducted that showcased the talents of four vocalists. 

Blomstedt, a Swede, wanted a style of vocal sound that comes from the head, with light vibrato. Three of the vocalists quickly got on board with the technique needed to produce the desired sound.  But not the baritone.  His voice came from deep within the chest with full vibrato. This style would have been valued in other productions, but not in this instance, not with this conductor.

This became a point of contention between the two artists, if I read between the lines. Maestro Blomstedt coached and Mr. Obie, the baritone, cowed. The conductor cajoled and the baritone dug in his heels.  Round and round they went.  The vocalist should have deferred to the authority figure, but he didn’t.  The book sums up conductor’s final position, “I finally realized it was probably better for the work and for the artist that he sing a good Obie, rather than a bad Blomstedt!”

I laughed heartily, because it struck a responsive chord.  How often as a parent, have I wished my child would be different?  Our initial cry, “I just wanted a healthy baby” quickly fades when they don’t walk or potty train as early as others.  

The relief that our infants have all ten fingers and toes, dries out when at age six or seven  it becomes clear they can’t run as fast, read as well or speak as clearly as their age-mates. The balloon of expectations gets popped by the pin of reality. And later, when they choose a major in college we don’t approve of? What then?

And I haven’t even begun to talk about expectations within marriages!

I have been a Mr. Obie, feeling disillusioned when my spouse’s expectation of how I was to fill a role didn’t match the way I felt called to fill it.  And I have also been a Maestro Blomstedt, coaxing and cajoling my spouse to do things my way.  

No wonder I laughed aloud when I read those lines, “It was probably better… he sing a good Obie rather than a bad Blomstedt.”  The relief in our marriage was palpable when we finally allowed each other to be who God intended us to be, and not who we, the opposite spouse, felt the other should be.

Marriage is much like music.  There are movements, each with their own rhythm and pace, when one spouse’s instrument plays louder than the other.  But the beauty is when you hear the full symphony and allow all the instruments to shine at their appointed moment, in their appointed way.

Is there someone in your life whose reins you need to loosen, so they can decide for themselves how they want to shine?

“Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herd and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together… So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers… Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left…” So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east.” excerpts from Genesis 13:5-11

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