Maybe you’ve seen those inspirational tips-for-life kind of posters. Things like “do less,” “accept what you have,” and “enjoy the journey.” Well, I’d like to add a trite saying of my own. Or maybe I took it from somewhere else, I don’t know. Whatever the case, here goes:

Be the first to applaud.

A few weeks ago I drove Jacque three and half hours to a small university town in Kentucky for a junior high honor band concert. She’d been nominated by her band teacher for her quick grasp of the French horn. She has indeed progressed from honking elephant to smooth, lovely tones.

We awoke shortly after 4 a.m. on a Saturday and made it for check-in just in time. The kids rehearsed all morning, broke for lunch, then resumed rehearsals until 4:30 p.m. I’d found a coffee shop to work on some stuff but later, finished with work, returned and found a seat in the little recital hall and read. Occasionally, I’d look up to watch my baby rehearse for what is sure to be many more concerts. (Culminating hopefully in a college scholarship.)

At one point the patient, encouraging director told the kids to remain still like statues at the end of the piece. They could relax only when the audience began to applaud. One kid asked, and I think he may have been genuinely concerned, “What if they don’t?”

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. –Philippians 4:8 ESV

As a musician who has time after time poured my heart into a performance, I exhort you to be the first to applaud. Don’t leave the kids hanging. In higher brow circles, they might disdain untimely applause, like between movements of a symphony, but I say, hey, if you want to applaud, do it. I think that’s why I like jazz performances, because at any point if a musician does something “worthy of praise,” you can clap and hoot and holler right then and there.

Make it your goal at the next event you attend: to be the first to put two hands together. For that matter, it doesn’t even need to be a performance. Be generous in praise.

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