IT WAS Dec 20, 1999. My husband and I were out on an anniver-sary date, celebrating 13 years of marriage and 11 years of missionary life in Singapore.
As we strolled by a music shop, we noticed that they were having their annual “Christmas sale” and decided to stop and browse through the music. It wasn’t long before we had become engaged in a conversation with the store manager and happened to mention that we had one daughter pining to play the violin and another daughter keen on learning the harp. Our two great concerns were: 1) finding teachers that would share our passion to train our children to glorify God with their music; and 2) finding teachers that we could afford on a missionary budget. She immediately suggested that we contact the Methodist School of Music (MSM), a
school completely unknown to us.
After the Christmas holidays, our en-tire family (comprising Dad, Mom, Sarah, Rebekah, Daniel, Julia, Susannah, Gloria and Lydia) went down to the MSM, which was then located at Mt Sophia. There we met Ms Mary Gan, the Principal, and Dr Emilia Wong, the then Vice-Principal. How thrilled we were to find that these ladies were also devoted to training young people that would use their musical gifts for ministry in the local church.
We were stunned, however, when Dr Wong sized up our children and suggested, “Why start only Sarah on violin? Let me start all four of your older girls on violin, and go ahead and start Daniel on cello!”
What a proposition! It was exciting to think of our children being able to play hymns together as a string ensemble, yet frightening to think of the staggering cost involved, and so many screeching strings in one home! It was exciting to think of our children learning a new language that they could use worldwide, but frightening to think of the time and commitment it would take …
After several days of prayerful consideration, Pat had peace that this was the direction we would go. Music would become the “mother tongue” for our children and we would trust God to somehow provide as only He could.
Under the excellent instruction of Dr Wong and Ms Chin Chiew Wei, our children progressed beautifully over the following 11/2 years. How thankful we will always be for the excellent foundation that was laid during this period!
When the MSM moved to Upper Bukit Timah Road, we temporarily suspended lessons since little Elisabeth had joined our home. How-ever, we continued lessons at home. How precious it was to go back to the United States for a six-month furlough last year and watch our children provide special music in all of our sup-porting churches.
We rejoice that God has used the MSM to help prepare our children for future ministry opportunities. We are grateful to have our children now back at the MSM, with teachers that are actively participating in the music programmes of their own local churches.
As a mother and busy pastor’s wife, I thank God for a school that has worked with us in order to allow the children to take piano and violin lessons simultaneously. And a wonderful bonus? My children adore their teachers and look forward to Friday, their “Music Lessons Day”!
I wonder how many mothers can truth-fully say that? Thank you, MSM, for all that you have done and all that you are doing to help our children “be to the praise of His glory”. (Ephesians 1:12)
Mary Delaney is the wife of an American missionary pastor serving in a Baptist church in Singapore.
What the children say …
SUSANNAH, nine: “I like Miss Judy as a violin teacher. She has a lot of energy. She makes me laugh. I like going to MSM for lessons.”
JULIA, 10: “I like my piano teacher, Miss Tan, because she is very patient with me when I learn a new song. But we have fun laughing together about different things. She has helped me a lot with my theory!”
DANIEL, 12: “I like my piano teacher, Miss Tan, because she is always giving me harder pieces to work on.”
REBEKAH, 14: “Being a student at the MSM has been a great privilege, both for me and for my family. Having Miss Chin
as my piano teacher has been wonderful! Before I went to her, I was struggling with piano techniques …
“Having Miss Judy Tay as my violin teacher has also been a dream come true.”
SARAH, 15: “I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute I’ve been at the MSM. One thing that I appreciate a lot is the cheerfulness of the staff. It is so encouraging to be greeted by happy smiles every time I go for a music lesson. I also value the thought and time my piano and violin teachers put into my lessons …”