She’s Got Rhythm

A few weeks ago, Grace got behind a trap set in public for the first time and played a number with the Worthington Middle School 6th-grade Jazz Band during a school Renaissance program. She was, naturally, a little bit nervous, but unsurprisingly was up to the challenge and did a mighty fine job keeping the beat.


Some time after her drumming gig, I posted a short video of the band to Facebook, which was met with numerous likes and kind comments. I have to admit, though, that I was hoping/waiting for one commenter in particular; my dad. He’s been playing music since he was a kid and, in the ’90s, went back to school to earn an MFA in music composition at Bard College. Surely he would be excited to his granddaughter making music.


Well, I wasn’t disappointed. Even though Dad says he’s rarely on Facebook, it wasn’t long before he’d viewed the clip. In response, he offered a one-word response: “Wow!” Little did I know what was to follow.


It just so happened that Dad was due for a visit just a few days after Grace’s jazz band performance — it would be his first trip from upstate New York out to southwest Minnesota in about 14 months. We didn’t have any set plans in advance, other than to have a nice dinner out one night and go for coffee at least morning. But the day before he was to arrive, Dad started assembling an idea in his head.


First, he asked me if Grace had a drum set. I responded no, and must admit that I was fearful of him asking if he could buy her one. (I fully support and encourage Grace playing music, but a drum set in our house? Let’s just say I’m not yet ready.) He then asked if we would have access to one, or if we could even rent one somewhere either in Worthington or Sioux Falls. His intention seemed clear; he wanted to jam with his granddaughter.


When he arrived, Dad/Grandpa clearly demonstrated his intention to take such a music-making session one step further. He told Grace that he wanted to play music with her … and that he hoped to write a song with her. Grace was enthusiastic, and things began to move forward from there.


Over the course of an hour at Hy-Vee after church Sunday, Dad and Grace began working on the semblance of a song. Dad showed her a couple videos of blues music to try and give her a sense of what he hoped to accomplish — putting together a simple song with an easy-to-keep beat and words that somehow reflected Grace’s personal experience. Four verses were put down, and the roots of a tune had clearly begun to shape.


On Monday, thanks to the help of Worthington Middle School teachers Jeanette Jenson and Mike Andersen — Grace and her grandpa had their musical time together, with he on piano and she on drums. The actual, full composition of a song ultimately didn’t happen, but it certainly was downright cool to see this duo doing their thing. It’s something I imagine they’ll both remember for many years to come.


Meanwhile, Zach also got some special — though certainly different — one-on-one time with Grandpa, as the two engaged in a few friendly games of air hockey as well as my father’s first ever game of “Madden” on the Xbox. The sight of Dad playing both a video game and a video game revolving around football was definitely a sight to behold.
Then again, seeing Dad with the grandkids was a sight to behold in itself.  

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