On Stage With God
After a desperate call for help, a struggling musician's dream comes true.
BY: Alison Hale
I had wanted to be a professional flutist since I first heard a Beethoven symphony in the fourth grade. In 1979, I had just finished earning a master’s degree in flute performance at a New York City conservatory and was doing some performing and teaching, but not enough to pay the rent. So, I sublet my Upper West Side apartment and moved in with my grandmother in New Jersey.
We had a wonderful time living together. One night, she fell and broke her hip. Over the course of a year, she moved from the hospital to a rehab center and to a nursing home before she died. During that year, I continued to live in her house and commute to Manhattan to teach at my one small job. After my grandmother’s death, her son (my uncle), began to dismantle the house, selling the furniture and giving away her things. Meanwhile, I still could not afford the rent on my apartment, so I continued to live in her increasingly empty house. I was lonely, depressed, and discouraged. Maybe, after all the hours of practicing my flute and all the years of education, this wasn't what I was supposed to be doing with my life.
One day, in desperation, I knelt in the living room and prayed. "God, I do believe that playing and teaching the flute is the work you mean for me to do here on earth. You've given me a wonderful gift and I want to share it, but I need the opportunity to do that. If this is what You want me to be doing, please send me a sign."
Within a week, I had three additional teaching jobs. I moved back into my Manhattan apartment, went on to make my solo debut at Carnegie Hall and earn a doctoral degree in flute performance.
I now have a symphony position and teach at two colleges. Every day of my life, I am grateful because I remember how close I came to giving it all up. The answer to my prayer couldn't have been any more obvious if it had been broadcast in neon lights.
I continue to rely on my relationship with God in many areas of my life but especially in my performances. As I sit backstage before a performance and the pre-concert jitters begin to spread through my body, I remind myself that I'm not here to show off my skill but to share the music through the gift I have been given. A sense of gratitude displaces the jitters, allowing me to center myself, relieving the developing case of nerves, because I know I'm never on that stage alone.