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By: Dr. Lucie Pentz

Over the weekend I was talking to my husband who is a fellow child psychologist and knows our community well. I was preparing a talk for parents and staff and looking for a musical metaphor to describe the St. James Academy community.  I said “I think that SJA is like a large orchestra” and he looked at me and said “No way, orchestra is way too prescribed.  St. James is more like a jazz band.” So, SJA is like a large jazz band.  The more I thought about it, the more the description seemed to fit.

So what do we know about playing in a jazz band?

— There’s the band leader, the player most in charge.

— There are different instruments, gifts and talents of the musicians, and parts of the music, but one melodious musical sound. We’re all different, but we play together and produce music.

— This beautiful music does not happen without following certain rules and structure. Everyone plays together in the same key and the same time signature but NOT the same notes. We have the SJA Honor Code, Handbook etc.. to provide the structure within which we get to improvise and play our individual parts.

— There’s time to solo and time to be play a supporting role while attentively and sensitively listening to our fellow band members.

— Every player has an equal value but a different role producing a balance between individuality and conformity. So on one hand… we have the beautiful individuality of each talent and on the other hand we have the conformity of following the rules, structure and boundaries as we all listen to and follow our band leader and fellow musicians.

— There’s a fine balance between focusing on ourselves and our own contribution to the music and noticing (not criticizing) what others are doing. When we mess up or others mess up, we extend grace to ourselves and others.

— This is also a good time to realize and respect that not everyone will make music the same way you do or the way you would like them to.  There’s always the squeaky saxophone that may annoy you, but it might be liberating to know that sometimes we get to be the squeaky saxophone to somebody else.  You will likely meet some members of the community that may not be your cup of tea. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be best friends, you just need to play well together.

— So no good music comes from chaos, everyone doing as they wish, showing little consideration for others. The “we” is more important than the “I”.

As we start another year, let’s be a great jazz band. Let’s make beautiful “cool” music together.