“The Song of Annie Moses: A Musical Quest, A Mother’s Gift” by Robin Donica Wolaver
Five years ago, I invited the Annie Moses Band to perform here in Cookeville at a concert sponsored by the Stevens Street School of Performing Arts. The school purchased tickets for each of our students to hear this conservatory-trained family “chamber pop” ensemble, as part of our mission to provide them with opportunities to be exposed to great live musical performances. But while the AMB concert was fantastic (as always!), the highlight of the weekend came the following morning as Annie and Robin Wolaver spoke with our students and parents about the importance of good practicing (requiring the diligence of the child AND the parent) and their own road to musical excellence.
For many parents who attended, that morning changed not only the way they practiced with their children; it changed the way they lived and parented. For some, that meant instituting “pajama practice” the next morning, a discipline that has remained in place for years. For others, the result was a conviction to emphasize family prayer time in the home. And for some it opened their eyes to the possibility of early childhood music education, leading them to enroll their young children in lessons the following week. Many of the families who attended that day are still enrolled in private music lessons, and most of them are excelling!
During that morning’s workshop, Mrs. Wolaver mentioned that somehow, in the midst of a busy travel schedule, ongoing musical instruction, and being a homeschooling mom, she was also working on writing a book with much of the same content that she had shared with us. I am happy to report that this book has arrived at long last!
The Song of Annie Moses is a riveting read, not only because of the author’s credibility when speaking about raising musical children, but also because of her skill as a writer and storyteller (she isn’t a Dove Award-winning songwriter for nothing!). If you are a music teacher or a parent, this absolutely has a place on your bookshelf.
That said, this book is not for the feint-of-heart.
Any delusions that the Wolavers’ path to success was an easy one should be chucked out right now. Theirs is a tale of diligence, perseverance, and faith that would put most of us to shame. From the 5 a.m. practice sessions to moving their entire family to the East Coast in order to benefit from some of the best music teachers in the world, Bill and Robin’s commitment to their children’s instruction is both daunting and inspiring.
Difficult? Absolutely. Impossible? Not at all. While most families will not (and need not) go to the extremes that the Wolavers did, every family can learn from their example. With parenting principles ripped straight from the pages of Scripture, there is much to be admired and emulated in their family dynamic: contentment with little, rightly-ordered priorities, and an unquenchable dedication to the discipleship of their children, to name a few.
What I love about this book as a music teacher is the way Wolaver seamlessly weaves tried-and-true practices of music education into the story. She includes all the statistics and research findings that music teachers wish more parents would know about, but by incorporating them into an engaging narrative, she delivers them with greater impact than the raw data we’re used to seeing “in the business.” This book is an absolute gold mine of tips and encouragement for music teachers and parents alike. And for those who do like the raw data laid out in black & white, four appendices address practical concerns such as how to choose an instrument and find a good teacher.
If you’re a musician, a parent, or someone who just loves a good story, pick up a copy of The Song of Annie Moses today!
Here’s Robin Wolaver describing the book in her own words: