"Pajama Practice"

As a young mother of 3, I wake up every day with the enormous hurdle of teaching my children music.

I’m blessed - I have a wonderful role model in my own mother who taught me and my six siblings how to play from a young age.

“How do you keep them practicing?” It’s a question I’ve heard again and again, and sometimes ask myself the same thing when the day is long. How did our mother keep us practicing? 

She had 5 rules:

1. Pajama Practice. Practice first thing in the morning. The mind is fresh, and learning a stringed instrument is hard work!

2. Find A Good Teacher. A good teacher is methodical and provides your child with a horizon for success including competitions and other community events. An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree - good students point to a good teacher.

3. Perform! Seek out opportunities to showcase. What would we think of a football team that practiced but never played a game? Ask your teacher for music that you can use to play anywhere and everywhere. 

4. Not Alone. Practicing music that no one wants to hear in a lonely practice room is something no one wants to do. Spend as much time as you can practicing with your child or hearing their music. Find other players who can play with them in a group. 

5. Never Quit While You’re Down. Every musician has low points. There were times, after a failed competition or a lousy performance, that we would be tempted to talk about quitting or (the distinction without a difference) “re-directing” our focus to other things. But our mother held to a rule: no quitting while you’re down. You can only quit after a big success. Good psychology!

Ultimately a child keeps practicing because their instrument is something they’re good at, something that connects them with friends and family, something that enriches their life. That’s the experience we want for every child.

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"CREATIVE FREEDOM"

A few years back my family traveled to North Korea.

As you might imagine, it was a life-changing experience. We saw a lot of strange things while we were there, but one of the memories that sticks with me is standing for an hour in a hotel lobby, waiting for our guides to “get their orders”. You see, we weren’t free to walk where we liked - we had to wait for a plan from higher up.

Believe it or not that experience reminds me of a musical parallel. Countless musicians are like our North Korean tour guides, only in their case, they’re stuck waiting for notes from a composer or arranger. They need someone higher up to tell them what to play.

We need more democracy in music. We need more creative freedom. We need better education for musicians to also be young composers.

But that will only come when we teach our young musicians to write music as well as read it and play it. We would never think it was acceptable for someone learning a new language to be stuck reciting pre-written lines. Why should we accept it for our aspiring artists?

That’s why the Conservatory of Annie Moses encourages all its students to write songs, compose melodies, and coin thoughts and experiences that are personal to them. It’s one way we are revolutionizing the world of the arts for the glory of God.

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"Our Vision For The Arts"

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard Annie Moses Band perform at your church or local theater, or maybe you’ve seen us on one of our PBS specials. While we love performing as a family, that is not our only calling. 

The Annie Moses Band is pursuing an ambitious mission to transform the world of the arts for the glory of God.  

Envision a time when the new Broadway musical, the next Netflix series, or the latest Oscar-winning film is created by faith-filled artists - when the screens of smartphones everywhere emblazon the truths of God into the minds of the next generation.   

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This is the world Annie Moses Foundation is making a reality, one young artist at a time.

For decades, a void has been growing in the social fabric of the West. Education is increasingly atheistic and politicized while the world of music, television, and film promotes destructive messages that poison the hearts of our families. 

Our world needs truth. Our world needs beauty. Our world needs excellence.

The Annie Moses Foundation is turning the tide in two ways:

- first, through exceptional arts programs that equip young musicians to not only perform, but create new artistry with excellence.

- second, through original content, both musical and visual, that reflects the beauty of our Creator and enriches the lives of His people.  

But to realize this mission, we need your help. 

Our primary project is the renovation of a new facility that will house our on-going arts program for young musicians called the Conservatory of Annie Moses. The Conservatory is a one-of-a-kind program that is designed to form young musicians who are fully fluent in musical creativity, classical technique commercial genres, stagecraft, and the branding and business of a professional career. It’s the first phase in our mission to occupy the world of the arts for the glory of God.

Unlock the creativity of a child

"Sarah's Story"

I first met Sarah when she was 14. From the first I loved her sweet spirit and dedication to the violin. She played the instrument like it was her baby.

But despite her obvious passion, Sarah’s technique was riddled with problems. Her bow position and left hand were awkward and caused her pain. 

The tragedy was Sarah was no beginner - she had been playing for 8 years and was far behind where should could have been. 

It wasn’t her fault. Sarah came from a small town in Tennessee and was inspired to play by hearing a local fiddler. He taught her what he could, but after a while, she had to look elsewhere and ended up studying with someone who wasn’t even a violinist. Lack of opportunities and bad information had literally locked up her fingers and arms, keeping her from unleashing her love for the instrument.

 Sarah and her young students.

Sarah and her young students.

In a divine moment her mother saw a flyer for our Summer Music Festival and sent Sarah to our musical program. She kept coming, and almost a decade later, Sarah is not only an outstanding player, but a thriving composer and arranger. Today Sarah teaches a studio full of promising students back in the small town she calls home. 

Her students won’t have to grapple with bad information and a lack of teachers. Instead they’ll have Sarah - a musical missionary, transforming the world she was born into with excellence and a heart for God. Her story is just one of the many lives the Annie Moses Foundation is changing for the better. 

"A Mother's Story"

Many years ago my mother sat back in her music survey class as a troupe of Suzuki violinists marched into the classroom.

She had never seen anything like it. In particular one very cute and petite Asian girl caught her attention. As she watched, a voice came to her: “When you have a little girl, they should do that.” My mother never forgot the words God had spoken to her, and when I turned five, my mother began my studies in the violin. 

 From one generation to the next.

From one generation to the next.

To understand the power of that moment, you have to know my mother’s background. She was raised in the sticks, in one of the most backwater corners of Oklahoma. Some of her neighbors didn’t get electricity till the 70s! But as her life unfolded with one divine appointment after another, my mountain-raised mother found herself studying in Oklahoma City with some of the nation’s best voice teachers. Years later, she shepherded me and my siblings to the Juilliard School where we studied string instruments.  

My mother lived a journey few get to travel. Most parents long to give their children a first-class musical education. They hear their child play a fragment of a melody or share a few moments of lovely singing and recognize a gift. But like a stranded traveler, they have no way of getting from where they are to where they need to be. 

That’s why we’ve created the Annie Moses Method, an online music curriculum that brings the pedagogy of Juilliard to the parents of Main Street America. In a series of high quality and easy-to-understand videos, I map out the core techniques and practice habits that are all too often locked behind the doors of academia. 

As I look into the camera I imagine myself speaking to a parent like my mother many years ago: someone with a passion for music who needs a way from here to there. Making that way straight is the mission of Annie Moses Foundation.

"ARE SPORTS DIVINE?"

Sometimes after a concert I hear parents say, “Our family doesn’t do music. We do sports.”

Now I have nothing against sports. Good exercise, the outdoors, and team spirit are all wonderful additions to life. But the arts are not equal to sports. They are far more important.

To understand why, we have to remember God’s commandments. “Sing to the Lord!” declares the Psalmist. “Sing to the Lord a new song! Play skillfully! Make His praise glorious!”

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On the flip side, if you are Bible scholar you may recall these important Scriptures: “Throw a pass for the Lord!”, “Shoot hoops with excellence!”, and “Let the soccer ball soar!”  

If you’re scratching your head, you’d be right - there are no equivalent Scriptures for sports. In fact, there are no Scriptures that tell us to be good at math or social studies or cooking or a hundred other things. Only the arts receive such divine approbation.

That is not to undermine other pursuits - obviously they are incredibly important for human flourishing. But it is to return the arts to their rightful place: not as an “extra-curricular activity”, but as one of the pre-eminent pursuits of mankind.

Why? The Scriptures give us the answer: “Praise the Lord!” When the arts reflect a love for God, when they embody His Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, people are turned toward Him and a society is lifted up. Besides prayer and other spiritual disciplines, the arts are the only human activity that can draw the gaze of people from the ordinariness of life up to the surpassing beauty of their Creator. They remind us that we are made for something more.

That is the gift the arts can give. That is the mission of the Annie Moses Foundation.

"I Don't Think I Can Do This."

“I just don’t think I can do this.” Joe’s face was the picture of disappointment. I tried to think what to say. 

Joe was a young violinist from Florida. He and his sister were self-taught fiddlers who’d seen us perform at their church and made the long, hot drive from the Everglades to Music City USA for our Summer Music Festival. 

They’d arrived with bells on, but now Joe’s enthusiasm was crushed under a pile of orchestra music he couldn’t read. “I think the best thing may be for my sister and me to head home.”

“Give it another day,” I said. “I’ll talk to Kirsten about working with you personally so you can get the music in your ear. Let’s see what 48 hours brings.” Joe reluctantly agreed, and I called up Kirsten, one of our long-time violin faculty members. She took Joe under wing, and I hoped for the best. 

Two days passed, and I got a good report: Joe was making progress. During the Festival we write and arrange five professional shows for the musicians who register, and the event can be a whirlwind. The night of our final Gala, we performed at the Grand Ole Opry House to a great crowd. 

 Violin student in orchestra practice at The Annie Moses Summer Music Festival

Violin student in orchestra practice at The Annie Moses Summer Music Festival

After the show Joe came up to me. “I had the time of my life,” he said. “I’m going to come back next year.” And he did - this time having studied with a new teacher and courses in theory and note-reading under his belt. 

I know that summer changed the trajectory of Joe’s life. That’s our mission - to glorify God by forming extraordinary young artists.