Subscribe Contact Facebook Follow us on Twitter Pinterest Google+ bloglovin

Grace and Works in the Middle School Play

My posting has been very light of late, here and on my own blog because of my day job. You see, I'm a middle school theatre director and we just finished our fall production. The play this year was Fiddler on the Roof, a play that has a wonderful, but very demanding role for the leading male character.

After auditions, it was clear that one student was the right choice for this role. I knew he would knock it out of the park as far as his acting went. However, he was not an experienced singer. In fact, to be honest, he had some fairly significant problems hearing and singing the correct pitches.

Based on prior experience I felt like he'd be able to do the singing, with A LOT of work and practice. I thought this--but wasn't sure. But, I have learned to trust my gut over the years, so I cast him. I know some people were very surprised and had serious doubts about this.

Beginning in July, we started voice lessons one or two times a week. We started to work, note by note. Literally--I pounded a note on the piano and he would try to match it. Then we'd go on to the second note of the song. Then the third, and so on.

Once he had learned the songs this way, I called in some special help--my friend Lara from Overstuffed, who is a regular commenter here. Lara studied vocal performance and pedagogy in college and performs professionally.

Lara started working with this young man, two, even three times a week. Again, note by note, line by line, song by song.

I'm sitting in the back of the theatre as I write this--we're about ten minutes away from the final curtain of the final performance. This young man has been magnificent! His acting was brilliantly, and suddenly, he could sing!

Someone who knew him commented to me that it was an amazing change. The way this comment was made, it sounded like something had just magically changed and, presto! he could sing.

 I've been thinking about this a lot. No one has any idea of the work this young man has put in, the time, the effort, the repetition, the drills. Something changed, and it was a miracle, but it came about because of work, work, work, and more work.

It also came about only because Lara's skills helped direct his work. Without her skill, her merits, his work would have been pointless. Without his work, her expertise would not have availed anything.

This interplay of his work and her expertise has been on my mind lately as they combined to create a really remarkable phenomenon. This is a very good demonstration of what Nephi taught when he said, "it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do" (2 Ne 25:23).

I've always found the arguments about grace vs. works to be flawed for this reason--without one, the other can't be fully efficacious.


Braden Bell is the author of The Road Show. He is a husband, father, teacher, and writer, and blogs about all these roles at

photos owned by Braden. 

Enjoy shopping for quality baby clothing at

Google+ Followers