Parable # 24: Taking Care of Your Instrument

A Parable by Donald Lee

(This week is the 27thinstallment of the book, “The Band Director’s Lessons About Life”, which TCRN is publishing as a series during 2020. This week, band director and spiritual author Donald Lee relates a parable about taking care of your divine vessel. For a complete listing of previous episodes in this series, click here.)

What we think and what we eat, combined together, make what we are, physically and mentally.

EDGAR CAYCE(Twentieth-century American clairvoyant)

“I don’t want to put that in my mouth! How do I know where it’s been?”

“That’s a very good point, Stella. And it’s wise of you to be concerned.”

Ah, first-year band class. The grade-seven students now had their instruments and were almost ready to start playing them. That meant putting mouthpieces into mouths. Some kids think that’s yucky.

“I am very careful to give each of you a clean musical instrument in good working order. I have personally checked every single instrument, repaired any damage, played each instrument to make sure everything works properly, and washed and disinfected every mouthpiece. The instrument you hold in your hands will not contaminate you and will be an effective tool for your musical expression and creativity,” I reassured them. That was part 1.

“Now it is up to you to keep it that way. From this moment on, it’s in your hands.” That was part 2—helping them take responsibility.

“How are we supposed to do that?” asked Jacob.

“Good question, Jacob. First, cleanliness. Your mouthpiece needs to be cleaned once a week. Of all the parts of your instrument, the mouthpiece will become the dirtiest, quickest. Periodically, at the start of class, just take your mouthpiece over to the sink. There are cleaning brushes, soap, water, and paper towels. It may surprise you that simple soap and water kills about 90 percent of bacteria and viruses. Once your mouthpiece is washed, just spray it with the red disinfectant, wait a minute or two, then rinse it with water. This simple procedure is both effective and necessary.

“Second, if anything breaks on your instrument or it’s not working properly, bring it to me right away. Don’t struggle with a broken instrument. And don’t give it to your dad to fix. Regardless of how smart or talented you think your dad is, he has neither the tools nor the skill to repair musical instruments.”

Crash! All eyes turned toward Liam. His clarinet had slipped off his lap and clattered to the floor.

“I didn’t do anything. It’s not my fault,” Liam pleaded with a look of terror on his face.

“But it is your responsibility, Liam,” I countered. “Let me tell you a story.

“In a certain village lived a wise old man to whom people would often bring their problems. In this village were also two mischievous teenage boys. One day they came up with a devious plan. They caught a small bird. One boy said to the other, ‘Let’s take this bird to the old man. We’ll ask him whether it’s alive or dead. If he says it’s alive, I’ll crush it in my hands and kill it. If he says it’s dead, I’ll open my hands and let it fly away.’ So they set off for the old man’s house, their minds gleefully anticipating the success of their trick.

“‘Old man,’ said the one boy upon arriving at the old man’s house. ‘I have a bird here in my hands. Since you’re so smart, tell me, is it alive or dead?’

“The old man looked carefully and deeply into the eyes of the first boy, then the second. He said, ‘My son, it is in your hands.’

“The bird and the power over its life and death were both in the boy’s hands. Likewise, your instrument is in your hands. What you do with it is both your choice and your responsibility. If your instrument falls to the floor, it is your responsibility. If your instrument is damaged, it is your responsibility. Whether your instrument produces beautiful music or irritating noise is your responsibility. It is all in your hands. I have given you the instrument. I will give you instructions on how to use it. What you do with these gifts is in your hands.”


We are the instrument—spirit, mind, body. God is the Great Musician who plays through us. It is our responsibility to keep our spirit, mind, and body clean, working well, and fit for the task of allowing the Divine music to flow through us and into the world. This is our responsibility—taking care of our instrument.

This book is not about giving you prescriptions on how to keep your body and mind healthy. You can easily find that information for yourself. But be careful about what you put into your body. Be careful about both what you allow into your mind and what comes out of it.

The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, dwells within us and wants to express through us. If our body or mind does not work well, it blocks or perverts that expression.

Recall the opening quote. Watch what you eat and what you think. God has given us our instrument. It’s up to us to keep it clean and functional—and to make beautiful music with it.

We are the instrument: spirit, mind, body. We must keep ourselves clean and healthy so we can fulfill our purpose—to manifest the Love of God in the world in our own unique way.

Donald Lee is a spiritual author and speaker. This article is part of a weekly series for 2020 in which TCRN is publishing his inspirational book, The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle, in serial form – one parable per week. You can learn more about the author at his website:, or order a copy of his complete book on Amazon, or get his free mini eBook and sign up for his weekly blog. Follow Donald on Facebook.

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