Friday, May 18, 2018


I met John in my first high school as principal when he was the band director and instructor. He had a ready laugh, a ready joke and a wry wit and a glint in his eye that announced a prank- any prank- on anyone. You were never safe around John. And whatever he did or caused would leave everyone laughing. He was as much a colleague as he was a friend. I admired him so much that I ended up hiring him at my next school as the band director and instructor.

Kids lived in his room. They were welcomed and were accepted and were safe. They ate lunch, and sometimes breakfast there. They’d hang out. It was a home away from home.

I remember one commencement sitting up on the stage next to a school board member watching and listening to the band perform. The musical selection was from Pirates of the Caribbean. Not sure what the selection had to do with commencement- probably nothing, other than to showcase the students.

His arms waved (not sure if that is the correct musical term, but you get the picture), his short body lifted and jumped. Throughout the whole song, I don’t think I took my eyes off of him. I couldn’t. I know folks maybe overuse the term mesmerize, but that’s exactly what happened. Probably for others to.

By the time the piece had ended, John was red-faced and sweaty and puffing a little. The board member turned to me and said in a not so quiet tone, “Wow! My God, is he good!” I couldn’t agree more.

I see the same in Eddie, Joe and Mandy who are the current band, choir and orchestra instructors. High expectations, but a willingness to help kids meet them. A home and safe haven for kids. A place where kids feel they belong. A surrogate mom or dad. The kids respond to them in a way that they don’t respond to others.

And the really unique thing about John, or Eddie, or Joe, or Mandy is that they don’t play a note. They don’t sing a note. They wave their arms and grimace and smile and maybe dance slightly, and magic happens. Yes, magic. All of it comes from the kids sitting or standing in front of them- they’d be the first to tell you that.

But the magic, the real magic, is they don’t play a note. They don’t sing. The only thing they might say is by way of introducing the piece or introducing the soloists. And at the end of the piece, each one steps to the side, lifts up an arm and presents the kids as having done a great job. He or she might bow, but it is on behalf of the kids.

Do they get nervous? Maybe. After all, they are the proud “parents” of the kids sitting or standing before them. After all, they try to place “their children” in the best light possible for the benefit of the audience filled with family and friends.

Did I mention proud? Yes, I did, and I meant it. I’m sure John, Eddie, Joe and Mandy can point to specific passages where it didn’t go quite right or as well as they had hoped. But in the end, they have to be so proud of what the kids accomplished.

Did I mention what the kids accomplished? Yes, I did, and I chose those words specifically. Because if you were to compliment each instructor as I have done, they are quick to say thank you, but point out that it was the kids- not them. Each time, every time. It was the kids. Well, I agree, but it was the kids who performed under their direction, their lead.

Each of them, John, Eddie, Joe and Mandy work their magic, and their magic is done in silence.

They lead. They conduct. Every ounce of energy is focused on the kids. They live in the moment of each selection, each piece. And they create magic.

In silence. Their actions are truly, louder than their words. As it should be. For you and for me. Actions are louder than words. Through action, through silence magic happens. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I have been really blessed with some wonderful reviews on my new novel, Caught in a Web. Best Thrillers wrote: “The Bottom Line: This important, nail-biting crime thriller about MS-13 sets the bar very high. One of the year’s best thrillers.” You can read the entire review (rather short, but impactful) at    

Another review, from Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer at The Midwest Book Review wrote: “As the investigators review relationships, affairs, and threats, they find themselves unraveling an ever-increasing web of deception as readers are carried into a thrilling underworld of gang violence and teen involvements which gradually lead to a resolution where characters may fudge on honesty, but tie up loose ends.

Characters are many, but are well-drawn; the action offers just the right blend of tension and intrigue; and detective story enthusiasts will especially relish the level of emotional inquiry which makes the characters both human and believable.

The result is an involving detective piece that probes the worlds of teens and gang members with an equal attention to precise, staccato details that flow smoothly into a story that creates a satisfying conclusion to all conundrums.” You can read the entire review, again fairly short, at

So far on Goodreads, Caught in a Web has received ratings from 73 individuals and has garnered a 4.35 out of 5. Nice return for only three weeks in release.

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Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe