Common Ground: Music For & From the Heart

Common Ground: Music For & From the Heart

By: Ellen Bertleson

During the past couple of years, Common Ground has been able to spread its wings (or strings) and provide elementary school aged children with outstanding music performances. These musicians entertain and educate. Watching these young ones wiggle, tap their toes, clap their hands and beam with sheer happiness touches my heart!

My parents were musicians and the rule at our home was to play an instrument and practice a minimum of 30 minutes a day. My mother would set the oven’s timer to ensure the proper amount of practice time (this device was difficult if not impossible to move forward for fewer minutes, not that I ever tried). I was fortunate. I was very blessed. My mother has long passed, but my dad still fills my home with the wonderful jazz hits of yesteryear. So as I watch these eager and precious faces, I am honored to serve in Common Ground as we bring a loving gift to our children … the sound of music.


When the time comes, many students cannot afford to rent or buy a musical instrument. I learned this first hand. I share this story, but I want you to know that it comes with a very humble heart. Last year I became aware through Common Ground that a child at one of our schools was in need and dreamed of obtaining a flute. I am a flutist, but due to physical restrictions I am no longer able to play my flute. So there it sat…my silver flute that I had worked so hard at Jack in the Box to own. My dad and I used to have many loving and playful musical conversations while sitting on our piano bench; I with my flute, my love, in my hands. You can guess what happened next. I took my flute to a Common Ground school. The idea was that I would loan the student my flute for the school year. As I made eye contact with this soon-to-be musician, I knew all bets were off. I handed this almost young adult my flute and said, “It’s yours to keep on three conditions. Love this instrument. Practice every day for at least 30 minutes (oven timer?). And understand it is not a toy for others to play with…show it to them and encourage them to seek music, too.” My flute has been gone for more than a year. Music…it’s for our hearts and can be from your heart, too.

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