Music: Not just notes

During high school, I had a goal: I wanted to become the 1st chair violinist of the youth orchestra I was part of. I worked very hard at developing my skill, auditioned, and won the position in my senior year. It was lots of fun to sit at the front of the orchestra and lead my colleagues! I loved the position, and I’m very grateful for the experience I had in the orchestra and as the leader of my section. But I was missing something.

After becoming a music major, I began to see what I was missing. Music majors perform. A lot. Not only does the school require performances, there is a high demand for musicians and we often find ourselves booked with sometimes more than one concert per day nearly every day of the week. Add to that that, despite the fact that I am a music major, I often get stage fright. That’s a lot of time to spend in an environment that isn’t comfortable!

When my schedule started to become that crazy, I had to stop and ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” And I realized that it’s because music is – or should be – beautiful; a way of praising God. What is the point, then, of playing something impressive and technical that isn’t beautiful or touching? I appreciate skill and I am definitely impressed by musicians who can play very high-level material, but I don’t find it emotionally touching, healing, encouraging, or glorifying to God in any real way. It is only impressive.

I spend a lot of time in the practice room thinking about the technical aspects of a piece or practicing finger/bow exercises. After all, that’s what the practice room is for. But when I get out onstage, I have a new mindset. I am not there to show the audience how well I can play the violin. Instead, I’m there to glorify the One who gave us the gift of music, and I hope that I’m able to share beauty and encouragement with my audience. It is my goal to find the music behind the notes.

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