Of the Ages and All Ages

My family attended a home church for several years when I was in middle school. I was a new believer, and very passionate. Our church did not have many musicians, so unless someone brought their guitar, most weeks we worshiped with printed out lyrics to a CD of worship music put together by one of the men in the group.

One week we were singing the song “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin. I enthusiastically sang with my eyes closed until I realized that no one else was still singing. I realized that everyone was watching me and laughing. While at the time, I was embarrassed, I realized later that they weren’t laughing because I was “doing it wrong;” they were laughing because they were happy to see me excited to worship.


Psalm 71 demonstrates the power of multi-generational worship. It says: “Oh God, you have taught me from my youth, and to this day I declare your wondrous works” (Psalm 19:17). Training in righteousness and praise does not begin when a worshiper reaches adulthood, but starts from youth.

The psalmist goes on to say that even when “I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare your strength to this generation, your power to everyone who is to come” (Psalm 19:18). This is witnessing, which Harold best describes as “overheard worship.”[1] Sharing the delights of worshiping God is a joy without age limits, but Scripture describes it as unique in old age, because it shows the longevity of God’s faithfulness.

Multigenerational is right and beautiful, but how do we encourage it? Multigenerational worship requires worshipers to become servants of each other, by using music that represents different generations, and not just the worship leader’s musical preference.   

When Paul and Timothy urge the Philippians to be like-minded, one characteristic is to “each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4). What is a better picture of this than when we sing to one another? When worship leaders select music, they should seek music not just from their own generation’s songbook, but some from that of the senior saints, and some from that of the youth.

If I am singing music that is not my favorite stylistically so someone else can worship authentically, I am submitting my interests to the interests of others. When I only choose music that is my favorite, I am making my preferences into my god.

So next time that you see a young child worshiping, let it be a reminder of the joy of growing in godliness. If you see a senior saint worshiping, remember that God’s faithfulness is not a passing fancy. When you see them worshiping together, remember the gift of unity we have in Christ Jesus.


[1] Harold Best, Music through the Eyes of Faith (New York: HarperCollins, 1993), 203.

Music as Gift

When I’m having a bad day, I often listen to sad music and let myself feel sad for a while. Then I turn on a “bop” and try to use the music to give myself an emotional shot of happiness. When I’m walking through campus on the way from a long class to a longer class, I tend to turn on an upbeat song and dance my way there to get a burst of energy and enthusiasm.

In our culture, we often use music as a way to express our emotions (I am sad), and to shape our emotions (I am enthusiastic). This can be a blessing, but it can also be a danger to us. The danger of individual emotion-driven music is that it often excludes the idea that music is a gift we give.

If I only choose to listen to music that gives me an emotional experience, I miss the opportunity to listen to music that is special to someone else as a gift. I also lose a chance to give the gift of expression to a friend, because I’m not thinking about what would serve them.

This idea can leak into how we view corporate worship. When we attempt to evaluate a worship service by how it affects our emotions, we are treating it like we would a concert. Our goal should be serving others, not being served by music.

Individual music is not inherently bad. But we should evaluate how we treat music, and whether we let our individual preferences trump corporate growth. If I dislike a song that serves the Church because it doesn’t give me a certain emotional reaction, I am making music into my servant rather that being a servant of God and his Church.[1]

So what can we do about this? A good first step is to ask: whom can I serve by learning about their music? I can affirm a culture that is different than mine by affirming what is good about its music, especially if I need to work to enjoy it. This also includes how I sing songs in corporate worship that are not comfortable for me.

If I only listen to music that gives me the emotions that I want, my music will reflect and strengthen only my own emotions and thoughts.But when I sacrifice my own preferences to someone else’s heart music, I have a chance to serve them and express truth that is fuller and deeper than I could ever experience on my own.


[1]See also Harold Best, Music: Through the Eyes of Faith (New York: HarperCollins, 1993), 175-6.

Satisfied

I started with good intentions for the semester. I set myself some hard goals to keep moving forward in the areas I love (see the unfortunately flopped Tea House Trials), but I had some unexpected harder commitments. This is when I started to have trouble getting everything done. But I wouldn’t stop saying yes. 

Several people tried to warn me about doing too much at once. My mom told me to cut out some commitments, but I wanted to stay in everything to be consistent. Some friends told me I wasn’t looking well (not harshly, but worried for my health). I ignored them. I had the choice to say no to more commitments, to stop working for a while, to rest rather than try to have the best grade. But I chose to say yes to more and more, rather than saving yes for the most important things.

This revealed a greater heart problem than being too busy.  I realized thatI wanted satisfaction from what I could do, rather than from Jesus.This theme was made clear to me in Hebrews.  The book shows how Jesus is above everyone from angels to Moses. It shows how Jesus is highly exalted above all things. Then, Hebrews 13:5 says: Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself [Jesus] has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” If the Lord of all was not enough for me, I was missing His character. When I chose to glorify work rather than God, I was putting my satisfaction in what I could do, rather than the Lord I served. I was worshiping work. 

This is how I want to grow. I want to honor the Lord by saying no to over commitment that harms my health and steals my time from everything else. I want to be satisfied in Jesus, not in what I can do. So moving forward, my prayer is to see Jesus as ever more valuable and satisfying. Work is a gift, but the Lord is the Giver (James 1:16-18). And He is far more satisfying. 

 

The Great Tutorial Day

The Tea House Trials 

Pro Tools Tutorial Expectation: I get on the internet. I find several interesting tutorials, about fifteen minutes long each. There are also some longer tutorials, but I save them for later. Armed with these brief bursts of information, I have a short listening session before I go to work.

Pro Tools Tutorial Reality: I get on the internet. There are many tutorials, all at least forty-five minutes long (except for the part-one-of-twelve videos). Realizing that I could make and drink six cups of tea in the amount of time it would take for me to get through one video, I am swamped with information.

The good side of this story is that I found a helpful series of articles on getting started with Pro Tools from Jeff Towne. That is a good enough start for today, and hopefully I’ll be prepared with a kettle for next time. 

Tea of the day: Earl Grey with Jasmine. I may have an Earl Grey obsession. 

Day One: Picking a Song

The Tea House Trials

I had the first moment of “Oh, I didn’t really think this through all the way, did I?” today. Since I’m working on one song, I actually have to pick a song. I have six completed songs, plus a couple of uncompleted ones. I’ll safely rule out the uncompleted ones to eliminate extra work, and I have one song that I’m using for a collaboration. This leaves me with five songs. 

The first is a song of unrequited love. This song has the most potential for adding other sounds and instruments besides piano/vocals. 

Next, I have a reflection on Psalm 34. This song would need some polishing before recording, but it’s classic. 

I have two songs about songwriting, one funny and one serious. They’re both good options, but I can see myself getting tired of them before the semester is over. 

Finally, I have a song I wrote for my friend who told me about being assaulted. This song is close to my heart, and would be the simplest to produce. 

The biggest choice is probably between my first song (tentatively “Stardust” and the last (which I’m calling “There for You” until I find a better name). The decision will probably come down to whether I want a simpler production with less steps, or a fuller production with some added sounds. 

Today I’ll probably end up researching steps I won’t need until October and socializing with friends to avoid choosing a song.


Tea of the day: 
Earl Grey, a classic. 

The Tea House Trials

The Tea House Trials

I love music. My biggest experience with writing and producing music was a school project with my friend Tyler, but I mostly wrote and sang for this project, and didn’t do much of the mixing and producing.

Recently, I’ve been writing more music in my spare time. I love writing music, because it gives me a way to express and process ideas that are new or interesting to me. But I have no idea how to get this music from the page and a phone recording to a song that I would be happy to share with my friends and family.

This is the point of the Tea House Trials. For the Fall Semester 2018, I’m going to try to get a song from draft to done, using things I can learn online or from friends, and share the story along the way. Maybe it will all end in tears, but at least there will be lots of tea. 

Edith Piaf – Anne’s Earworms Episode 32

I first ran into Edith Piaf at the library in the international music section. I wasn’t expecting great things from the music, I just wanted to hear something different than my normal musical genre. I was shocked.

I started with her beautiful song “La Vie en Rose,” and I was instantly absorbed by her passion she has whenever she sings. She applies a constant energy to her music, whether she’s singing a powerful about having no regrets or a comical song about being haunted by a melody (“Padam, Padam”).
A great place to start is her album Eternelle, although a greatest hits album is also nice. I hope you enjoy a little Edith Piaf as much as I did.

How to Read Books for College

In college, there tends to be a lot of required (or strongly recommended) reading. Whether there are regular reading quizzes, book reviews due, or information for finals, there is always something to read, and being able to do it as efficiently and effectively as possible is important. With that, here are my tips for reading through college-assigned books:

How to Plan for Reading:

Have a plan.

If you have a specific goal and a specific plan to go with it, your process will be far easier than trying to panic-read at the last minute. For example, if you have to read a 10 chapter book and write a 5 page response, and you have 6 weeks, until it’s due, you can break it up this way:

-Week 1. Read first 3 chapters, and make notes.
-Week 2. Read 3 more chapters, and make notes.
-Week 3. Finish book, and make notes on the last few chapters.
-Week 4. Compile your most important thoughts together.
-Week 5. Write your first draft, and get feedback from writing center and/or professor.
-Week 6. Edit and submit.

Compare the above plan to the no-plan version:
-Week 1. Read first chapter.
-Week 2. Do nothing.
-Week 3. Do nothing.
-Week 4. Do nothing.
-Week 5. Realize that the project is due. Do nothing.
-Week 6. Total panic and last minute cramming.

Set a timer.

One of the quickest ways to ruin your reading time is getting distracted. Decide how much time you need to spend on reading, and set a timer for that long. Keep reading until you’re finished, or your timer goes off. During this time, have your phone/social stuff turned off or silenced, and don’t let yourself do anything else. Your focus will be so much stronger, and you’ll find that you get through reading much faster.

Pick some background noise.

If I am in a seperate room from everyone, and just need to filter out weird sounds (say, the dishwasher, distant conversations, tea boiling), I like brown noise or rain sounds. If I’m in the room with other people, I like to do calming music with words to cover the sounds of conversations (typically something by Ella Fitzgerald). You might be different. This is a good time for experimenting. Try some soundtrack music one day, and white noise or something similar the next day. What works best for you? Don’t choose music that you want to start belting whenever you hear it; remember: the point is to be less distracted.

How to Read for Learning:

 

Read with the end in mind.

This will help with the first tip. If you’re writing a review, think about the main points, and whether or not you agree with them. If you’re writing for a test, think about what might me on said test. Also, pay extra attention to sections that relate to parts of lectures. If your professor talks about a specific composer, and your textbook has a section on that same composer, it may be worth a second read-through.

Take notes as you read.

I will use a pencil and underline important quotes, write in questions or one-sentence thoughts, and other pertinent thoughts (thanks to Amy Crider for getting me started on this one!). Then, when I’m looking back at the book later, I can easily find what I want to talk about.

Underline or circle information or points that line up with your goal (see tip one of this section). With books that have exams coming up, for example, underline or circle important names, dates, and ideas, so that you can find it for studying later. This method saves much pain in the future, even if it seems weird at first.

There you have it. Those are my top tips for reading effectively for college. What are your favorite ways to read more effectively? I would love to hear about them in the comments section!

Fly Me to the Moon – Anne’s Earworms Episode 31

I love Tony Bennett’s interpretation of “Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words).” He takes a typically peppy song, and makes it sweet and slow. This reflects the lyrics in a fresh way, transforming the song from the breathless romance in Sinatra’s an Buble’s versions to a soulful serenade. It begins with trepidation, but builds into a passionate plea, maintaining both simplicity and a feeling of completeness.

The orchestra is sparse, complementing Tony’s singing without overpowering it, almost as a duet. It contains a touch of saxophone, and a bit of strings, and a little jazzy piano, each one having a simple, slow part. Tony Bennet takes a typical song and makes it unique, which is truly inspiring for any aspiring cover artist or musician. Enjoy!

Daydream Believer – Anne’s Earworms Episode 30

Thursdays are the longest days. By the time I finish school, my private music lessons, and teaching private lessons, I want nothing more than to go home and sleep. Often, I’m discouraged, and occasionally I’m just hungry.

This Thursday was much the same as many Thursdays. I was tired and ready for home, but the traffic at 5 mostly involved sitting. That’s when I first heard “Daydream Believer.”

The song opens with Davy Jones singing of the troubles of the working person, who must leave fantasies and dreams to go to work. But the songs turns to a celebration of a positive attitude. He chooses to be a daydream believer, who lives life looking forward, rather than dwelling on things that he has to leave or things that he doesn’t have.

This is the way that I want to live. I don’t have to choose between dreaming and living. There are certainly sad things in life, but I don’t want to spend every waking hour dwelling on them and worrying.

Since then, I’ve learned to enjoy the Thursday drive home. Instead of wishing that I was at home, I try to enjoy the time I have sitting. Thursdays are still long, but they don’t have to be discouraging too.