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.

The Top Three from Air for Three – Anne’s Earworms Episode 21

Relient K’s latest album Air for Free has been my online classes jam for the past week or so. These are the songs I would recommend if you listen to nothing else from the album. Here are my top 3 from Air for Free:


Local Construction

I love this song because the analogy is so cool. It compares life to local construction: always working but never finishing. Local Construction helps me to process this feeling better than I did before, and to move past it. The music is awesome, and it builds slowly, giving a mental picture of construction.


This song is just fun. I dance to this song when I’m trying wake myself up in the morning, or in between long study sessions. Listen with caution: it will get stuck in your head for days.


This song is sad but hopeful. The attractive part of this song is the instrumentation. It matches the lyrics beautifully (a common trait in Air for Free), and it’s addicting.

I hope that you enjoyed this list! If you love these songs as much I do, you can check out the album on Amazon here.

Bonus: Here’s an acoustic version of Heartache that Relient K did for CCM Magazine.

Schindler’s List – Anne’s Earworms Episode 17

The movie Schindler’s List is about Oskar Schindler, a Nazi. The movie has a fascinating story that makes it worth watching, but I knew the soundtrack even before I saw the film.

The Schindler’s List soundtrack is a masterful exploration of sorrow and hope. The first time I heard it, I cried because of the beauty contained in the main theme. The whole soundtrack is worth listening through, but if you only have a few minutes, I recommend the theme.


Encore by Barbra Streisand- Anne’s Earworms Episode 5

Encore: Movie Actors Sing Broadway is one of the first albums that I counted down the days until it was released. I’ve been a Barbra Streisand fan since I saw Hello, Dolly! a few years ago. When I saw that she was still producing music (at age 74), I was ecstatic. I talked about the album to every friend I had. I talked about the songs that they released before the album. I talked about the videos in which they talked about the songs.

The biggest appeal of Barbra’s music is her voice. Even though she’s been singing for years (She started recording music at age 13), her voice is stunning. She sounds consistent from the bottom of her range to the top of it, instead of being throaty and breathy depending on how high she’s singing. Encore is an album of duets and one trio.

My favorite song from this album is “Loving You,” a duet with Patrick Wilson. Patrick is a former broadway singer, so he also has a soaring, classical voice. Their voices blend beautifully, and the song soars.

Another great song is “At the Ballet.” This is the trio from the album, with Daisy Ridley and Anne Hathaway. This was the first song I heard from the album, and it hooked me for the rest of the album. I loved Anne Hathaway’s singing in Les Misérables, and I was excited to learn about Daisy Ridley. The song tells several exciting stories, and the harmony is amazing.


The only song I wouldn’t recommend from the album is The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened to Me, because of some foul language.

Encore was a huge inspiration for me as I started singing more, and it’s one of my favorite albums.


If you’re interested in hearing Encore on Amazon, click here.

January Goals

The semester has started! I’m so excited, and I hoping that I’ll be able to keep up with my challenges and my school assignments. Here’s how I’ve been doing so far:

Reading Challenge:

I’ve read three books so far (I’m reading my fourth one now). I’m trying to read one book each week, so that I have room to be flexible.

My first book was The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis. This was from the category “A book you loved as a child.” C. S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors, and this book did not disappoint me. Lewis writes in a way that is engaging and comfortable.

My second book was The Inferno, by Dante Alighieri. This is the book that’s been on my “TBR” list for too long. It inspired many Facebook posts of horror. The boiling in blood chapter was disturbing. Over all, I enjoyed reading the book, but probably won’t read it again. Here’s my favorite quote from the book:

“For such defects are we lost, thought spared the fire
and suffering Hell in one affliction only:
that without hope we live on in desire.”

My third book was The Undoing of Saint Silvanus, by Beth Moore. This book falls in the category of “written by someone you admire.” This book was outstanding. It had a little mystery, a little drama, and a little romance. It was fun to read.

Right now I’m in the middle of a book about Amelia Earhart, in the category: “an interesting woman.” Amelia Earhart was very interesting, but the book is not so far, so I’m not going to share it here.

I’m going to start the book Present Over Perfect next. My mom bought the book for me, and I’m excited about reading it. Here is her review of the book.

Writing Challenge:

I’ve completed this challenge every day except for one so far. Some days I work on blog posts or school assignments, and some days I journal. It’s been really cool to record some thoughts that I have, because it helps me think about them more clearly, and keep them for later.

Anne’s Earworms:

These have been fun to write so far. I wrote about some older artists, and some new artists, and made a spring semester playlist for fun. My only concern is that I’ll run out of music that I can write about before I run out of weeks. Because of this, I am being pushed to find new music that I love, which was one of the reasons I started writing them.

Bible Challenge:

I have successfully read through 92 chapters of the Bible, without having to have any make-up days. The thing that has helped me the most is getting up earlier. I was getting up around 8 every day, but this month I decided to try to get up at 6:45 every day (except Saturdays) to do some Bible reading and studying, and work on my other goals. At first this was really hard (it was actually really hard for the first three weeks), but I was able to complete my Bible reading earlier in the day.


Audible has been wonderful so far. I read The Silver Chair as my first audiobook, and I loved it. I was able to cook and clean and such while enjoying one of my favorite books. Since I loved The Silver Chair so much, and our family had a couple of extra Audible credits, so I read The Undoing of Saint Silvanus on Audible also.

So there’s my summary of January. I did pretty well on all of my goals, so I’m hoping that I can continue my momentum during February.


Also, here’s my sister Christina’s Reading Challenge she’s doing this year:

My Spring Semester Playlist- Anne’s Earworms Episode 4

Since I just started the Spring Semester at Boyce, I thought it would be fun to make a playlist of some songs that I’m enjoying right now, so I can compare my playlist now with my playlist at the end of the semester. So without further ado, here is my Spring Semester Playlist for 2017.

Manic Monday, by Relient K.

This song was originally a Bangles song, but I love the Relient K version. Even though Mondays are awesome, I like listening to this song because it’s fun and catchy.

Before You I Kneel (A Worker’s Prayer), by Keith and Kristen Getty.

This song helps me to have the right attitude about my work, and in some characteristics that I’m trying to build.

Arrival of the Birds, by the Cinematic Orchestra.

Since I’m playing in two orchestras this semester, of course I have to listen to some movie soundtracks. This has been one of my favorites for a while.

Scarlatti: Sonata in B minor – Allegro – L. 449 K. 27, played by Elizabeth Arenas

This is my current piano piece, so I’m listening to it a lot. I love how it’s minor, but still has a lot energy.

9 to 5, by Ali Caldwell.

This is a great cover, and is awesome for riding in the car.

Heart and Soul by Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Feat. Lisa Fischer and Gregory Porter.

I’ve been listening to Yo-Yo Ma’s Unaccompanied Cello for a while, but I’m new to his collaborations. This has been my favorite so far.

The Perfect Wisdom of Our God, by Keith and Kristen Getty.

I haven’t listened to this song since last year, but I would love to listen to it more this semester. It helps me to remember how wondrous God is, and promotes thankfulness.

Songbird, by Fleetwood Mac.

My voice teacher recommended this song to me while ago, but I forgot to look it up until this week. It’s a lovely rainy day song.

Our Love is Here to Stay, by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

Ella and Louis never get old.

Mary’s Song (Oh My My My), by Taylor Swift.

I like this song because it’s cute, and it has a happy ending.

Except for Monday, by Lorrie Morgan.

I’ve been listening to this song as long as I can remember. I enjoy it because it’s clever and fun.

So there you go, my Spring Semester Playlist. What songs are you enjoying right now?

I put the full playlist on YouTube here.

Long Drive, by Jordan Taylor- Anne’s Earworms Episode 3

Long Drive is Jordan Taylor’s debut album, released in 2015. Even though I was already a Blimey Cow fan (Jordan is part of the Blimey Cow crew), I didn’t listen to the album until last fall. At first, I wasn’t sure whether I liked the album or not. It’s not my usual choice for music, but the more I listened to the album, the more I loved it.

When I was listening to Long Drive this week, trying to decide whether to make it into an Earworm, I realized how young it is. For a long time, I’ve always tried to be older. I started taking college classes at 14, and I expected myself to act like a normal college student. When I hang around adults, I try to be an adult. Long Drive gave me a fresh reminder that being young can be good. I don’t need to try to be older.

Not only does Long Drive help me be young, it helps me be positive. When I listen to the song “This Moment,” I simply feel happy to be alive. This is a feeling that I sometimes forget about. I tend to be a melancholy person, but sometimes I confuse melancholy with depressed. Long Drive is calm and thoughtful, and some of the songs are sad, but it’s not a “let-me-cry-a-river-before-this-next-song” kind of album. It helps me to remember that being thoughtful is not always the same as being sad.

This album helps me embrace who I am. I believe that God designed each person with a different personality, and that we should use how we are built to glorify Him. We should be fighting sin, not personality. I should be fighting grouchiness and unfriendliness, not introversion. I should be fighting depression and being self-centered, not melancholy. Long Drive helps me to remember that.

A Note to My Readers

Dear blog buddies,

It’s been a year since my first post, an open letter. This blog started as an outlet for my desire to write more. I had just finished ENG101 and 102 for college, and I wanted to try something new. The experiment has helped me with consistently, willingness to try new things, and my writing ability. But I have a few confessions to make to you:
I’m not totally honest with you. I try to be transparent, but I can’t write about everything. If I decide to write about my musical anxiety, I’m not writing about a terrible day that I had the day after writing it. If I write about the MBTI, I’m not writing about my fight with my sibling, or about my lunch, or about my sleeping goal for January. I have to choose what I think will be interesting, or encouraging, or helpful (or all three).
 Even after I choose a topic, I don’t know how to stop editing and push the “publish” button. I get frustrated because my posts “have room for improvement.” Michael Hyatt helped me think about this better:
“Anyone who knows me knows that excellence is a high value for me. But it’s not the same thing as perfection.
Perfection doesn’t take into consideration of the cost, time, or significance of something. It’s just an illusive, unreal, unattainable goal. It’s better to do good work really well.
That way you’re contributing to people’s lives, instead of locked in your own head about whether your work measures up an impossible standard.”
I want to write well, but sometimes I get paralyzed by my perfectionism. I care more about what you think about my writing than whether I can encourage you or help you learn something new.
Sometimes I don’t even treat you like people. After I post, I get stressed by how many people look at my posts, and I forget how amazing it is that people even look at my posts at all. I’m afraid to do this, because people are scarier than numbers. I’m afraid that you will hate my post or laugh at me, so I try to pretend that “visitors” don’t really mean people. I need to be reminded often that people are more important than numbers, and I shouldn’t let my fear hold me back from connecting with some amazing people.

Thank you so much for bearing with and encouraging me, even though I’m quirky and flawed. I’m a work in progress, and blogging this last year has helped me through a lot of hard things. It’s amazing that you guys take time out of your lives to look at my thoughts about life. I hope that I’ll continue to improve, and that you’ll stick around for the ride, because you’ve made blogging a wonderful experience for me.  


With exceeding joy,
Anne Mary

Tenderly- Anne’s Earworms Episode 2

I was just starting to listen to more jazz/swing music. I was already an Ella Fitzgerald fan, and I heard about the song “Our Love is Here to Stay.” I looked it up, and found Ella’s duet with Louis Armstrong. Ella’s voice has that warm quality that makes you want to follow her around listening to her sing, and yet it’s pure. Her voice sounds polished and flawless, and contrasts beautifully with Louis’s rough voice. When I heard their harmony for the first time “Our Love is Here to Stay,” I practically swooned. I promptly sent it to my music buddies, and then listened to it many more times. After that, I downloaded their album Tenderly.

One of the attractive parts of the album is their energy together. Ella and Louis don’t sound like they are forcing chemistry or are bored; they sound like old friends enjoying jazz together. Even the song “Can’t We Be Friends,” which is about two people stuck in the friend-zone, has so much energy that I wanted to hear it repeatedly.

They have energy, and the songs are groovy.  I love sitting and listening to this album, but it was made for moving. As I’m writing at our kitchen table, I can’t stop myself from dancing a bit.

Their duets are beautiful, but Louis does not sing on every song in the album. Ella sings “Stormy Weather,” “Paper Moon,” and “I Love Paris”-which my younger sister thought was “I Love Parents”- as solos. My favorite Ella solo is Paper Moon. I learned this one on the piano, and have played it ever since (I found the album in the fall). Listening to this song makes me feel young and carefree.

Before I heard Tenderly, I thought of jazz as either too hard for me to play (like some of Fred Astaire’s brilliant pieces), or cluttered and obnoxious (like some modern “jazz” artists). I found in Tenderly music that is both playable and pleasant, and I was inspired. I’m sill not a jazz pianist, but Ella and Louis gave me the inspiration to try it.


If you’re interested in hearing Tenderly on Amazon, go here.

On Worrying Well

I’m older now. It’s a new year, and soon to be a new semester. I’m getting older, driving, and taking almost a full-time college load. There are a lot of great things about my life right now: I have great friends, great classes and teachers, and lots of music to fill my time. I used to worry about my life, but I’m starting to realize that my fears were a bit small-sighted.
I used to worry about my grades at school. I was young to be taking college classes (14), and I thought I might be too young. What if I failed the class? What if the professor hated me because I took his class and failed?
I used to worry about never having friends. I was afraid to talk to new people, because I thought they would reject me because I was awkward. What if I never got the hang of meeting new people?
I used to be worried about how my music sounded when I finished it. I didn’t like the sound of my voice, and I assumed no one else did either. I thought that my piano playing was amateur, and that everyone else hated it. What if my barely new friends decided I was a failure and abandoned me?

I’m older now, and I understand that those fears were small. I’ve done fine in my college classes. I’m starting to more easily talk to new friends, and I realize that my music doesn’t sound bad (sometimes it even sounds good). I was worrying about the wrong things. Maybe I should re-frame my thoughts.
I get good grades at college, but what if I picked the wrong college? My friends are probably judging me for having a lesser college.
I know that I can make friends, but can I keep them? I’m afraid of being too clingy, or scaring them away, so I try to maintain a strong distance from my friends, and never talk to them about my problems. I will post online about my fears, but I don’t talk to my best friend about them.
My friends like my finished music, but what about the process? I’m was super embarrassed when my friend walked in the house in the morning to hang out, because I was warming up. I could just feeling him judging me: “you sound terrible before 10am”.

Earlier this week I started to think: Since my worries before weren’t as bad as I though they were, what if my fears now aren’t as bad as I think they are? What if my friends don’t hate me, or judge me? I should think about this more, but I’m just too busy. I’m older now, and I have more important things to think about, like how to practice music and singing at school without anyone hearing me.