Music


Today is the last day of school. There is a part of me that is very excited and relieved, and there is a part of me that is very reflective. This seems to happen almost every year. I wonder if this mixture of emotions happens to other people?

First, the part of me that is excited – I made it through another year, in another new building, with another new principal, with two new grades. Plus, I still have my sanity. I have found a niche teaching elementary music and I love the addition of the older kids. I feel like I connect with the older kids better but I love them all.

Second, the reflective part of me – Part of it is just my personality. I am a bit melancholy. In the past, however, I have always finished the year wondering if that one would be my last. Because of my work with church ministry and my work with teaching I can never decide what I am going to do when I grow up. I have always committed to God that I would be available to do whatever He wanted me to do, whether that was teaching or working with a church full-time.

Thirdly, for the first time in over a dozen years I do not have a summer job – yet. In the past I have worked with band camps or at the church. This summer I am totally free of any of that responsibility. I’m not even taking summer classes. It is a very weird feeling. There’s a part of me that wants to do something else and there’s a part of me that is saying just enjoy the time at home with your family. A refreshing summer might be exactly what I, and my family, need.

When all is said and done the job will sort itself out on its own. What I know for sure is that I have one more day to finish up school.

“Heigh ho, heigh ho, It’s off to work I go, Heigh ho, heigh ho, heigh ho…”

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A teacher shared this letter with me regarding one of her students. The gist of the letter talked about how the student improved in her recorder playing skills this year. Her letter said something like the following… “I put the songs in my head and they came out in my mouth! Thank you Mrs. So-and-so.”

I thought that was the perfect way to put it and got a great laugh out of it. Upon reflecting a bit I realized there was one thing missing – the heart. Music not played from the heart is lifeless, even if it is note-perfect.

That’s the way it is with God’s word too. Yes, memorize it so you can let it come out of your mouth. Share with people and pour into their lives. But don’t leave the heart out of it. That is a dangerous thing.

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You (Psalm 119:11, NKJ).

These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me – referencing Isaiah 29:13 (Matthew 15:8, NKJ).

Singing a song like this only gets better when you get to share it with someone who can sing so well. This is a beautiful song by Natalie Grant. What a joy to be able to sing with this young lady. What a joy to have been her youth pastor for so many years.

As you can see, I taught her everything she knows. The rest is pure God-given talent and training.

For His Great Name and not for our glory!

If you’ve ever had to travel with a young child or baby you know what this post could be all about! If the baby does not travel well no one travels well. We had one of those trips this afternoon. We were visiting family today for a pre-Easter celebration. We decided to go there and back in one day because we have a new baby that is almost 5 months old. She is not used to being in new places overnight and we aren’t either.

Our departure was timed to coincide with our newborn’s nap schedule. Our newborn didn’t agree though. She was overtired and was going to have none of it. About 30 minutes into the trip she started crying something terrible! Nothing we were doing was helping. All seemed hopeless. Then in a blast of brilliance I asked my oldest daughter, six years old, to start singing to her sister.

The result was nothing short of amazing!!!

Within minutes our baby started to calm down and even doze off. After 15 minutes of calm family singing she was sound asleep and stayed that way until we arrived home.

Music has a special impact on people in so many different ways. It is influential physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and academically. Today was no different. It calmed our youngest daughter physically. It kept us from going bonkers mentally. It was emotionally soothing and brought joy to my oldest to help like that. It was an answer to prayer (I know that analogy is a stretch but it’s true!). And finally, I taught my oldest daughter a few new songs in the process (that’s the academic part).

Music does something for the human soul that few other elements can. Thank God for music!

Over on the right hand side you will find a few more short songs that I’ve uploaded. One is a greeting song my oldest daughter created for my music classes (mistakes and all). The second one is a song that my oldest has been singing to my youngest even when she (the youngest) was in utero. To this day it has a calming effect on her.

I hope to be uploading a few more shortly. We love to sing and make up songs.

Some time ago I began memorizing Psalm 34:1-3.  For the life of me I can’t remember why I started memorizing it.  At the beginning I remember thinking that, on the surface, this verse was lacking in practical application (can I say that?).  However, as this verse has sunk in the meaning of it has been very valuable to me, especially as a worship leader.

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together (Psalm 34:1-3, ESV).

  1. The psalmist starts off with a singular expression of praise: “I” will bless the Lord & “my” mouth.
  2. It then includes the “humble” who will join him in their rejoicing.
  3. These three verses culminate with the psalmist exhorting other to join in magnifying and exalting the Lord’s name together.

Maybe I’m reading more into it that I should but I see the progression from individual to larger group and it seems to reflect my experience leading praise and adoration as well.  The leaders come in prepared – or at least they should.  A small number of others will initially join, followed by an invitation for others to join in as well.

I pray that we would make the most of every opportunity to “magnify the Lord” and “exalt His name together.”

About a month ago I was asked by another youth leader how to prepare students to lead “worship.”  This youth leader was very concerned about the lack of consideration and depth in the song selection.  This is a great question that plagues many youth groups.

In response to that question, here are a few initial thoughts to help song leaders think through their song selections. This does not guarantee quality musicianship. Actually, it doesn’t guarantee anything! However, it should encourage thoughtful reflection.

Let me know what you think and if things should be tweaked.

  1. What are your songs?
  2. Why did you choose these songs?
  3. Summarize each song in a sentence.
  4. How are these songs fit together (key, tempo, flow, topic, other)?
  5. What would be a key verse to support this song?

To be sure, the last one will be a bit more of a challenge. Maybe it shouldn’t be in this list of questions.  I’m concerned because this question, #5, could also lend itself to some prooftexting and improper use of Scripture.  It will, however, encourage some thinking!

Overall, I think the best way to equip someone is to have them mentored by another worship leader so that the process can be caught as they spend time together preparing things.  It is definitely a trial and error experience.  They will need someone to talk them through what’s going on, to answer questions, to encourage them when things go well (and when they don’t).  Most importantly, it will be helpful to have another mature believer (hopefully) with common interests to share life with.

What do you do to prepare your student leaders?

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