DIRECTING THE CHOIR
So CENTRAL CHRISTIAN enters a new chapter, with our new Director of Music, John Huntoon, and Pianist/Organist, Mike Meadows.
I have been singing in a church choir, or playing the piano, or acting in church for as long as I have memories. Some churches were so small that instead of a “singing Christmas Tree” we only had a “Singing Christmas Swag”…and some churches were so big that Christmas productions would last for several performances for several thousand people.
In any situation, as a Believer & Follower, and musician, it’s good for me to step back and remember that music can be a gift, but it is always a craft. It is a craft that requires several levels of learning and, most of all, constant practice.
There is of course the learning of the notes: making sure the notes being played or sung (as far as tones & melody) correspond exactly to the notes written on the page. Once those are in place it is time to look at “how” the notes are played or sung: loud, soft, slow, fast, etc. Once that is done then it is a matter to detail out the song in full, making sure that we are not ONLY singing or playing the correct notes at the correct time and with the correct dynamic range, but that we are communicating the mood and message of the song. All of this learning is under the direction of a trained ear and trained teacher of music…like the great director at my own church. It is HIS job to listen to ALL of us together and thus determine exactly what type of practice is required at what time; to make sure that the performance is as musical, as communicative and as precise as possible. We don’t start the first rehearsal knowing everything or giving a perfect performance, it takes time, energy, heart & soul. It takes practice. We don’t start making music well simply because we are labeled as members of the choir or handbell choir.
God, our Father, has called us and brought us to a place where we are His children. We are His children because He calls us His children. We are the sheep of the flock that His Son leads. But becoming who we are, and living like the people He says we are takes time, energy, heart & soul. It takes practice. A common mistake for a Believer & Follower of God is to believe that once the choice has been made to be a Believer & Follower, there is nothing more to be done.
In a way, I suppose, that is true; if God says something is so, then it is so. But for us, being named by God is not the end, it is only the beginning of the life-journey. We realize what it means to truly be a member of the Handbell Choir when our individual notes not only fall into place with the other members so that together we play beautiful music, but also when we begin breathing together and thinking together; when we race together and when we rest together.
After much practice we can sing together without need to concentrate so much on the notes, and our parts…and we start thinking on the true message and the true music. At that point we begin to understand what it means to truly carry the label, “member of the choir”. And when we walk with God, together with those around us who also believe and follow, not looking at our feet and path as much as looking up and seeing those around us, enjoying the view, and listening intently to the One who leads us. When we trust the Voice we truly understand what it means to BE a Child of God.
It is up to the Director (with a capital “D”) to listen and watch US, determining what type of practice would best lead us to that place. And it takes patient practice to become that disciple with a depth of faith to experience the indescribable peace of the believer. It doesn’t happen at once. The notes have to be learned first, then the appropriate dynamic. Then the detail touches…even then, one can’t take their eyes off of the Director/Father…for He alone is in charge of the performance.
Practice, be willing to fail, be willing to accept the failure of others, go back and do it again. Get the “notes” into your voice before moving on to something else. The message of the music is what’s important to those watching your every move and listening to the song you sing.