I teach piano. Although most of my students attend some kind of church, most of them have little to no interest in learning the music of their faith or even see themselves playing for church. Although I don't mind, not all of us are meant for church playing, I can't help but remember how playing for the church was the only reason, the one thing, that made me want to learn to play piano. My family saw no separation between what I played, including my ability to play, and the One for whom I played. I never knew who ACDC was until I was in high school. My days were filled with bible songs and going to singings. My heroes were Debbie Van Huis of the Twin City Singers who could sing and play on an electric piano! It was a red head named Katherine at Davis Crossing Baptist Church who could play by ear and read music with fingers as quick as lightening, never missing a beat as she yelled the key to the guitar players who scrambled to keep pace. It was my Aunt Doris and Cousin Tammy, self-taught, who showed me how to transpose keys if a song was too high. These were my heroes and the only job description I wanted was the one that said "pianist" in the church bulletin.
This week I asked a student if there was a worship song she might like to learn. She said "Revelation Song" by Kari Jobe was on her ipod. She was hesitant because she knew some of those songs can be hard for her level. She's a sixth grader. I told her I had recently come to find more places to find music and I would look for a good arrangement. I found a fantastic, simplistic, arrangement on Lifeway Worship for $1.49 and I grabbed it. Well, it was actually free because for following them on twitter I received two free downloads. Nice. I printed the piece and sent her home to go for it.
She came back to the next lesson with the entire song in nice sheet protectors and a new worship binder. She had learned the piece and kind of blew me away. While listening to her, I started crying! I was almost embarrassed. I mean, I was so caught off guard by the tears and my own reaction.
I have played for every religion you can name at least once and I can tell you with certainty that liturgical/church/worship musicians are becoming fewer and far between. Even more, truly qualified musicians, you know the ones that can actually read music, know their theory, and can sight-read, are even harder to find. My colleagues and I scramble to fill in for one another on a Sunday just so we can have a break. I'm sure you have heard that churches are in decline? Well, the musicians of those churches are in a worse dilemma.
With this new found revelation, no pun intended, I am seeking God that those children, teens, and adults who feel the call of God will pursue it. I pray they will look away from the American Idols and look to the God of the Universe. I pray they will want to play the music the feeds their soul in the most genuine, lasting way. I feel God leading me strongly in this area as now I'm ready to give back what was given to me by Kathrine, Debbie, and my family - the love of the music of God.
My adult students have said sometimes they were too upset about something to practice. I tell them, "Give me a hymn and I'll sing and play in the middle of many tears, allowing those waters of music filled with praises to soothe my soul." Guess what? It really does. Music is a blessing to be shared.