02 October 2009

Music in the blood...

As the year of my graduation approaches much too quickly to my liking, I've been receiving more and more pressure to decide what I want to do "when I grow up." One evening recently, Dad decided to tell me a little paradox:

"My daughter," he began, "sometimes I really can't understand you. I see you doing these* these musical things, BUT then I see my daughter saying she doesn't want to earn her living through music, that she isn't really that serious about her gift. That she really isn't interested in using it, and that it's more of a personal expression than a serious talent." *'these' has been substituted to protect the author's privacy.

"Dad, I didn't say that! I just said I didn't want to be in a symphony or be the next Itzhak Perlman or Sarah Chang!" I protested.

"It's the same thing! You've got music in your blood, girl, and I don't want to see you go to waste without your music. You always say it's the thing that keeps you sane. I don't want an insane daughter! Make up your mind! It's the personal connection that you make with your instruments that people like about you. Music in the blood never goes away. Don't waste it."

The purpose of that long-winded anecdote is summed up by a phrase : 'music in the blood.' Why are some people talented in arts, whether it is musical, or physical? Is the capacity for producing art born into only a few people, or is it something innate in every person, but only exploited by a few?

I think that God has placed the ability to creatively produce and appreciate art in every person's soul. We are, after all, formed in God's own likeness, and we possess other attributes of God: the ability to think and to reason well, the ability to discover what God has created, to name a few. But then, why do we run across people who "can't sing" or are "no good" at painting?

Maybe the answer to this question comes from the story of talents in the Bible. For those fuzzy on your Bible, a story tells of a land owner, who, going on a trip, divides his wealth (named "talents") among three servants for safe keeping. Two of them worked hard and doubled the amount of money the owner had given them for safety, while the third buried his in the ground so it wouldn't be stolen. When the owner returned, he praised the two who had used their talents and multiplied them, but the owner became angry at the cautious servant who had not done anything with his talent.

Bear in mind that this is pure speculation on my part... I think that God has gifted all of humanity with His likeness. Everyone can reason, everyone can think noble thoughts, and everyone can appreciate music to some degree, even produce it. But God has also given special talents to people, which makes us unique. My brother, for instance, is very gifted in the scientific and mathematical areas, and understanding of those topics comes easily to him. Everywhere you go, you will see people who are gifted in specific areas, and specialize in the areas they're talented in.

But having a specific area of talent does not mean that all focus should be directed to that one area, to the neglect of other gifts. My brother, the scientific mathematician, used to play piano beautifully. He had to work harder at it to get the emotions written into the piece, but he could play. Just because you are talented in one area doesn't mean it is acceptable to ignore other, less talented areas God has given you. A musician should not focus on music to the exclusion of history, mathematics, or other creative areas. Neither should an architect forget his love of music.

This is the problem facing society today: people have ignored the old adage: "Jack of all trades, master of none, but far better than the master of one." Vocations, interests, and talents have all become so specialized that adults spend their lives trapped inside the little boxes of their professions. Outside of their specialty box, people are, or at least feel, clueless. They are 'masters of one', rather than 'Jacks - of - all - trades." God intended humans to use all of their giftings, not just their main talents. By specializing to the exclusion of all things, we have cut ourselves off from what was originally intended.

We still feel the lack of 'well-roundedness,' as evidenced by the way music stirs emotions in even the most logical of men, of the delight a musician feels when discovering the mathematics and logic behind their 'audible emotions.'

All people have music in the blood, but not all choose to acknowledge it. All people have logic, reasoning, curiousity, in their blood, but most choose to bury their talent, to let it rot in the ground, rather than to exploit their talents to the fullest extent. Do not think that your work is less pleasing to God because you are not talented in that area.

As a musician, my conclusion, naturally, is going to be a quote about music: "Music is a fair and glorious gift from God." ~Martin Luther. As is mathematics, science, history, any area of study you can name.


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