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life lessons

A Call to the Lionhearted

By | Leadership, Music, Theology, Worship Arts | No Comments

BeBrave

A blank page is a beautiful thing, don’t you think?

It’s fresh, opportunistic, and challenging. It’s a space that’s capable of becoming anything.

Okay, maybe a blank page doesn’t always seem so exciting–at least, not to me. But, it’s my suspicion that I’m not alone in ever having felt intimidated by a blank page.

Does a blank page, with its blinking cursor or its empty blue lines, look overwhelming to you?

Does it look like the song that you’ve held in your mind for years but never transcribed? Does it look like the paper that you have to write by tomorrow, but feel incapable of finishing? Does the intimidating blankness look like all the things you’ve wanted to write and accomplish, but have never felt capable enough to complete, or even start?

No ability. No talent. Mediocre.

Perhaps your self-criticism swirls endlessly in your mind, and all the while that cursor blinks at you–no words on its left side, no ideas on its right side.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

Perhaps you echo it with words confirming your self-doubt.

“I can’t.” “I can’t.” “I can’t.”

And perhaps, by simply looking at that blank page, you become increasingly aware that you’re not good enough.

You’re not capable enough.

You are worthless. 

And, isn’t it that continual rejection that we fear? We fear seeing our own inadequacies on paper, in black and white. We sit in that fear, marinate in it, and do anything to escape it, including sliding the mouse to the “X” at the top corner of the page, shutting down the computer program, crumpling up the paper, and avoiding the notion to write anything at all.

Do you want to know something strange? Every successful songwriter, novelist, playwright, or poet that I have ever studied has had trouble writing. But, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it really doesn’t seem strange at all that most writers struggle with writing.

You see, I’ve found that writing is more about courage than ability. You might think that you are incapable of writing that song, lyric, script, or novel.

But I think you’re wrong.

It is my sincere conviction that you do, in fact, have the ability to write–and not just write, but create–beautiful things.

William Wordsworth once said, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

Allow your heart to overflow onto the words of your blank page. They don’t have to be well-constructed words; they must only be authentic words. 

You see, we all have very important stories, memories, and experiences to share–stories that come so naturally to our minds and hearts that they feel as simple as breathing. And this, dear friend, is where you must begin–have the courage to breathe in and breathe out the things of your heart.

One of my favorite moments in the children’s novel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is when Aslan, the mighty and gentle ruler of Narnia says to Susan, “You have listened to fears, child. Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?”

You have listened to fears, child.

Be unafraid. Be vulnerable enough to expose yourself to failure and rejection in the exchange of speaking things that simply must be heard.

And may the things that we speak be uttered in praise to the Lord.

It is time to inhale the breath He has given to you, and let it make you brave, once more.

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
Pour out our praise to You, only

Pick up your guitar.
Place your fingers on the keys.
Put your pen to the paper.

Breathe in, and be brave.

 

– Chelsea

“Great Are You Lord” – All Sons and Daughters
© 2012 Integrity’s Alleluia! Music

Building Blocks

By | Music, Music Education, Music Theory | No Comments

Sweat was gathering on my brow. I was sitting in musicianship class, trying not to look directly at our professor, who had just given me a pitch from a pitch pipe and was waiting for me to begin. All I had to do was sing this sight-singing exercise, but the heat of the moment made it seem so much more difficult. If only I had practiced more last night!

I decided the only thing to do was to give it my best shot, and that’s what I did. It wasn’t stellar, but it wasn’t terrible either. And it was better than last time, which was the important thing. Something I was doing in practice was paying off, even if only a little. Somewhere in those late night sessions of trying to figure out what was going on in this harmonic dictation, or which prepared sight-singing exercises I was going to neglect preparing, or why we had to go this in-depth with musicianship anyway, I was actually learning something.

That something was musicianship skills, and they have showed up in my study of music ever since. As hard as it would have been for me to believe at the time, everything I was doing mattered. Learning to read simple lines with solfege would give me a leg up on learning tough pieces in choir. Reading multiple cleffs and trying to understand harmonic dictations made me more prepared to play hymns in class piano. And learning to practice even when I didn’t want to has made me a more competent musician in every way.

It wasn’t just musicianship, though. My experience in Music Theory classes has helped me, too. Whether analyzing a piece in Music History, or harmonizing a melody, or writing an aural analysis of a piece performed in a recital, a deeper understanding of the basic workings of music has given me the ability to succeed at every point along the way.

While it wasn’t easy, it was worth it. I’m glad I worked through the tough classes in the first two years of my music major. Not only has it given me valuable music skills, it has given me the motivation to work hard in the rest of the hard classes I have yet to take.

~Steve