Every person must decide what to do with their life, their priorities, their career, and their life’s pursuit. Early on I decided to devote my life to the study of music. Although the power of music to touch the emotions is well-known, musicians themselves are often branded as “starving artists” because a life in music does not tend to become a wildly lucrative career compared with other fields. Even without a promise of fame or riches, many people are drawn to study music and become professional musicians. So what is my reason for choosing music? Read on as I explain in my Artist’s Statement.
The enjoyment of music making was not reason enough for me to dedicate my life to studying it. My own pursuit of excellence in music is inspired by the Psalms.
Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
Psalm 33:1-3 (ESV) (Italics added)
Two things inspire me in this passage. First, I want to reach that lofty ideal to “play skillfully on the strings.” That is a lifelong pursuit for any musician, and as a teacher I am privileged to help others increase their skill as well. Perfection is an unattainable ideal, but skill can be nurtured and promoted so that it develops and grows throughout life. A famous story of the cellist Pablo Casals summarizes why we practice. The aged maestro was asked at somewhere between the age of 67-90 years old why he still practiced. His answer was, “Because I think I am making progress.”
However skillful our performance may be, our music making must have the end goal of communication. The passage above mentions two things we can communicate, namely joy and thanks. In order to be joyful and thankful, we must have both a reason for our joy and an object for our thanks. My joy stems from many things, including the wonderful relationships in my life. I am beyond thankful for the many people who have made an impact in my life – the performers who inspired me, the teachers who guided me, the peers who encouraged me. The list could go on and on, but ultimately my thanks is to God for His gift of music.
Music is not the only gift God has given us. Far from it! He has given us a much more costly gift, a priceless gift, namely His own Son. Watch the video to learn the true story of God’s love summed up in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (ESV)