It’s a new year. It’s a new season. It’s a new determination to write on this blog instead of letting it sit like the Moleskine in my bookshelf.
The School of Worship lecture phase is over. The Worship Track has started. We no longer have speakers coming in every week. The schedule isn’t so packed. The students are more free to choose what they will do with their time. I have more responsibility.
My staff role in our track is to build up our musicians. I’m teaching music theory, piano lessons, and guitar lessons. I have books, I’ve made a curriculum. I have goals. I’m even writing tests for the students to take. It’s almost like a legitimate school class.
But the surface level doesn’t have the most weight in my heart. I keep asking the question “why am I here?” I keep checking in with God and making sure I know what I’m doing. Especially when my duty is so practical and surface level. Musicianship doesn’t necessarily mean heart change. How does music theory relate to loving the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?
I always let life go back to the greatest commandment. If Jesus said that loving God is the most important thing, then I’ll say it too. So I’ll just share here where I’m at with music theory.
I like painting illustrations because I like paintings. I’ll use painting as an example. Say, for example, that for my friend Trevor’s birthday I decide that it would be great to paint an amazing portrait of him with huge muscles fighting off a horde of mutant polar bears with a lightsaber to protect his family (let’s all just agree that it would be awesome). Unfortunately, if I tried to do that in real life, it would just be a bunch of stick figures because I can’t paint. I’ve never practiced. I don’t have any canvas, paints, or brushes with which to do that. So how in the world would I pull something like that off? No matter how much I would want to do something like that, I just couldn’t do it.
Music theory is useful because in our relationship with God, sometimes it’s nice to express ourselves to God with music. We need to tell him how we feel, whether good or bad. We need to cast our cares on him. For me, and for most musical types, most of the time it’s nice to express ourselves with music. This is how I live my whole life. I prefer to play songs for people rather than tell them stories. I prefer to write songs rather than write in my journal. But how would I tell God how I feel with music if I never learned how? How would I make music that expresses joy? How would I make music that expresses sadness?
It’s the same answer as the painting. I couldn’t. Except that I actually can. Because I’ve learned, studied, and practiced. I can express myself to God. I can play sad music. I can play happy music.
As a music theory teacher, I aim to release people to be honest with God. This is even one of my goals as a worship leader. You can’t love God with everything if you can’t be honest with Him.