Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On Being a Band Geek in a Christian School

Tonight marked the spring concert at my kids' school--always a crazy time for my family, since my husband teaches k-12 music at the school, which includes general music classes, elementary chorus, middle school chorus, and high school chorus, and my sister is the band director at the school as well. The only program we have at our little Christian school that someone related to me doesn't run is the string program, but I have a child in that, too, so that program adds to our familial hubbub in its own way.

Some people might think we're crazy to perpetuate such seasons of insanity in our lives, but honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. I was a band geek to rule all band geeks during my educational years (as well as a choir member, though band was a more deeply-ingrained part of my being, I have to say), and when we decided to send our kids to Christian school rather that home school them, I was a deeply disturbed that my eldest (a french horn player) was going to have to leave behind a strong instrumental program we were utilizing through our local school system as home schooled participants. After all, small Christian schools, while excellent in many ways, rarely have much in the way of an instrumental program, and our school was no exception.

Well, some circumstances changed at the beginning of this school year, and now the school has a beginning concert band program, about which I am ecstatic. Sure, the concert had the sound of a beginner ensemble, but the performance perfection isn't the point. We have a Christian school where the ensemble is playing band arrangements of hymns and other spiritual songs. Children are learning proficiency with instruments like never before.

Why is this important to Christians specifically? Because God wants us to participate in worship, and worship very often involves music. While I believe each of us has a place where music resonates in our souls, it is not something anyone just does (at least not well) without training. Becoming a musician is a lifelong pursuit, one that is best begun during childhood when the brain is still forming synapses between the hemispheres needed to understand, execute, and express music. For children to go through a Christian education and lack the pursuit of musical skill and literacy, in my mind, eliminates the pursuit of a major part of worship for these members of the body of Christ. While I truly believe God loves anything offer to him in a heartfelt way, I believe he also calls us to excellence. One note at a time, one concert at a time, one building year at a time, I believe being band geeks equips young believers to lead others around them into worship abandoned to the grandeur of music that is just a pale reflection of the impossible beauty and complexity of God.

I did not understand this worship component of music when I was a student musician--all I knew is that music and its performance stirred something inside me that gave me goosebumps like nothing else can. How thankful I am that my children have the opportunity to put that feeling of awe and wonder into context, and to hopefully someday use the skills they gain as musicians to share that feeling, rooted in divine meaning, with others.

So play on, children of the Most High, play on.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Latest on the Art Side

Lately, I've been in the mode of producing art work for several projects while I wait for the copyedit back of Curse Bearer, my novel set to release from Other Sheep (an imprint of Written World Communications) this summer. What sorts of projects have I been working on?

Well, related to Curse Bearer, I have been noodling some ideas for chapter heading art, which I'm thinking might take the form of three symbols represented in the book. You see, Curse Bearer is a book that will function in three parts.

Part one of the book deals with Danae Baledric's conflicts in her home city of Dayelston, where an occupying army has a choke hold on the natives. For this section of the book, I'm thinking it would be appropriate for the header image to be that of the occupying Theocracy. The symbol? The gargoyle of Queldurik.

The conflicts and issues in Part I drive Danae from her homeland, and it is within this section of the story she learns some unsettling truths about what's really going on in the dark undercurrent of her life. Such knowledge comes at the hands of a stranger and sage, and his symbol is a phoenix wreathed in flame. Hence, I foresee perhaps something of this nature appearing in the headers for the Part II chapters.

Part III of the book carries Danae to a place where she needs to face the issues she's created in Part I, as well as come to terms with the truth she's learned in Part II. Despite the seemingly insurmountable nature of her cricumstances, Danae learns that she does have the hope of a compass in her increasingly large and challenging world. Therefore, I have chosen the symbol embossed on a book she receives as the potential icon for the third section.

It's my hope that these images will not necessarily demand too much attention on their own, but that when readers see how they tie into the greater tale, that it will add another layer of worldbuilding and interest to the story. We shall see if I succeed, but for now, these works in progress await the final touches that would make them header-ready.

I am greatly looking forward to the coming release of Curse Bearer (formerly titled Sword of the Patron.) I will keep the updates coming when I have them. But for now, I was pretty staggered just how close July really is!