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.
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.