I play my violin in our city’s symphony orchestra.
This year is my eleventh season with the Symphony.
Over the years, as I have played, many pictures and ideas have shaped my perspective. Tuning – One of my very favorite sounds is the sound of an orchestra tuning before a concert. There is an order in it. The oboe gives the correct, in-tune note. (Orchestras tune to an A. But not only is it an A, it is a specific tone of the A note called an A440.) The woodwind instruments tune, then all the brass instruments tune, and then all the strings, with everyone matching the note as accurately as possible. Tuning is extremely important. It doesn’t matter how well you know the music, how beautiful your tone is, how together you are with everyone else – if your instrument is out of tune, your music will sound bad. Often, in my family’s prayer times we pray that we will be “in tune” with the Holy Spirit. We want to match with accuracy what God is doing. We want to hear what He is saying. We want to be moved by Him in our words and actions. It’s important to be “in tune”; to match the truth of His standards…His “A440”.
One of the most important parts of playing in an orchestra is to watch the conductor…and not only to carefully watch, but to follow him. This can be difficult because it means that you have to know the music well enough to be able to look up, away from your music, and follow the conductor. If you get bogged down in the notes, you will miss the direction he gives. The conductor directs the beginning and the end of the piece. He shows the dynamics, the volume changes, as they come. He keeps everyone steady and together by marking the timing of the music. He directs any tempo (speed) changes that are part of the piece. He helps each player, or section of players know when to come in for their separate parts, or to clearly mark when they have rests.
It is important to trust the conductor and follow him. We are blessed to have The Conductor as our director for our lives. I think one of the most important things we can do in this Symphony of Life is to keep our eyes on our Conductor. If we get bogged down in the details of our lives and forget to look at Him, we will miss important direction. He will communicate the specific details to each of us. He marks for us the timing, and communicates the specifics. It is important to follow, and trust His leading. In my orchestra, there have been times (usually at the dress rehearsal, right before the concert) when our director stops us, and says, “I don’t feel like I’m communicating this correctly to you”, (which is his nice way of saying, “You’re not getting it.”) He then goes on to explain more about the music, or what the composer was going through at the time when the music was written, or other details about the music. It always amazes me, after he takes the time for the extra communication, how different, and better, and more filled with feeling, the music is. I think, when things in life are feeling like they aren’t coming together just right, if we would take the time to listen, and let Him say, “Let Me give you more information about this situation”, we would find how different and better our “music” would be. One of the things that blesses me the most as I play is to see the timing of the music. I don’t mean the counting of the beats, but instead, who plays what when. I play in the first violin section. We often have the melody. But sometimes, other instruments have the melody and we have the harmony.
Sometimes we don’t play at all. We have rests. When you hear an orchestra play a symphony, there is a beautiful weaving of melody and harmony. Sometimes the music is delicate, with only a few instruments playing, and sometimes it’s an incredible, indescribable, full sound with more than one hundred instruments playing together. Sometimes every instrument is playing the exact same note, and sometimes you have thick intricate chords with many different notes. In life we also have our “timing”. Sometimes I might play a melody. Most likely, and more often, I will play a harmony. And sometimes, I am directed a rest. But my music has been carefully written by the Master Composer and when I follow it, it makes something beautiful. It’s important too, to follow my music to the exact note and detail, because while I’m playing my music, you are also playing your music, and when followed correctly, it all fits together to make an incredible sound…something so beautiful that words cannot describe it. Speaking of rests…I once heard of an interview with a young violinist who came to the States to study with a famous teacher. The violinist was asked, “When you first played for this great teacher, what was the first thing he told you?” The student replied, “He told me that I needed to fix the rests. He said, “Beethoven wrote some beautiful rests in this piece, and you’re not playing them correctly!” When I first heard this story, I laughed. I had never thought of rests as “beautiful” or of “playing” them. Rests were simply times to stop playing. Often, in my own life, I have felt like I am in a “rest”. Sometimes it’s not enjoyable to sit and listen to others all around me get to play wonderful melodies. In those times I need to remember that not only is my music composed by my loving and faithful Conductor, written just for me, with my best, and the best of all those around me at His heart, but also that rests can, and should, be beautiful. I need to trust my Composer/Conductor, and make sure that I leave the composing and conducting in His hands. Scripture describes us as a Body – with all the parts working together. Romans 12:16 says, “Live in harmony with one another.” (New International Version) When we follow the music written for us by our Composer, and live in harmony with our families, and fellow believers, we are living a beautiful piece of music.
Another idea that has struck me as I play is this –
As a musician, I need to follow the written music in front of me on the music stand. I also need to follow the current and constant direction of the conductor. As believers, we also have the written instructions, and the direction of our Father, and need to follow both. Many times, the music we play is hundreds of years old, composed back in the days of Bach and Mozart. It doesn’t matter how old it is. It is our responsibility to play it exactly as it’s written.
As believers, we have the responsibility to follow our written Word. It doesn’t matter that it’s very old. As soon as someone starts to change or adjust it, the purity and the quality are lost. Sometimes during a rehearsal or a concert I am able to distance myself from my notes just enough to be able to realize what is going on all around me. In a small ensemble, or group, or with a full orchestra, it can be pure joy to hear and experience the beauty around me. It also fills me with joy to know that in this whole complete sound, there is my one small voice that joins with all the others and adds to it. Everyone knows his or her part, everyone is watching the conductor. Everyone is playing together, responding, and matching each other, even breathing together. It’s a body, a whole, made up of many parts. I love when this happens. Ephesians 4:15-16 beautifully summarizes this idea. “But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the Head, even the Messiah, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” “I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music.” J. S. Bach
Megan Miller is 29 years old and is a “daughter-keeper-at-home”. She loves music, animals, spending time in Israel, and being with her family.