Summary: Discipleship principles gleaned from my years of participation in band.
Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD (Psalm 150:1-6).
MUSIC CLASS WAS REQUIRED when I was in grammar school. Like countless of pilgrims before me, I was introduced to that little black thing called a recorder. I remember at the time wanting desperately to move on to the trumpet, but was told that I had to learn the basics. There would be plenty of time later for a trumpet. Even though I was greatly disappointed, I can honestly say that upon reflection, that music class opened up to me a whole new world. Music would become an integral part of my life, and the lessons I would learn from participation in it would benefit me for years to come.
By the seventh grade, I felt I was ready for the big move up. I approached the music teacher and said that I wanted to play in the junior high band. He welcomed my interest but said that the only position open was French horn. French horn? I wanted to play the trumpet or drums! But he said it was the French horn or nothing. So I began taking lessons, and shortly thereafter found myself in junior high band.
By the time next year rolled around I was asked to move up to the senior high band. They were in need of French horn players. As an eighth-grader, to be accorded this opportunity was quite an honor. This promotion was not so much about talent as it was about desperation.
I was too small for football and basketball so the next most popular thing on campus was the band! Oh, how I loved that uniform---concerts, traveling to competitions, marching in parades and at football games. Those were grand days to be sure. But without a doubt, the most advantageous aspect of this participation was in the life principles I learned. Let me share a few with you.
LESSON ONE: PRACTICE! It always showed up in the performance. It contributed to a sense of self-confidence. So it is with our relationship with the Lord. Spending daily time in God’s Word, memorizing key passages contributes greatly to our growth in Him and usefulness to Him. After all, a true musician wants to be at his best. One time a committee asked Enrico Caruso, the great tenor, to sing at a concert that would benefit charity. The chairman said, “Of course, Mr. Caruso, as this is a charity affair we would not expect much from you. Your name alone will draw a crowd and you can merely sing dome song requiring little effort or skill.” Caruso drew himself up and replied, “Gentlemen, Caruso never does less than his best.” And something tells me that Caruso practiced often in an effort to be constantly at his best. O, may the Lord help us to have that same attitude in our service to Him…being prepared at all times, so that we might be at our best when the Lord calls upon us.
LESSON TWO: INSTRUMENT MAINTAINANCE. Keeping it clean, polished, protected from the elements. Spiritually speaking, the same could be said of the human instrument through which God wants to convey His love. We must keep ourselves unspotted from the world. The best sounds emanate from that equipment which is kept in the best condition possible.
LESSON THREE: TUNE UP TO THE DESIGNATED APPOINTEE. This person, (usually the concert master) or instrument became our standard. The bible is the standard by which we measure our behavior and belief. When we stray from it our lives produce a dissonance this is unpleasant and unproductive.
LESSON FOUR: KEEPS YOUR EYES ON THE CONDUCTOR. If you don’t, you may lag behind, or rush ahead. Timing is extremely important. So it is in the spiritual realm. We must “turn our eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” A good orchestra strives for balance and unity. So does a church.
LESSON FIVE: FOLLOW THE MUSIC. Rest when it is called for, keep the sound level in accordance with the composer’s wishes. There are times when softness is called for; there are times when loudness is appropriate. Again, God’s instruction Book, when followed will produce a life of sweet harmony.
LESSON SIX: REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE A PART OF THE WHOLE. A concert will not be what it is intended to be without everyone participating. No single member should despise himself. Don’t be like the piccolo player that just that. Halfway through a rehearsal, with trumpets blaring, drums rolling, and violins singing their rich melody, the piccolo player muttered to himself, “What good am I doing? I might as well not be playing. Nobody can hear me anyway.” So he placed his instrument to his lips but made no sound. Within moments the conductor cried, “Stop the music! Stop the music! Where’s the piccolo?” Perhaps many people did not realize that the piccolo was missing, but the conductor did. We play chiefly to please him. And if we achieve that, the audience benefits greatly. So it is in the Christian life. We strive to please the Master. He is glorified and others benefit. God knows when we do not play the part assigned to us, even if others do not.