Music and Graduation

Waiting to graduate is like waiting for a train to actually come into the station, when it’s still a mile out and creeping along. You can see the bright light, you can hear it whistling, and the bar at the railroad crossing has just lowered and is flashing and dinging like mad. Exciting times–but hard not to rush these last few weeks. Motivation has made herself pretty scarce these days.

I wrote that a month ago as the beginning of some unfinished blog post. I think I’ll leave it unfinished. It certainly felt true at the time, but today the graduation train is closer to the station and I don’t feel so impatient. I feel downright sentimental about that train. And while I’m still glad to be finishing college, I don’t feel as much like getting the heck out of Dodge as I did a month ago.

It’s kind of like how, when I was a kid living in the country, I wanted to live in a neighborhood, with a cute, normal house instead of a crazy in-construction mobile home. But when we moved to said cute, normal house, I yearned more than anything for the freedom and space of the country. I’m not exactly digging in my heels to stay in college forever, but I feel really glad for every second I’ve spent here.

Tonight I went to a choir concert, the 200th or so of all the concerts I’ve been required to attend as a music major. Just a few days ago, I tossed that figure out as a complaint–“ugh, look at all the music stuff I’ve had to go to since they wouldn’t let me quit music!” But oh goodness, tonight I looked up at all the lovely faces of new friends and old friends and started bawling like a baby.

Not literally bawling. My eyes just started leaking, and I tried to shield my face from my friend sitting next to me, even though we’ve known each other since the first day of freshman year. Every song was more beautiful than the last, and I praised God for the wonderful, gorgeous gift of music. I was smiling, too, but mostly through these crazy tears because I am so thankful I had to go to those 200 concerts, if only so that I’d be there tonight.

Most of the things I complain about are precious gifts that I’m failing to recognize as such. Having to go listen to music as homework is one of those, I guess.

Last night I played in a concert–an extremely loud, raucous, steel drum concert–where I got to play an African drum, a Snapple bottle, and a chicken waterer, among other things. Oh, the fun I’ve had in that group! Looking back, it was a big factor in reminding me why I liked music in the first place. It brought some of the fun back into it. Sharing music with others to bring them joy is a lovely privilege that I’ve enjoyed for four whole years.

Tomorrow is my last piano lesson–maybe ever. That’s a hard thing to think about. My parents have ensured that music lessons have been available to me almost every week of my life since third grade. I’ve had a rocky relationship with some of my teachers–and especially with the reality of practicing–but dear God, thank You for the lessons.

Thank You for teachers who encouraged me to play well in order to make music, not in order to live up to their personal expectations of what I ought to be.

That last part sounds bitter, but it’s not. I learned a great deal from all my teachers, but I guess I’m especially grateful for those who recognized that music is best when it’s enjoyed, both by the listener and the performer. I know that excellence ought to be striven for in everything, but I think that the joy people derive from music is the most precious thing about it, even if we’re talking about a two-year-old banging on a cooking pot with a wooden spoon.

If I could learn how to present music–my study of it, my listening of it, all of it–to the Lord in recognition that He’s the one who made it, how much more value it would have! I was listening to a sermon earlier about how it’s often the “good and precious gifts” we’re given that we’re also tempted to make into idols–into things that we treat as more valuable than God. It’s the same everywhere–those wild surges of joy we feel when we experience something we really love; those tears I shed when I was moved by the music; the delight we see in seeing someone smile–all of these we’re tempted to think of as being the best it can be.

But these are only glimpses.

I hope that the glimpses of joy you see will remind you of the coming Joy that’s in Christ.

Thanks for reading:)

 

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