Friday, October 19, 2012

Changin' Up the Repertoire

For those of you who check in with me occasionally, you know that usually my hands are wrapped around a Martin guitar, and my repertoire is typically focused on liturgical material: everything from traditional hymn tunes on the guitar to my own work.

But this week, I've been working with an astute, attentive, precocious, talented young musician.

The prodigy I am speaking of:
my grandson.

So, it's been a big switch from Make of Our Hands A Throne and I Want to Walk As a Child of the Light to a more formidable repertoire. I've had to change gears into classics like Make Believe Town and The Marvelous Toy.

(These, by the way, are from the epic album, Peter, Paul and Mommy. The album was so named because Mary's young daughter, Erica, would always introduce the trio this way. And – further proof of this trio's amazing abilities – they recorded the thing live in a kindergarten classroom. You can hear the squeals of the kids and the joy of the teachers, unedited, on this fabulous collection.)

I am convinced, after this week, that any church musician worth his or her salt should spend time, regularly, with 18-month olds. Size 2T's don't put up with a lot of bull. You either have the goods or you don't. Your music either delights them or it doesn't. There is no in-between.

So I had a ball this week, on fall break, with my wonderful daughter Jessica and her husband Drew (who teaches on the musical faculty at Appalachian State University). Now, to be fair, I judge them both to be extraordinary parents (I mean, really, who else puts their kids to bed by letting them watch YouTube videos of flash mob versions of Ravel's Bolero or Mozart's Lacrimosa?).

So for all you budding church musicians – and for those of us who've been around the block and the cycle of liturgical seasons a bit – it's good to remember that, as Jesus once said, "unless you be like one of these, you don't stand a chance of getting into the kingdom."

Let those who cannot laugh at themselves.... beware!

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