Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Note"-able Scents

I think it is fascinating that coffee blends are often described as having "notes" or "tones". These descriptive terms are used to try to help us understand the aromas and flavors of the coffee blends we choose. I went on a coffee website this morning ( to see what some of their descriptions were. Here are just a few....."high, lemongrass notes", "subtle floral aroma", "sweet, spicy, and berry notes", "smoky, berry notes".

As a coffee drinker, I tend to prefer medium or dark roasts. I especially enjoy those that are described as smoky, nutty, or spicy tones. I don't usually like the ones that are considered to have fruity or citrusy notes.

Music is made up of notes and tones, but they are more than just sounds on a musical scale. Music can and does express attitudes and feelings. Last week, we discussed a little about the attitudes of the music we listen to, and the attitudes it produces in us.

This week, I would like to think about the aroma and attitude of our music as musicians. If you sing or play an instrument, what kind of attitude do you have about your music? What kind of "aroma" does your music project? Is it heartfelt or is it cold and emotionless? Is it timid or confident? Is it Christ-centered or audience-centered, or worse yet, self-centered? Is it designed to bless or just to impress?

I will confess, as a pianist and a singer, I have struggled with many of these issues. I want to play and sing with confidence, and yet not be arrogant. I want to sing with emotion, but not be an actor or performer. I used to worry about my music being perceived as too "showy" or flamboyant, so I would play and sing with little emotion or feeling. That just made my music appear timid, weak, or lifeless.

I. A Note of Encouragement

There are several Scriptures that have helped me learn how to have the right "aroma" in my music. In Colossians 3:16, the Bible states, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." If the Word of Christ is dwelling in me, if I have "grace in my heart" and I am singing to the Lord, my music will admonish and encourage others.

II. A Note of Excellence

Colossians 3:23 says, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;". We need to sing or play "heartily". Put your heart into it! Don't do it for people; do it for the Lord. When I worry too much about what people think, instead of what the Lord thinks, my music will reflect that. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might...." Give your best to the Lord!

If I am to give my best, I must be willing to work to develop my skills. Again, this is not to impress others, but so that we may offer our best to Christ. Psalm 33:3 says, "Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise." If I have not practiced a song much, and am not confident that I can play (or sing) skilfully, I tend to play timidly. Most of us won't play with strength, and "a loud noise", if we have not worked to be skilful.

III. A Note of Expression

One of the hardest things for me was singing with feeling. Part of this is because I get so nervous. The other part is because I worried too much about what people thought. (The fear of man bringeth a snare..." Pro. 29:25.) Music is a very expressive thing. We shouldn't inject emotion just to impress others, but if we are singing with our hearts, then we must learn to express the feelings of what we are singing about. If I am singing about the joy of the Lord, and sing with a blank expression, and an unemotional voice, then I am sending a mixed message. The Psalms are filled with the emotions of David. "My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed."(Ps. 71:23). He speaks over and over about singing praise to the Lord, singing with joy to the Lord. Many of the Psalms begin with David describing feelings of discouragement and despair, but end with His assurance that the Lord is with him and will meet all of his needs. When we sing (or play) songs of faith, we should do so with assurance. When we sing of the love of God, we should show the love of the Lord in our hearts.

IV. A Note of Earnestness

The most important part of this is to allow the Holy Spirit to work in you. Keep your focus on pleasing the Lord, not people. Ask the Lord to help you. Choose songs that are true to what you believe in, and that you can sing with honesty and sincerity in a heartfelt way. If I am going to sing "I Surrender All" and I am in rebellion to the Lord, then I cannot sing honestly to the Lord. The solution here would not be to choose a different song, but to get our hearts in tune with the Lord.

So what are the "note"-able scents in your music? Do people perceive the attitude and overtones of your music to be sincere, sweet, and Spirit-filled? If not, let's ask the Lord to change our hearts, and give us an aroma that would be pleasing and honoring to Him.

1 comment:

Alicia Reagan said...

What a great "note" of encouragement! Love you!