I enjoy music. Some of my first early memories are of singing in the car with my family as we travelled to see my grandparents. Both my mom and dad liked to sing. My sister was a soprano and I eventually became a tenor. We would sing carols during the Christmas season. Sometimes we would sing a long with the radio. Other times we would just sing favourite songs. In the days before iPods and iPads, in those days when people didn't need to be entertained all of the time, singing was a good way to pass the two hours or so that it would take to drive to see my grandparents. Singing meant that we didn't get bored or play that awful game that children often play, "She is on my side of the car." Singing entertained us.
So it should not be surprising that quite early on I took an interest in music. I played violin for many years. I was never very good- my hands are not amble enough to be a proficient player. But I enjoyed singing a lot, and joined a number of choirs and began to do some solos in church. As many of you know, I did contemplate a career in music, but my call to ministry was stronger, but I still get to use my musical gifts in church.
On one hand, music is very simple. In the western scales, we have 13 notes- just 13 that we use to make up our songs. Another variation is tempo. Some music is played very fast; other music is deathly slow. Loud and soft is one more variable. The length of time individual notes are held is one more component of music. And finally voice can be different (a trumpet sounds different than a cymbal). We have so many different pieces of music only because we have varied these components. And we all know that some music sounds better than others. For instance, most 3 year olds playing a piano do not make beautiful music but a lot of noise. Mozart was the exception. The notes have to be constructed in a certain order in order to make a beautiful symphony.
Music though is very complex. It is able to express the feelings that we have from joy (Happy Birthday) to grief (Chopin's funeral march), to thrill (the 1812 Overture) for instance. Music is magical in the way it touches us. An alzheimer's patient may not respond to any other stimuli but if you play a piece of her favourite music, she begins to sing along. Music is life.
Music often relies on the gifts of many parts to weave it's magic. Some of those parts of easily recognisable, others seem less significant. I took a tour in Montreal once to see one of the largest organs in the world. The organ consisted of many different pipes and voices. Two or three of the pipes emit notes that are beyond the realm of human hearing. Someone on the tour asked why were they there then. If the object of an instrument is to play music, why have pipes that made no recognisable sound. The tour guide explained that it had been found that without those pipes, the whole sound of the instrument was not as rich. Even though they seemed to add nothing to the output of the sound, without them, the organ did not sound as good.
I think people are like music. On one hand we are very simple. We are all carbon based life forms with the same basic makeup. But we are also very complex. The slight variations in our faces allows me to distinguish Joe from George. Like music, some of us are loud and brash like a trumpet, while others of us are soft like an oboe. Some speak loudly with their actions, while others seem to contribute little. But I think all of us are important in the symphony of life. All of us make beautiful music together. Blessings.