Musicians

I am not a musician. I love music. I attend quite a few concerts and other opportunities to hear music. I listen to music in my car. I play the trumpet and guitar and dabble at the piano. I sing in the church choir. I took a few courses in music in college. I serve on the board of directors of a musical group and I’ve raised a lot of music for various choirs and musical groups over the years. But I am not a musician. Here are some of the reasons why I know that I’m not a musician.

I can turn off all of the lights in a building when locking it. I’ve written about this topic before and won’t go into depth on the topic, but suffice it to say that we’ve had a lot of musicians who work in our church over the years and none of them could get all of the lights turned off when it was their responsibility to lock the building. Our current staff are no exception. Just last night one musician offered to turn off the lights in the balcony, made a trip up and down the stairs and when that person had gone out the door, I went up into the balcony to turn off the four light switches which had been left on. It doesn’t bother me. I want to have musicians in the church and their skills at making music are much more valuable than their ability to turn off light switches.

I don’t have a soundtrack for my life, or if I do, it involves a lot of silence. I am not always thinking about music. Sure, I can get a song in my head and have it going over and over again. And I can have events or conversations bring songs to mind. I’ve been known to sing a few bars from a musical in response to something that we’ve been talking about. But I enjoy silence. When I am home alone, I often go about my work with no music in the background. I can drive for hundreds of miles on occasion with no music playing, just listening to the sounds of the vehicle I am driving and thinking.

I possess a few practical skills. I know that this is a bit unfair and is a stereotype, but I’ve spend enough time worrying about budgets and how to pay the bills over the years to know that my role in the church is different from the many musicians I have known who really don’t want to think about money at all. I make sure the oil in my car is changed on a regular basis. I can repair many household items when they break. I know how to dress appropriately when the weather turns cold.

Before I descend completely into stereotypes, a bit of history might be in order. One of my brothers is a musician. He has worked in a bicycle shop, as a personal assistant to a professional, as a home health aid, as a taxi driver, and in a lot of different roles. But he is first and foremost a musician. When music doesn’t produce enough income to put groceries on the table, which has been most of his life, he will work at another job, but he is always thinking about music. He is a percussionist. And he’s pretty good, too. He has played with rock bands, jazz bands and currently plays with a big band. When we were kids, our family living room doubled as a music room. A piano was one of its prominent pieces of furniture. We practiced our instruments in that room. My brother had a trap set in that room. He would play for hours, sometimes at volume levels that threatened to drive the rest of the family out of the house. My parents defended his music and made space for him.

My mother had only a few house plants, and the ones she had were hearty. There was a begonia in our living room that had been doing well, but was rather stunted and sickly during the years that the drum set occupied a space in that room. When the drum set moved on with my brother, the begonia flourished and grew into a big, healthy plant. We always suspected that the begonia was a music critic and wasn’t found of drums.

Once, when we were teens, our parents went on a trip. My brother took the opportunity of their absence to hitchhike across five states to attend a Music Educator’s National Convention. He’s never been the best at everyday communication and his trip caused more than a little bit of worry before he returned home safely.

Music has always been a high priority for him. I do not know, but I suspect that his passion has been a factor in some of his divorces, and he’s had more than most people.

There are plenty of musicians who live rather normal lives, have healthy relationships, earn a good living, possess practical skills, and even turn off the lights when leaving a room. But there are also some quirky personalities who are a bit difficult to live with who make wonderful music. I’m drawn to the quirky ones who can really make music. I’ve put up with a lot over the years to have good musicians in the churches I serve. I’ve gone to bat to raise money to cover new and repaired instruments. I’ve championed higher salaries for musicians. I’ve advocated for music programs. I’ve refereed a few arguments and disagreements between musicians. And I’ve gone around the building turning off lights after rehearsals.My role as supervisor of church employees has involved a lot of work with musicians. Other pastors, office staff and janitors are far less time consuming for senior ministers than the musicians on the staff.

I do not, however, want to live in a world without musicians. I don’t want to serve a church without musicians. I just have to write a journal entry and blow off a little steam from time to time in order to keep from yelling at them.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!