Playing the Sunset
First please read Playing the Sunset at JesusLife Together
A friend sent me the above linked website article via e-mail and it really spoke to me. I think it might minister to many of you who are fans of this site, and especially fans who are musicians. The ability to play the “SONG”, instead of just “NOTES” is a subject that should be pondered.
Where each of you are in your walk with the Lord is something that you should be constantly assessing . . . whether you are growing, stagnating, going through the various possible realities of relationship stated in the article linked above.
I don’t want to address in this Note the state of your inner beings so much as I want to expound on the musical analogies. I, for one, have definitely been challenged by reaching plateaus in my relationship with the Lord, and just existing at times, waiting on a new catalyst for rebirth of “commitment”, purpose, assurance of the prophesied destiny I’m supposed to have in ministry (I am sure that I’m going to heaven — that’s not a struggle I deal with) and bouts with depression — those have all occurred. But for this Note, I want to discuss the blog article’s message as it pertains to music. The writer of the blog did most of his or her teaching through what they knew well – GOLF. I’d rather keep it focused on music.
I have always loved the movie, “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” and when the scene came in which Richard Dreyfuss, as Mr. Holland, was able to get the red-headed girl free from her own fears and attempts at technical perfection in performance (which she obviously never was going to master that way), I completely identified BOTH with his ability to get her set free and her struggle to be free.
Here’s the youtube link to view the scenes in which they interact (and never mind the quote from Lyndon Johnson at the end LOL!!)
What the blog writer calls “tempo,” I define as flowing with the Holy Spirit.
I believe God’s prophetic psalmists can “play the sunset” . . . many have this anointing even before they become believers. I had it as a child. The gift of God was resident in me from conception. Maybe that was because I was Jewish and had a covenant with Him from the beginning. I don’t know if I can articulate this correctly, but the LOVE I felt for music gave me what earthly people call a ‘style’ that touched listeners beyond their expected enjoyment of my performance. I could produce a sound as a 10 year old that was on a skill level of an older person. If you walked into my house and couldn’t see who was playing, you would be surprised to see a 10 year old at the piano. People tend to have an awe of a person that can be so accomplished at such an early age.
I loved to embellish chords — what I called “thickening” them — meaning having one finger hit more than one note, to play 6ths, major 7ths, and suspensions. I wasn’t satisfied with cut and dried tempo and notes that were on the sheet music. MANY times, the sheet music was wrong when it came to pop music. The printed chords did not match the recordings I had heard. I had to work around what was on the paper. That transferred to my life as a prophetic musician. I can play basic chords and play simplistically when it’s called for, but my view of God the Father is expansive, so I tend to play much fuller sounds.
I learned in classical music, how to stick to EXACTLY what was on the page, and how to appreciate the composers that received such divine compositions. From that knowledge and ability, comes my ability to deal with playing music received by others, and enjoying it. But my real first love is improvisation – roaming with God in the Spirit.
Playing For My Father
As the anonymous writer of the blog article writes regarding “playing the sunset,” (for those of you that didn’t watch the YouTube video posted above): “In that movie, the teacher asked the young girl what she liked about herself when she looked in the mirror. She answered him by saying, “My father always says that my hair reminds him of a sunset.” Mr. Holland said, “Play the sunset then.” She loved what brought her father pleasure, not what qualities she thought were best, or what she thought was good or desirable or pretty. She never made mention of what she liked—she only remembered what pleased her father. So, with a smile on her face, she could play pleasure to her father because it brought her pleasure to please him. What pleases my Father?! That’s the song I want to play! The song that flows from His Heart, to my quiet and listening and courageous heart, and back to Him as my gift to Him.”
My ability in music was genetic, and my love of music was completely wrapped up in my love for my father, from whom I got this intense gene.
I grew up wanting to play piano like my earthly father, Roy, who was phenomenal!
He could boogie-woogie with the best of them, loved Broadway music, big band music, torch songs, and was actually hired by Tommy Dorsey in the 40’s from a tape my grandmother took to an audition; and when he found out, he turned him down!!
I actually began playing at the age of 6 by imitating my dad on a little chord organ we had at our house. It was one of those organs that had about 4 octaves of keys and a section where you could press and hold a button for the accompanying chord you wanted played, whether major or minor. I broke in my right hand before I knew really how to use my left, and I was left-handed, so this was a good thing. 🙂
Wanting my dad’s approval was what drove me, and I did have his approval. I was a definite “chip off the old block” musically. His playing helped define mine. However, I developed into other areas of playing that he never touched – classical music, pop music of the 60’s, 70’s and beyond, rock music, a little jazz music, and finally – prophetic music.
When I met Yeshua, it added a whole new dimension to what drove me. There was a new person to please. It took time for me to live through having the Holy Spirit realign my musical goals in life. Growing up Jewish, I just knew “God”. I did NOT know Him as Father – because I wasn’t taught and didn’t believe, He had a son. BUT, when I did meet the Son, I realized that the person I had been relating to all along was the Father. I knew He was the source of my inspirations in music all along, but now I understood “HE” was composed of 3 parts, and that one of them had died and been resurrected, so I could have eternal life.
Most Christians grow up majoring in knowing the Son, and have a somewhat tougher time relating to the Father, especially if their earthly father or a pastor was not a nurturing person. I was the exact opposite. I immediately transferred my love of my earthly father to my heavenly Father. I knew, without understanding how, that music could be dictated by both the Father or Jesus in prophetic psalmistry. I learned that it was the Holy Spirit and occasionally angels that communicated the directions or dictation to me in psalmistry.
When I would move in prophetic song, sometimes I was singing as the Father, and sometimes, as the Son!! Have you ever experienced this? In my 30’s, it became experiencing, learning, and developing in the function of HOW to do this that drove me, until I really became mature in it……and now, I’m back to only wanting to function to please my Father in heaven. I don’t need to practice, practice, practice…..it’s a resident gift that’s developed.
WHO or WHAT is your motivation for playing? If it’s not for your heavenly Father, you need to repent, pray and wait on the Holy Spirit to get you set straight. This is not about US and how music makes us feel great, complete, fulfilled or “alive”……this is about the God head, and pleasing THEM. If you are one that is driven to greatness in music just to “prove to someone that you can do it,” that’s the wrong motivation. If you are trying to please a pastor or a music teacher, that’s a lesser motivation than the ultimate one that’s available to you.
Ultimately, God wants us to PLAY THE SUNSET…..FEEL the sunset, and play it – what Richard Dreyfuss was alluding to was an inner motivation combining with a solid knowledge of the music you are playing. The red-haired girl KNEW the note patterns.
She had them down cold. How many of you can take a song you’ve known for years – a worship song – one you might even be sick of hearing – and really bring it to LIFE again by allowing God to unveil the majesty of the chord changes to you in new levels? Improvising on it is ok, too – branching off of the main theme might be required to rekindle the pilot light – but the bottom line is to not be SELF-CENTERED when playing…..it is to be GOD-CENTERED, allowing yourself to ENJOY the sound coming out of you. You are not even to be NOTE CENTERED — worrying about making a mistake.
Just close your eyes and allow GOD to play the sound through you – so that HIS version of the notes come out. If you are trying to play something that is too complicated for your skill level, then simply play something simpler until you can be taught more skills. God can heal people through you holding just one note!! It’s not the complicated-ness of the piece of music — it’s the communication of God’s voice THROUGH the music notes. HIM communicating, communing within the ears and inner beings of people.
Playing With My Eyes Closed
I play many times with my eyes closed. That’s because I literally was born with a lazy eye, and it’s easier for me to play by feel. My eyes don’t track together. Never have. They both see, but I use one or the other primarily at a given time, never both together in 3D vision. One eye is dominant at a time. My right eye is primarily farsighted; my left eye is nearsighted. I have 20/30 vision in my right, and 20/200 in my left. Why is complicated. Has to do with failed attempts by opthamologists to surgically fix the situation, and what they did afterwards to try to compensate for the failure.
I realize that the enemy attacked me in my mother’s womb with this condition. I guess he knew I would be a musician, and he hates musicians because we took his place as worship leader in heaven. He didn’t play an instrument – he WAS an instrument. Timbrels and lyres (percussion and strings) sounds were built into him. He opened his mouth and out they came, when he wanted them to…..we don’t have built in sound, except our singing voices, so we have to play instruments that are outside of us.
The enemy also, I believe, knew I had a seer calling on my life – as a visionary, dream interpreter and prophetess. That made him furious, so my eyes were attacked. Where I am weak, He is strong! Praise God! My physical eyes are weak. My spiritual eyes have compensated for that.
So, when I play a piano, I have to view both right and left hands, not out of both eyes at once – by one or the other seeing the hands clearly. This can cause great headaches. I learned early on to shut my eyes so that I could avoid pain and strain. Now that I have synthesizers to play, I have to leave my eyes open more and wear my glasses because in addition to playing the keys, I have to change settings manually on two instruments as I play. It can be physically exhausting after a couple of hours.
But I have the ability to play by feel – a gift from God to be able to even jump around the keyboard and land on the right note in the right octave when needed. This allows me to TASTE, EXPERIENCE, BE EFFECTED by the sound coming back at me more than some other keyboard players might be. I can actually enjoy the effect of the vibrations as I play them. I can commune with God more directly as I trust Him to have my hands land in the right places.
Playing with our eyes closed is a challenge AND a joy!! It is also a matter of TRUST — in both our own ability to play, God’s ability to keep our hands where they need to be, and God’s ability to dictate to us the notes we are to play. We have to TRUST our memories to play a song we already know, with our eyes shut. We have to TRUST the Holy Spirit to play a song we’ve never heard before – especially with our eyes shut!!
THIS is the ultimate in playing the SONG, not just the notes. Going leaps and bounds beyond technical skill, and actually becoming ONE with Him in the notes, the vibrations, the sounds He gives us.
May we all continue to yield to this process.