Friday, 26 June 2015

Church: scales and arpeggios

One of the biggest challenges in learning any instrument, but in my opinion the piano excels here, is the learning of the scales, arpeggios and broken chords. The endless hours I have spent over the years with scales in parallel and contrary motion - the mind-numbing boredom of moving from major to relative minor and the ever present (though long dead) voice of my teacher muttering, 'Look at the key signature. Sharps and flats! No, No, No! Start again!'

But the reality is that the more we practice our scales the more our fingers become accustomed to moving over the keyboard and our 'mechanical memory' grows such that when we look at the key signature on a piece we already know in our fingers what out head sometimes struggles to interpret; and I don't know about you but I have great respect for, and enjoyment from, those who can play an instrument well.

I also have great respect for those who can perform well in the way that they live but here we don't turn to musical scales, arpeggios and exercises (unless you'd like to include singing God's praise that is). No, what we do to live our life well is to take up a series of other exercises: Spiritual exercises where we:

i. Read the words in the Bible and work at making them come to life in the way that we live,

ii. Look at what is before us and take time to reflect on it so we can keep the rhythm and live in tune with God.

iii. Listen to the 'God' sounds around us; practice filtering out the discordant noise that distracts us; use the heartbeat of a God as the  metronome - let Him set the tempo.

St Augustine is often quoted as having said that the person who sings (well) prays twice! 

Well as much as that could rule some out with regard to the singing, I have to agree because you can't sing without being drawn into the words that are being used. This is why we sing Psalms and 'spiritual songs' in Church: We are, or at least often become, what we sing and so the singing of the words of the Bible are more than just singing words and music - they are part of our spiritual discipline.

So what words are we going to sing over those we love?

What words will we sing over our town, nation and the world itself?

What is it that God is singing over each of us - Are we stopping to hear it?

...and God walked up to his piano and sitting, struck a chord. Three separate notes which, when united, make for something rounded and beautiful that quickens the heartbeat and yet stills the soul; the notes played together which bring passion and a spring in the step of those who hear it. Three persons, one voice - that perfect chord.

God struck the note and sang - And it was!

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