WRIGHT WAY: Can music change you?
by WILLIAM WRIGHT
Feb 02, 2011 | 2065 views | 0 0 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I grew up watching musicals like “Singing in the Rain” and “The Music Man,” wishing life was more like a Hollywood musical than a Martin Scorsese film.

There was something sweet about falling in love and singing about it in the rain, atop a hill, on a rooftop or with a chorus of singers behind you. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, I thought, if true love made a person jump out of bed, glow like the rising sun and break out in song and dance?

This notion which I nurtured led to my adolescent friends and I putting on several musicals (like “The Little Rascals”) in the basement of one of our friends. Naturally, it was about getting the attention of the local girls.

We rehearsed steps like the Temptations, had spotlight performances imitating James Brown and Little Stevie Wonder. We even had a warm-up act before we came out!

Parents and others children attended our little concerts as they admired our efforts, enjoyed our refreshments and wanted to know what we could do for an encore. This was all before the Jackson Five burst on the musical scene in late 1969 and took dance and pop music to a whole new level.

Like everyone else I became an admirer of their music and dance which resembled the choreographed musicals I watched and loved on TV. Besides, we moved the following year from Atlanta to Decatur, Ga., where a whole new world of music was awaiting me.

That’s right. I joined the high school chorus! This turned out to be my favorite class in high school. It combined the most beautiful, talented sophomore, junior and senior females in high school with the musicals I grew up loving in my childhood! We sang those show tunes and a few popular songs, not unlike the musical TV show “Glee,” only with far less talent and drama.

We had a bubbly music teacher named Nancy Stidham, the only teacher whose name I can remember four decades later. She was fair, funny, tough and talented in how she worked with each student to bring our voices together. In my first year of musical competition we received the highest attainable rating, “Superior.”

The following year our teacher introduced us to a new musical, “Jesus Christ — Superstar.” Every time we rehearsed that song I felt sick to my stomach. After about two weeks of rehearsals I found the courage to approach Mrs. Stidham in class and whisper I could not sing this song.

As the class was singing it, she softly asked me why. I explained that it did not feel right. It was the lyrics. The words were offensive to me. She stopped the class, asked the senior students to come up one at a time and asked if they felt this song was sacrilegious. I watched as they talked.

Most agreed that the song was sacrilegious but several had no problem singing it anyway. I braced myself for her decision. She quickly told the class to put that sheet music away. We would not be singing it. That made her my favorite teacher of all time. It also gave me, a relatively quiet student, more respect with my musical peers.

More than that, my decision to take a stand on the music I chose to sing brought me in touch with my own spiritual yearning to please God and to seek out music that did more than praise the virtues of love but which praises God as the source of love who first loved me.

Psalm 33:1 says, “Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. — New International Version.

When a person loves God and is in love with God, they are inspired to sing of His goodness because that is what people in love do — they sing!

At Ephesians 5:19 Paul wrote to one Christian congregation to be “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

Music is a wonderful gift from God. If you listen, you can find it almost anywhere in nature. Birds sing, many animals sing, even the angels in heaven sing. According to Childrenmusicworkshop.com, early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in reasoning.

It also enhances teamwork skills and discipline. How? Well, in order for an orchestra to sound good, all players must work harmoniously towards a single goal — the performance. They must commit to learning music, practicing and attending rehearsals.

In music, you learn a mistake is a mistake; the instrument is in tune or not, the notes are well played or not. It is only by much hard work that a successful performance is possible. Through a study of music, students learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence and the rewards of hard work. This also produces greater self-esteem.

When it comes to singing spiritual praise to the One living and true God, all of these principles come into play. After all, life may not be a musical, but thanks to God, we have music to enrich our lives.

As art historian Anita Brookner once said, “Always let them think of you as singing and dancing.”

*For a copy of The Little White Book of Light featuring more Wright Way columns, visit barnesandnoble.com, booksamillion.com and amazon.com.