Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On Being A Musician

Me, being a musician.
My job requires me to wear many different hats. Often, the one that is so fundamental to what I do and how I have defined myself throughout most of my life - the musician hat - gets short-circuited or even ignored. Sometimes I take for granted the fact that I can play music, and I fail to appreciate the privilege of playing.

Tonight we prepped music for Westchester in one of the shortest - and most effective - rehearsals I've ever experienced. I looked around and realized that I'd played music with three of the guys for the entire duration of my time at PCC. There's a comfort in that; not just the musical synergy that comes with knowing someone's style, but also the personal comfort that these people know me. We work together well; we've learned, over the years, to listen to one another, to fill in the gaps, to trust each individual's ability to not just play notes but make music.

Playing music in front of other people is a very vulnerable thing. Whether in a church or in a bar, it's a delicate balance. If people are listening, we often struggle with the internal challenges of wanting acceptance and affirmation and knowing that we're good enough...even when we're playing for God. You'd think it would be easier, that playing "church music" would remove those inhibitions and make things more sacred or holy or easy, but often it's quite the opposite. As worship leaders, we strive very intentionally to make it about God and not about us. We're very aware of our shortcomings and our egos. We depend on the presence of God. And yet, we're human, and we're often insecure. As Andy said when I walked out with him and Kevin tonight, "We're weird."

We are. We know it. And we're often misunderstood - by ourselves and by others - and too much in our own heads. We're sometimes easily frustrated and too hard on ourselves and too quick to judge others and too easily impacted by whether we think we're doing a good job.

We're broken.

The best musicians I know realize that they are broken. They - WE - realize that there's always going to be someone who plays better and faster. We know that no matter how great we play today, we could screw it up royally tomorrow. We know that regardless of our success as musicians, we are still messed up men and women in need of rescue. In our brokenness, we simply must do the best we can with what we've got. We work hard to honor God with skills that have often been honed by thousands of hours in practice rooms, in bedrooms and garages and lengthy rehearsals. We are diligent in improving our art and singing scales and studying videos and taking lessons and constantly, consistently trying to offer our very best to our God and our church.

The bar is high for me this week, but the grace of familiarity and trust is an undercurrent that I can ride. The hat I wear this week is the one that just says "Beth: Musician". That makes me smile. I know these people. They know me. I trust them with who I am and what I do. It's a unique configuration.

And the icing on the cake is to play for Lindsay while she sings "How He Loves", which brought us to our knees in rehearsal. And then the cherry on top of that (not to mix too many metaphors) is to play behind Kevin as he sings "Give Me Jesus".

I am Beth. I am a musician.

I am blessed.


Brian C. Hughes said...


You probably have a hard time imagining what it must be like for those of us who have the distinct privilege of sitting on the other side of your leadership as a worship musician. I can talk about this, especially today, because I so often am the one standing on the platform teaching. So, to get to take a seat today and hear from Sammy was unusual. But it reminded me of how you probably just don't realize the 'magic' you make for us.

We know it's not magic, but the word translates. There is something you do that really touches on heaven. It brings heaven closer to where we are, even if for only a moment. And when you - and NO ONE does this better than you - assembles the right combination of musicians on the platforms at our various locations, you allow people to connect with God in ways they otherwise would not.

As a musician, you are unique. Gifted like few of us have ever seen or known. We're in awe of what you can do with an instrument.

But as a LEADER of musicians and others - the way you bridge between creatives, musicians and artists, linear types, technical folks, schedulers and project managers - how you can translate between all these types of people, keep them in the same the same the same TIME...and keep them from killing each other. How you manage to have them LOVE each other...It's something I marvel at and stand at a distance, jaw on the floor and wonder how in the world you ever found PCC!

You are not just a musician! You are not simply weird! You are broken, yes. Blessed? Sure.

But you are also a one in a million kind of combination - a unique makeup sent to us from God for such a time an place as this. And we couldn't do what we do without you.

So glad you are a part of our family!

annie said...

I loved this post, Beth, and I especially loved the affirmation in the comments! You are a radiant woman who has spread light everywhere you are.