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"Music doesn't exist until it is performed." --Benjamin Britten

In an earlier section Talking About vs. Doing, I mentioned that music is an aural art form and as such, needs to be played to hear it. I also relayed the story of a student music teacher teaching the seven-note major scale (Do-Re-Mi-Fa…) to eighth graders. She presented the scale note by note and had the students write the same. Then she allowed the students to work independently to write the scale on their own. After a brief time of walking around to help them, the bell rang and the students went to their next class. After the students left, I asked what kind of class she had just taught, and she told me, “A music class!” To which I responded, “But I just sat through a 50-minute class and I didn’t hear one single note of music.”

MUSIC IS DOING. Music is an aesthetic, aural art form that is performable by active participation. In a large sense, music does not even exist unless it is BEING performed. The sound of music is present only when being played in some manner. Take your hands off an instrument for playing, stop your diaphragm from blowing, close your mouth for singing, or relax your lips while whistling a tune and the music instantly disappears. Even recorded music, such as on a CD, needs to be played to hear it. In a music classroom, MUSIC HAPPENS by singing, chanting, moving, playing, performing, improvising, creating, composing, and arranging. These are all active participation (doing). Very few activities for music are the understanding part, such as, listening, reading, notating, describing, and evaluating (thinking or talking about). Successful music teachers know that developing great music students requires 90% active participation (doing) and 10% inactive (talking about). The not-so-successful teachers turn the percentages around and focus mainly on talking about. Music only exists by DOING. This reminds me of God Himself, “I am that I am,” forever present in the present tense, like an “ing” word.

MUSIC IS EXPERIENTIAL. Music is experienced aesthetically. When the sound disappears, all aesthetic attributes cease, as well as any possibility for an aesthetic experience that a listener could have with the music. What is an aesthetic experience? I think there are two sides to this answer.

ARTISTIC PERSPECTIVE. One part of the aesthetic experience may be viewed from a purely artistic perspective. (Trust me for a moment of going deep.) The aesthetic experience may be described as anticipated tendencies in the music and in the listener that are either fulfilled or denied. Great art is that which achieves an acceptable balance between fulfillment and denial, which can also happen across eras. Too much fulfillment produces uniformity and boredom, while too much denial produces perplexity and misunderstanding. The aesthetic experience begins with a person’s subjective reality, that part of the human experience, which cannot be expressed in words. This subjective reality, through one’s perceptive ability (the ability to perceive the inner workings of an art form), allows humans to become a part of other humans’ subjective realities, past and present; thereby becoming more human.

The aesthetic experience is one in which a person may “experience” art beyond the expressions of language. Since music is one of the most non-verbal of all art forms, it therefore is unique in being the most direct channel for the aesthetic experience. Music affords these experiences not normally provided through any other means. One example of this is when a listener or performer deeply “connects” with the music of a composer. When a person tries to communicate his/her aesthetic experience, the attempt usually sounds like, “I can’t find the words to describe it. You just should have been there!” A beautiful sunset may be described like this as well.

SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE. The other part of the aesthetic experience may be viewed from a spiritual perspective. When in the aesthetic experience, we have somehow entered into touch with the spiritual and eternal, which is some degree of God’s Presence. There is an awe and holiness to it that leaves humans speechless. Whether it is like God’s Presence surrounding the burning bush that Moses experienced on Mt. Horeb, or momentary entering into the Outer Court, Holy Place, or Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle or Temple, or into Heaven itself, I cannot say. But it is somehow being touched by God Himself. Could it be that the artistic and spiritual in the aesthetic experience are one in the same? After all, is not God the ultimate Creator and we are made in His Image as creative?

MUSIC IS EXCELLENCE. When music skills are developed to perfection, and artistry is the focus of performance, the aesthetic experience has the greatest opportunity of happening. I do not believe an aesthetic experience is possible if sloppiness, carelessness, or indifference (heartlessness) is present. I believe it is conditional, much like James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” I related one incident of an aesthetic experience actually happening to my music class in the paragraph “Perfection into Aesthetics” in the section about Student Accountability.

After 35 years of being a performing musician and music teacher, I conclude that music and its aesthetic experience do not exist without music being performed. And that music’s performance must be active participation (“ing” doing words), highly perfected skills, and a keenly focused artistic heart-intent without sloppiness, carelessness, or indifference.

Is this also true of Christianity? It does not even exist unless it is being “performed”? So pastor, are you teaching your church members how to perform Christianity?

Your Belief System and Your Church: (1) Introduction

Your Belief System and Your Church: (2) Your Paradigms

Your Belief System and Your Church: (3) Bondage or Freedom

Your Belief System and Your Church: (4) Gateway Skills

Your Belief System and Your Church: (5) Teacher Accountability

Your Belief System and Your Church: (6) Talking About vs. Doing

Your Belief System and Your Church: (7) Student Accountability

Your Belief System and Your Church: (8) Assessment

Your Belief System and Your Church: (9) Bury Dead Tradition

Your Belief System and Your Church: (10) Teaching vs. Learning

Your Belief System and Your Church: (11) Teachers' Three Phases

Your Belief System and Your Church: (12) Excellence is NOT a Goal

Your Belief System and Your Church: (13) My Teaching Limits Were Their Learning Limits

Your Belief System and Your Church: (14) Unlearning Creates Success

Your Belief System and Your Church: (15) Pioneers vs. Settlers

Your Belief System and Your Church: (16) Real and Lasting Learning

Your Belief System and Your Church: (17) Problems With Memory

Your Belief System and Your Church: (18) Ownership Creates Success

Your Belief System and Your Church: (19) Not Perfect, But Honest

Your Belief System and Your Church: (20) Take Risks and Give Away Control

Your Belief System and Your Church: (21) Out of a Job

Your Belief System and Your Church: (22) KCAASE and Proverbs 24

Your Belief System and Your Church: (23) Responding vs. Reacting

Your Belief System and Your Church: (24) Only When Performed

Your Belief System and Your Church: (25) A Supervisor's Vision

Your Belief System and Your Church: (26) Glimpses Into the Spiritual

Your Belief System and Your Church: (27) One Reason Alone

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Ouch! But music is the most nonverbal of art forms? What about painting or photagrapy or dance? One need use only their eyes to appreciate theese, much like the sunset you mentioned. It becomes verbal only if we use a sign or try to describe it to someone. These also have both aspects of aesthetic working and benefit from a lack or careless sloppy work. Moreover, are you holding me accountable when I fail to perform christianity. One of most annoying conflicts happened because someone though I was failing to perform an aspect of Christianity and had the courage to confront. This time they were only partly right. However, I greatly respected this person because I could tell very early that they could read me like a book and let me know it.
I had a music supervisor whom I consider to be one of the finest in the nation--certainly one of the most visionary. (If he was in charge of our domestic auto industry, it wouldn't be in the shape it's in.) He spent the first five years of my career "holding my feet to the fire" to teach me professionalism and accountability. I rebelled, resisted, squirmed, and complained. I was stubborn, negative, and incorrigible. But when God broke through and made it clear to me that HE was instigating this training, not just my supervisor, I have sung HIS and his praises for that molding of my character ever since, which has now been nearly 35 years. Can you imagine what would happen to the integrity and spiritual life of a church if a pastor was as visionary as my supervisor?
Or if we had more mentors like the one I mentioned earlier... Don't think we would be seeing as many discusions about a church not doing what it should or a church without courage. I can do an amazing rendition of the kick, scream, fight, fuss, grumble and resist routine myself. As for stuborn...my cat is one of a few "individuals" I can't outstuborn... Over the last few years I've discovered that some folks held back from correcting me because they feared my reaction. Thing is I was in part testing to discover if they would be there regardless...a resounding Nope in many cases. I was also reacting the way I always had because no one had ever taught me a better way. Sometimes I wasn't above using the knowledge of what makes folks back off to my advantage. Pastors and mentors some of us need you to be strong and take whatever we dish out if we are ever going to grow. Yes we will eventually get it right. We will also respect you for facing the storm and staying with us.

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