I am sure you already know that I am a music lover. As I mentioned in my last post, I am also a coffee lover. And before I ever want to taste the coffee, I want to smell it. I LOVE the aroma of fresh coffee. I think it is fascinating that coffee is often described as having “notes” or “tones”. These descriptive terms are used to try to help us understand the aromas and flavors of the coffee roasts we choose. I went on a coffee website (www.cariboucoffee.com) to see what some of their descriptions were. Here are just a few…..”high, lemongrass notes”, “subtle floral aroma”, “sweet, spicy, and berry notes”, “smoky, berry notes”.
Personally, I tend to prefer medium or dark roasts. I especially enjoy those that are described as smoky, nutty, or spicy tones. I don’t usually like the ones that are considered to have fruity or citrus notes.
Music is made up of notes and tones, but they are more than just sounds on a musical scale. Music can and does express attitudes and feelings.
I would like to think about the aromas and attitudes of our music as musicians. If you sing or play an instrument, what kind of attitude do you have about your music?
What kind of “aroma” does your music project? Is it heartfelt, or is it cold and emotionless? Is it timid, or confident? Is it Christ-centered, or audience-centered, or worse yet, self-centered? Is your music designed to bless, or to impress?
I will confess, as a pianist and a singer, I have struggled with many of these issues. I want to play and sing with confidence, and yet not be arrogant. I want to sing with emotion, but not be an actor or performer. I used to worry about my music being perceived as too “showy” or flamboyant, so I would play and sing with little emotion or feeling. That just made my music appear timid, weak, or lifeless.
I. A Note of Encouragement
There are several Scriptures that are helping me as I seek to learn how to have the right “aroma” in my music. In Colossians 3:16, the Bible states, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” If the Word of Christ is dwelling in me, if I have “grace in my heart” and I am singing to the Lord, my music will admonish and encourage others.
II. A Note of Excellence
Colossians 3:23 says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;”. We need to sing or play “heartily”. Put your heart into it! Don’t do it for people; do it for the Lord. When I worry too much about what people think, instead of what the Lord thinks, my music reflects that. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might….” Give your best to the Lord!
If I am to give my best, I must be willing to work to develop my skills. Again, this is not to impress others, but so that we may offer our best to Christ. Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.” If I have not practiced a song much, and am not confident that I can play (or sing) skilfully, I tend to play timidly. Most of us won’t play with strength, and “a loud noise”, if we have not worked to be skillful.
III. A Note of Expression
One of the hardest things for me is singing with feeling. Part of this is because I get so nervous. The other part is because I worry too much about what people think (which is probably why I get so nervous!). “The fear of man bringeth a snare…” (Pro. 29:25). Music is a very expressive thing. We shouldn’t inject emotion just to impress others, but if we are singing with our hearts, then we must learn to express the feelings we are singing about. If I am singing about the joy of the Lord, and sing with a blank expression, and an unemotional voice, then I am sending a mixed message. The Psalms are filled with the emotions of David. “My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.”(Ps. 71:23). He speaks over and over about singing praise to the Lord, singing with joy to the Lord. Many of the Psalms begin with David describing feelings of discouragement and despair, but end with His assurance that the Lord is with him and will meet all of his needs. When we sing (or play) songs of faith, we should do so with assurance. When we sing of the love of God, we should show the love of the Lord in our hearts.
IV. A Note of Earnestness
The most important part of this is to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through you. Keep your focus on pleasing the Lord, not people. Ask the Lord to help you.
Choose songs that are true to what you believe in, and that you can sing with honesty and sincerity in a heartfelt way. “…serve Him in sincerity and in truth…” (Josh. 24:14). If I am going to sing “I Surrender All” and I am in rebellion to the Lord, then I cannot sing honestly to the Lord. The solution here would not be to choose a different song, but to get my heart in tune with the Lord.
So what are the “note”-able scents in your music? Does the “aroma” you project match the message you are seeking to convey? Do people perceive the attitudes and overtones of your music to be sincere, sweet, and Spirit-filled? More importantly, how does the Lord perceive my aroma? Is it sweet-smelling to Him, or does it stink?
If our attitudes need some work, let’s ask the Lord to change our hearts, and give us an aroma that would be pleasing and honoring to Him, and that will be edifying to His people.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col. 3:16)