And you thought you hated those Christmas songs…

Yesterday, I was involved in creating Christmas music that made you reach for the ear-sporks. My Patient Husband and daughter decided to get out their respective cello and violin, and using a book of Christmas carols that came from when my mother took piano lessons, they began working through the first song phrase by phrase. I grabbed my violin and joined them.

“Give me an A so I can tune to you,” I said, only it turned out no one had tuned. This boded well.

An hour later, we’d managed to stumble through two songs, plus Kiddo3 and come upstairs to bang on Kiddo2’s retired drum set, and Kiddo4 had Kiddo3’s very old quarter size violin, and he enthusiastically made sounds with it. We made a lot of noise and all had fun, and I’m a little excited to go back and practice both songs again (solo.)

I started thinking last night about something I’ve had in mind since I started taking music lessons. Back in 2000, after Emily was diagnosed, I took guitar lessons because guitar lessons were significantly cheaper than psychotherapy, and I’d have a usable skill at the end. My goal was to be “better than the church lady” who strummed in time to the choir every Sunday. This was a reachable goal (and I would have reached it if my guitar instructor hadn’t said, “Actually, why don’t I just teach you to play?”) but I never did play in the church.

One morning, though, I brought the guitar out to the cemetery, and I sat beside Emily’s gravestone and played for her. She’d heard me playing badly in utero, and now I played there, just me and her (and maybe anyone whose house bordered the cemetery) and it felt right to do that. A couple of songs, and then I went home.

Yesterday, I realized what I wanted to do was play violin in the church. To just sneak in sometime during the day when no one’s around, play a couple of songs, and sneak out again.

But it feels wrong. Disrespectful. I don’t play well (trust me) and it feels as if bringing those multiple mistakes before God doesn’t make them holy mistakes. It just has me playing lousy in a sacred space. God does, after all, hear me when I’m playing at home. (Maybe He wishes He didn’t.) Yesterday, though, I wanted to bring it to Him.


  1. Elizabeth D.

    Have you ever seen the show “Touched by an Angel”? I haven’t in years, honestly, but I do remember in one episode when one of the angels wanted to sing for God, but felt self-concious because she had such a bad singing voice. Another of the angels said something like, “God said to lift a joyful noise… he didn’t say it had to be beautiful!”

    I think God loves your guitar playing because He loves you, even in all your imperfection. The same way we as parents can love scribbled drawings our kids make for us, simply because they were the ones who made it. 🙂

  2. cricketB

    My denomination is known for it’s lack of musical ability — and its enthusiastic choirs! You’re right about a quiet time, out of respect for those who need a quiet moment in the sanctuary. Otherwise, if if you’re called, then do it. Be true to yourself. Besides, G might be trying to convince someone who needs to hear you play to show up at the same time.

    There’s a modern Shabbat prayer said over the kids:

    (Three months ago, Google gave it immediately. Today, it has two pages of the traditional one. I need to spend a few years in my minister’s library.)

    Be who you are –
    and may you be blessed
    in all that you are.

    That includes playing violin the way you play it.

    When people hear I take singing lessons (my mid-life crisis), they ask me if I sing well. No, that’s why I’m taking lessons. As far as performing in public? My teacher, my family, those stuck in the same pew, my storytelling buddy who studies voice to help with her asthma rather than to learn to sing, and, once, the examiner.

  3. cricketB

    Also, our music director gives lessons in the sanctuary. What’s for God not to like? People enjoying themselves and improving themselves.

  4. Janet Sunderland

    All mistakes are holy mistakes…they teach you to aim better.