Upcoming Performances

April 26
8:00 pm Eastern

Collaborative Organist, ASU University Singers, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

April 27
3:00 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Kingsport, Tenn.

May 5
4:00 pm Central

Guest recitalist, St. Paul's Cathedral, Des Moines, Iowa

July 18
10:00 am Eastern

Collaborative Organist, Organ/Brass concert, William Adam International Trumpet Festival, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

August 25
3:00 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, Church of the Savior, Newland, N.C.

September 17
8:00 pm Eastern

Faculty recital, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

December 13
12:15 pm Eastern

Music at Midday, National City Christian Church, Washington, D.C.

June 21-26, 2020
Worship Organist, Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, Lake Junaluska, N.C.

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Playing when no one is listening

Long ago, I stopped playing for wedding receptions and dinner parties. I can’t stand playing when no one is listening. When I was a kid, I would be asked to play something for company in the house. With the first notes, the conversation in the room would pick up and grow from there. But I wanted to be listened to, rather than be background noise for foreground noise.

Some people don’t feel complete unless something, anything, is playing in the background. In many restaurants, there is muzak playing for the clientele, while the kitchen has a little radio playing different music for the crew. Sometimes I find a louder, third type of music being played in the restroom. Muzak is played in church to cover up some action or silence. Many church preludes turn into little more than, “Your attention, please” for the announcements that follow. We have ‘traveling music’ in weddings, during which time the wedding party makes its way up the chancel steps for vows and rings. Out of sheer petulance, I once played slow, ecclesiastical renditions of popular cartoon songs for traveling music during a gala event in a new church gym that everyone hated. No one noticed.

Perhaps we have gotten too used to having music all around us, but music does not belong in the background. It seems that everyone walks around with earphones on. No one seems to want to listen to birds in trees or even to talk to another human being while they walk or jog. Even students show up late to class because they were searching for something to listen to while they walked 100 yards to class. Can we really not walk across a room or drive a quarter-mile without something playing in the background? And yet, how many of us can remember WHAT we were listening to the last time we drove a car or took a walk? Are we becoming numb to all the glorious music available to us at every turn?

How long did it take you to notice that Christmas songs were being played in department stores at Halloween? I had made many visits to a certain Chick Fil-A before I realized the rock/love ballad music I thought they were playing was actually Christian music. Here is an example in the other direction: I once walked into Wal-Mart and immediately sensed that something was amiss. Twenty minutes passed before I realized that the store stereo system was broken; there was NO music playing. All I had heard during that time was the hum of fluorescent lights and the squeaks of shopping carts, but it took a while to figure that out. Imagine walking into Disneyworld and not hearing music coming from the speakers hidden in trees and bushes and walls. You’d probably notice that. But what WAS playing from those trees and bushes the last time you visited Disneyworld?

Is the presence, rather than the substance, of music now more important to us? Should music really be used as something we’re not supposed to notice unless it’s missing? Music is more glorious than this, folks. Let’s try to listen to it more carefully rather than more often. When the batteries are dead and the clouds are blocking the satellite, the sound of a babbling brook or a friend’s voice just might be the most glorious music on earth.

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