Follow by Email

Monday, January 20, 2014

Improvisation...my love as well as my doom?

For those of you who don't know, I recently joined an ensemble called Jazz Combo.  This is a very small group of individuals who read music for the main theme of a jazz tune and then improvise off of the chord structure.  I decided to join this almost on the spur of the moment because I discovered that I really loved improvising.  However, I think that it can better be described as classical improvisation that is up my alley as after being in class for ten minutes I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about jazz improv and was getting killed by the three saxophonists I was creating music with.  Not exactly the best feeling in the world.

I walked out of class that day completely overwhelmed and almost in tears from embarrassment.

The next class period was better; I felt a little more confident in one solo but that was short lived.  I still walked out of class unsure of why I was there and unwilling to look my saxophone friends in the eyes.

Later, however, in a conversation with my roommate later, I came to a realization.  When you look at my MBTI results, I am an ENFJ by two points one judging scales.  That doesn't mean I'm a judgmental person, although I know I have my moments where I can be.  Instead, according to the MBTI tests, judgers are those who like to have schedules and everything organized while perceivers are more of the "go with the flow" kind of people.  When I took the test for my freshman class last year, I had only two points on the judging scale, indicating to me that I could really go either way.

It's the same way with music.  I love having structure; sheet music to follow and learn but at the same time I like having the freedom to do what I want with the music.  That's what I've found jazz music is.  You follow the main melody for a while and then you break off and play whatever you want within that chord or scales relating to the chord.  Maybe this is why I have always enjoyed listening to jazz music.

Improvisation is going to help me grow so much as a musician, but it's going to take a lot of work on my part to become comfortable with all of the details with jazz music.  Sometimes I wonder why I got myself into this, but then I remember my love for jazz and improv and that I will really benefit from it.  So I shall press on!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What an Awesome God

One of my favorite passages of Scriptures is Psalm 107:33-36.

He turned the rivers into a desert,
flowing springs into thirsty ground,
and fruitful land into a salt waste,
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
He turned the desert into pools of water 
and the parched ground into flowing springs;
there He brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle.

Before you read on, go back and read those verses again.  What do you see?  What is this saying to you?  What does it mean to you?  

To me, these three verses are painting a stunningly vivid picture of the power of God.  Our God is so awesome and powerful that He can make the rivers into something so dry.  He can take a fruitful land wither and die away until it is nothing of use.  But He can also take something so dry and fill it with water to bless the whole land.  He can change the very make up of an environment with His words because of the wickedness or the hunger of the people there.  

I shiver at this power.  But it's not just in a physical sense that He does this.  God can take a religious individual and dry up their spirit because of their wickedness and their defiance so that they can see how much they truly need God and how blessed they were when He showed himself in the way that so many long for him.  He can take someone who is lost and dry and give them life.  He can pour himself into someone who is so hungry for God that they overflow; a parched ground turned into a flowing spring.

This is my God that I love.  Take a moment to revel in the beauty of Him.