In Random Neural Firings, Thoughts on Writing

Some people assume because I write choral music I must have served as a church music minister.  I have not.  Ever.  I was never into the ministry.  Those who know me well realize this is a very good thing.  I am not cut out to be a minister of any stripe, particularly a choir director.  However, I did feel a powerful leading into music as a teen-ager.

Somewhere around the age of sixteen, I simply knew I was to be a musician.  (I marvel at that statement, realizing now I knew absolutely nothing at age sixteen.)  And being a good Southern Baptist Bible-believer, I was supremely confident if God wanted me to be a musician, I would be blessed with a smooth-sailing, worry-free career as a world-class professional drummer.

Hahahahahahahahaha.

None of that happened.  At all.  Not the drummer part. And certainly not the smooth-sailing, worry-free part.  The life of every free-lance musician is filled with days (weeks and months, sometimes) that make him question his choice to have ever joined the 6th-grade orchestra.  Despite plenty of those times (and they continue to come), I still believe I was led to a life in music.

So why has it been so difficult?  Why were there so many months as a young music producer in Texas that I could barely pay the mortgage?  Why did less deserving songwriters get cuts on records instead of me?  Why? Why? Why?

Or should that be whine, whine, whine?

At one particularly low point in my career, I mused to a friend that maybe I misheard God’s call to be a musician.  “Maybe God said magician, not musician.”  Who knows?  I could’ve been another David Copperfield.

I don’t think so.

I think I heard the Call of the Creator correctly.  (I am still hoping I am right about that.)  But i was slow to appreciate  how hard it would be to stick with it for four-plus decades.  Successes have often been frustratingly few and far between.  (Again with the whining?)  And the call to a life in music was fluid., leading to a career path with a lot of bends and turns.  The dream to be a world-class drummer somehow morphed into arranging, which became songwriting, which led to all sorts of other creative writing.  It can be exciting to enter a new creative arena, but every change in focus brings a new learning curve.  More setbacks.  Different obstacles.

In my teaching, I encounter students frustrated that music is not finacially rewarding their efforts.  Believe me, I know the feeling.  Making a living in music, Christian music in particular, has never been more difficult.  Perhaps you are wondering why your songs aren’t getting the attention they deserve.  Or is it your singing that isn’t being noticed by the masses?  Maybe you, too, are wondering, “Did God say magician?”  If so, remember:

* Whether writing, playing or singing, music should be its own reward.
* Even the smallest success can be reason for celebration.
* Pursuing a career in the arts is not for the faint of heart.

Because these days, if you are pursuing music to make big money, you probably would be better off saying, “Abracadabra.”

 

Comments
  • Ed Rush
    Reply

    Thanks Robert, I need these reminders every day concerning my song writing. I made it through fifty one years of serving as a Minister of Music, and even with the problems that come with the calling, there were rewards along the way.
    You may be interested to know (or not) that I have re-started our community group, the Demopolis Singers, and we will be doing “The Very First Christmas Morn” in our Christmas program.

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