When I think about beginning to write this blog, I realize there are thousands upon thousands of other blogs out there on every subject from raising children to politics to how to plant a garden…you name it!! The last thing we need is another blog, you might say! I would quite agree with you if this were going to be some “bland blog” with little cutesy phrases and trite comments, but I want it to be meaningful, not a rant from some disgruntled person who is just venting. I want to truly explore some of the trends in music, worship from a Biblical perspective, church music through the ages, and my own personal experiences with music and worship; I think I am well qualified to do this. So, with that said, let me give you a little background about me, some things I don’t think very many people know. Perhaps if you get to know me a little, we can then explore some trends, both positive and negative, in music during the past decades and have some pertinent dialogue. Bear with me; the entire blog will not be about me!
I’ve been involved in music literally all of my life! Born in a suburb of Los Angeles, a child of the ’50’s and ’60’s, a “baby boomer”, I attended a large non-denominational church in downtown L.A. where my mom was one of the pianists and my dad was head usher in the balcony! Sort of cute, huh? It was a converted old theater, very ornate, and the worship was quite lively, as Pentecostal/Charismatic churches of that era were. My maternal grandfather was a gifted musician who also worked in the iron ore mines of Northern Minnesota. He had played for dances to earn extra income and I was told he could play any instrument well, “by ear”…especially the harmonica and accordian, and was an excellent dancer! Apparently my mom inherited his “gift” because she, too, could play by ear with embellishments added to any common church song, and also taught herself, for the most part, to read notes and play classical music. I was in awe of her talent, and wanted to play the piano more than anything in the world from the time I was a toddler. When I was a baby my mom said that when I was fussy she would just put me by the piano as she played, and I would stop crying! I guess you couldn’t keep me off the piano, for when I was four she started giving me piano lessons. Later, when I was seven, I took a couple of years of accordian lessons at a music studio in the L.A. area. Accordians “rocked” back then, but later they were not as “trendy” (I thought only “nerds” played them), so, of course, I decided to switch back to the piano again!
My folks had met at a Lutheran Bible college in L.A. They had even been personal workers at Billy Graham’s first campaign in the L.A. area! With a deep hunger for God, they began attending many meetings of well-known evangelists that would come to Southern California and that is how they came to attend the downtown church. At age three I sang my first solo in our church and to my mother’s horror, I actually threw the heavy microphone down on the floor (so I was told) when the pastor’s wife handed it to me; I have no recollection of this!! 🙂 I guess the pastor’s wife said something like, “Well, I guess she doesn’t need it anyway!” I really wasn’t a brat; I just had never sung with a mic before! So very embarrassing!! I guess my mom was a real “stage mother” and wanted to get her little girl noticed, because I made several records (old 78’s) when I was four, five and nine years old. If she hadn’t been so devoted to spiritual things and the Lord’s work, I think she would have made regular trips to Hollywood to see if her daughter might not be the next Shirley Temple! 🙂 Thank goodness, that never happened and later we moved to my dad’s hometown in North Dakota where he pastored several churches. I was still taking lessons and honing my skills at the piano.
I have said all of this to make a point: God had His Hand on me all along, as He does on you, and nothing is by accident! Through taking accordian lessons, I learned how chords are formed and move, their patterns in music and how to chord and play any song by understanding certain principles. In my childlike mind this all made perfect sense, and later God used this knowledge to help me teach many, many gifted church pianists and musicians how to chord and improvise when I had my teaching studio for almost 30 years! I also came to see patterns and trends in church music that developed over the years. I’ve so much to say on the subject, but will begin more of this in my next edition. Trust me, I have only just begun! Plese sign up to receive my blog in your inbox if you are interested in music and worship. I welcome your comments!