Sitting with 8 other musicians in the front of the church, I hear the minister say to the congregation, “Please rise and join me in prayer to honor the soul of Charlene.” She then looks straight back at me and the other musicians, extending the invitation.
“Stand up!” my spirit tells me.
“STAY SEATED!” says the veteran wedding musician within.
I was such a fool. I did not stand, nor did anyone else within the ensemble. None of us were willing to engage in the simple act of standing to honor the passing of an esteemed colleague.
How many other musicians are out there, wondering when and how it was decided that it isn’t appropriate to respectfully acknowledge spirit expressed in ceremony? That it simply isn’t done?
Everyone sitting in the pews, whether a member of the church congregation or not, usually stands when asked, at least mumbles something during a responsive prayer, and may even make a half-hearted attempt to sing. Finding themselves in the midst of others, social courtesy and peer pressure usually win out.
But behind the music stands a different peer pressure rules.
The members of a musical ensemble exempt themselves, even in the small act of standing for a prayer or benediction. We as musicians have become unwilling to literally stand up for anything spiritual, it seems.
If I had chosen to stand, I would have made others in my ensemble uncomfortable, or have been the only one standing. Either way, the Jewish musician to my left might have felt extremely put out.
But you know what? I think I need to become an ambassador for the universal spiritual church of music, whose members choose to:
1. honor spirit in any ceremony in which they find themselves.
2. enter into the spirit of prayer and song, regardless of belief.
3. add energy to that of the assembled congregation, acting as universal spiritual agents regardless of systems of personal belief.
4. be spiritual wild cards, blending in and honoring the spirit of different religions without having to agree on dogma.
Think about it – we as musicians add sublime vibration to every ceremony we play. If we are willing to admit that the spirit of our music has meaning, why are we unwilling to recognize that same universal spirit present in ceremony?
If I could live today over again, you’d find me standing to honor an esteemed colleague. I’m ready to start honoring spirit and bucking convention.
O, my fellow musicians, is anyone out there with me?