[NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC]
NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC
NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC
VOL 11, NO 1, Spring, 2009
© 2009 Copyright of David E. Smith Publications
All Rights Reserved. Made in U.S.A.
Preach Christ Always
And As A Last Resort
St. Francis of Assisi
THE PUBLISHER'S SPACE
by David E. Smith
In this time of economic downturns around the world and across the country we are very appreciative of all of you who are consistent patrons of our products and services. Our goal is provide you with solos and ensembles in all idioms as well as large group and mix-n-match arrangements of all levels.
We are offering several new pieces for Easter from DESPUB… "Were You There?" is a string quartet by Dana F. Everson written at a level 3 and priced at $10.50 (#169420). There is an optional part for viola (violin 3).
"Sacred Head" is a concert band piece written by Billy Madison written at a level 3 and priced at $40.00 (#182915), it is based on "O Sacred Head Now Wounded." Secondly, from Light of The World Music is a full orchestra piece, "Cross and Glory" by Lawrence Mumford written at a level 4 and priced at $50.00 (#LWOT815). Scored for fl 1,2, ob 1,2, bassn, cl 1,2, trp 1,2,3, hn 1,2, tromb 1,2, tuba, timp, perc=(bells,mar, SD, BD, cym), vln 1,2, vla, ce, str bass, synth string reduction. "Ain'a That Good News" & "Were You There?" Thirdly, is a book entitled "Hymn Histories" by Alfred B. Smith. A collection of 115 favorite hymns and Gospel songs and the stories behind their writing. It is a hard cover book elegantly bound and will prove to be an excellent resource for service planning or personal enrichment. Product #HHBK and priced at $35.00 and can be found by searching "books" and "Al Smith Ministries" on www.churchmusic.biz.
It has been mentioned in the past couple of issues about developing many of our publications in Smart Music. BUT, they aren’t available yet! However, we have a development team working on them now and look forward to the time when we can announce that they are here!
We will present them in several formats depending what is appropriate to the piece:
1. Assessment files, for pieces that are easier and most likely to be used in educational settings or personal practice—these are for solo and exercise pieces.
2. Ensemble files, which will allow you to select what instrument part you want to turn off and then play along with. These files will be developed for pieces of various levels and idioms.
3. Intelligent Accompaniment, files will be developed for solos at a higher difficulty level that will include more markers and flexibility. Some pieces may be presen-ted with multiple files types where deemed appropriate or expected. We have yet to release our marketing strategies but they will likely use web site downloads or CD formats.
Speaking of web sites. We have just added hundreds of new “pdf” links on both of our web sites, www.despub.com and www.churchmusic.biz especially in the Easter classifications. With other seasons and special days upcoming you can search on www.churchmusic.biz for pieces that are designed for patriotic or wedding venues. Just go to “Search the Catalog” and select classification and then the holiday type you are looking for.
Right now we are working on some new genres even though we have most all areas covered. But, we will keep you posted in future issues of “Lines and Spaces®” and the “What’s New” menu on our web sites.
Also, for those of you who attend conferences where we exhibit, you will notice that we have redesigned the configuration of our product offerings with the hope that it will make your browsing, selecting and purchasing an easier experience. Again, your patronage is appreciated at any level.
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by Phil Norris
On Arranging Ewazen’s Sonata for Trumpet as a Concerto
Earlier this month (February 2009), my wife and I flew to temperate Memphis from frigid Minneapolis to attend the premier of my concerto arrangement of Eric Ewazen’s Sonata for Trumpet. Eric was present for this occasion, and we had a wonderful time together with the Memphis Symphony, and its principal trumpeter, Scott Moore.
The work was the result of an answer to prayer a couple of years ago. I was coming up on a sabbatical opportunity and had little idea how I might spend the time. All I knew was that I needed the break for a semester and I wanted to do something that would benefit others as well as the college. Shortly after that prayer the thought occurred to me to get a copy of the Ewazen Sonata since I had heard bits and pieces of it and liked what I heard. I remember vividly the day in January, 2006, when the music arrived. I opened it and began to play—it was as if this was my very musical heart. As I worked on the piece more and listened to a recording, orchestral colors seemed to come to mind for the piano part. Before I knew it, it was apparent that this would be my sabbatical project, though it was another year and a half away. I couldn’t wait.
No sooner had the Spring semester class grades been posted than I sat down and wrote Eric for permission. He was happy to have me proceed but referred me to the publisher, Southern Music, who granted permission to do the work. I also secured a copy of a concert band setting of the work to see what sort of ideas that arranger had written.
I began in earnest that summer and completed the second movement in about a month, all the while sending Eric drafts for his inspection. The second movement is a beautiful Celtic dance with a chorale imbedded in the last third of the movement. Eric had stated that this chorale was the centerpiece of the entire work, and as such I wanted to create a reverential effect, and so it was given first to the winds and a pair of horns followed by low strings accompanying the trumpet prior to a return of the opening theme as the movement closes.
The first movement, the most pianistic of the sonata, came next near the end of the summer. With Eric’s blessing and many prayers for wisdom, I altered many of the piano figures to suit the orchestral instruments. After about a half dozen attempts and working with a local violist on the core accompanying string material, I believe I came up with something that seemed to work. I would describe work on this movement using the words of “Amazing Grace”: through many dangers, toils and snares. With the advent of the Fall semester the work went on hold and was taken up again over Christmas and Spring breaks, and was finally completed just after the semester ended.
The third movement began on the heels of completing the second. With what I had learned from the first two movements, the third went fairly quickly and smoothly, yet not without considerable prayer for many specific challenges and choices.
Once the core material of the score was completed, I refined the finishing touches of harp and percussion parts, spending at least twenty hours alone on the harp part with the help of a local harpist in order to have the part player-ready. That effort paid off in the talking with the Memphis harpist who was very pleased with the part. The entire work was completed, including all 30 parts, by the end of July 2007.
St. Olaf College in southern Minnesota played the second and third movements on its Spain tour last May (2008) and helped in improving the work by catching some errors and improving some voicings and string bowings. The first movement was not realized until this month in Memphis. The orchestra and guest conductor made some helpful suggestions for fine-tuning the piece. Those improvements will be made very soon and put into the rental parts and score now available from the publisher.
Eric had not heard the score in its entirety and then only on recording. After hearing the first movement, he exclaimed, “Wow!” Later he asked about where some of the ideas had come from. I have to admit that I didn’t answer him completely at that time, but later I explained that all the ideas he found colorful or interesting were answers to prayer. I thought it was interesting that a non-believing composer-musician would describe the central moment in his original piece as a chorale. Eric has also written some other religious works (one example, “Prayer & Praise” for trumpet and piano). But from what I know, he does not profess any particular faith, so I hoped he would be open to God’s role in this work.
I reflected on this more this past week, and it occurred to me that all this music-making business will someday pass away, and the joy or beauty of it will fade with time. What then is the point of all the effort, all the practice, all the care and attention to detail? The psalmist said, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” It’s my prayer (and would you join me?) that God would be pleased and exalted by this work and that some testimony of His salvation might accompany this work wherever He chooses to use it, to His praise and glory. Amen.
Phil Norris is Professor of Music at Northwestern College in St. Paul MN and has taught trumpet there since 1993. He holds the DMA from the University of Minnesota, MM/Trumpet, Northwestern University and the BME from Grace College. He is also a musician, teacher and elder in his local church.
THE LONE ARRANGER'S SPACE
by Dana F. Everson
A Subtle Hazard for Instrumentalists
Friends: Every time we enter the arena of presenting music for worship we are faced with numerous potential pitfalls from within and from without. I have stumbled upon one often understated threat parallel to keyboardists, instrumentalists, and arrangers to which I would like to alert you.
Here it is:
It is oh so easy for us to passively allow the words of the hymns to slide by and put the spotlight mostly on the musical techniques! “How clever is that little descant I just added above GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS!” I say to myself. “What a neat countermelody I have here to LIKE A RIVER GLORIOUS”, I muse proudly. “I hope (secretly) that everyone noticed my fine chord substitutions in AS THE DEER!” “Wow. I am really something: that ornamentation and embellishment I just played/wrote was probably never thought of before…by anyone else…ever!”…and so on.*
Question: What is awry?
Answer: I am focusing on musical elaborations and techniques (and there certainly is a place for creativity, imagination, and skilled technique), but how well do I know the text, the words of the hymn? Have I made an attempt to highlight the truths of the words first in my own heart and then in the playing or arranging process? Have I attempted to wed the instrumental colors to the meanings of the text? Have I attempted to bring the listeners/congregation closer to the Lord by clearly and honestly presenting the linguistic message carefully and thoughtfully? Am I treating the word paintings and analogies given in the poetry of the lyrics appropriately or am I simply going for some breed of "musical buzz"? This is a delicate and personal issue which each of us should resolve before we present our musical offerings to the Lord and for the encouragement of others.
Sacred music is essentially text-based music. I must never forget that as I use melody, harmony, form, color, and rhythm to give support, depth, atmosphere, and emphasis to the text. Am I familiar with more than the first verse of the song? Am I arranging/playing with the words in mind or only the musical performance? When I step away from the keyboard and sing as part of the church congregation, do I find myself struggling to get the words right on hymns and songs that I have played for years? When I play the second or third stanza of a hymn for congregational singing do I play with variety only because it’s the “thing to do” or am I aware of the intended meaning and emphasis of the words in those other stanzas?
Arrangers, instrumentalists, and keyboardists beware. In your preparations and practice, do not NEGLECT the text, rather RESPECT the text. Become a close friend of every piece that passes through your musical mind by first passing it through your spiritual heart. Hymns and gospel songs are musically organic; the words are not meant to be decapitated from their musical environment. Nor are the hymn tunes (as instrumental pieces) going to minister properly without at least some association with the words. Keep your arranging and playing whole. This will be a great help in making your arranging and playing a spiritual success, not merely a musical success.
*(We have looked at the menace of pride in a previous article, so the focus here has more to do with a balance problem which can end up robbing our listeners/congregations of a richer blessing from the music.)
Dana F. Everson holds: Associate of Arts--Delta College, the BME and Master’s in Saxophone Performance--Michigan State, Master of Sacred Music--Pensacola Christian College, and the Doctor of Sacred Ministry--Northland Baptist Bible College, with additional music studies at the University of Michigan and the California Institute of the Arts. He has over 350 published works.
by Harlow E. Hopkins, Editor
When We'd Like the Cross to Be Just for Jesus Text: Mark 8:34-38
Leaving the Cross
In August of 2003, the Church of the Holy Cross in New York City was broken into twice. In the first event, thieves made away with a metal moneybox that had been resting next to a votive candle rack. Three weeks later, vandals escaped with something much more valuable. They unbolted a 4-foot long, 200-pound plaster Jesus from a meditation area, taking the statue of Christ, but leaving behind his wooden cross on the wall. The church caretaker, David St. James, confessed his bewilderment at this. "They just decided, 'We're going to leave the cross and take Jesus,'" he said. "We don't know why they took just him. We figure if you want the crucifix, you take the whole crucifix."1 If you want Jesus, you take his cross too.
It's a bit embarrassing to admit this, but there is something in me that understands the choice of those thieves. How about you? I like the figure of Jesus. I like the clever and compassionate way he treated people. I admire the clarity and balance of his ethical teaching. I love his stories. The character of Christ seems to me the ideal of health and wholeness toward which I want my family and me to grow more and more. I think the whole world would be better if more of us lived Christ's way. And by almost every research study I read, there are apparently millions of us—even those of us who hardly ever darken the door of a church or who have serious questions about God—who nonetheless are quite attracted to the figure of Jesus.
His cross, now that's a little more complicated. Some of us frankly prefer not to get too close to that. I mean, is there not enough violence, blood, and cruelty in this world? Hasn't religion too often gotten wrapped up in the same, even perpetrating that kind of horror in the name of God? Who wants to associate Jesus with that sort of thing? I can appreciate that sentiment. I'm going to come back to that issue when we gather here on Good Friday. We're going to talk about the blood.
But, you know, there's another good reason why I'm inclined to just take Jesus and leave that cross up on that wall, and maybe you can relate. There are times when I just want to look at it. When I take in there what Jesus did for me, what he suffered there for me, it fills me with awe and gratitude. I don't fully understand why Jesus would voluntarily choose to die on a cross to pay the price for my sins. But along with millions of Christians around the world, I've often thought: "Thank God, that Jesus died on the cross, so that we wouldn't have to." And on one level, it's true, this thing Christians say: "Jesus died on the cross so we wouldn't have to." In 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, the Apostle Paul said: "1 want to remind you of the good news 1 preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved... that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures."
Again, we'll talk more about this in several weeks, but what the apostle is describing here is what theologians have called the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. It's the conviction that Jesus voluntarily substituted himself in the place of punishment that should have been ours because of our sin. He threw himself in front of evil's bullet, so that we wouldn't be destroyed by it. He pushed us out of the path of the judgment thundering down upon us because of our sin and took the full blow himself. The one innocent Being in the Universe said to the divine court, "Your honor, I'll be executed in their place. Let them go."
This is the towering mystery around which Christ-followers all across the globe and history have united. "Amazing love, how can it be, that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?" I hope you've taken that in. I hope you've accepted this by faith or will today. Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice worthy and weighty enough to cancel the debt of your sin and mine. He made it possible for any of us who put our trust in him to finally be "at-one" with God. He made possible this at-onement, this atonement. Jesus died on the cross so that we would not have to.
Lifting the Cross
Yes, there are some good reasons why someone might choose to take Jesus but leave the cross on the wall. You might do it because you don't want to get too near his blood. You might do it because you so honor his blood. But there's another reason why any of us might leave the cross right where it stands. We might do it, because we don't want to shed any of our own blood. We like the figure of Jesus. We like being forgiven people. But we are not sure we want to follow this Jesus, or be formed by this Jesus, if that means taking up our own cross ourselves.
And it does. It does. Please listen very carefully to this and give a nudge to your neighbor so that they don't miss it, because it gets missed a lot. Forgiveness of sin and eternal life comes through accepting what Jesus did on HIS cross. But truly following Jesus, truly being formed into the image of Jesus and knowing his abundant life, which comes through accepting what we must do with OUR cross. Hear the words of Jesus himself recorded in Mark 8:34-38. "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."
Some years ago I heard a message by Rev. Peter Hiett, which was provocatively titled—"Marriage: A Sneaky Way to Get a Person Crucified."2 At first the title seemed crazy to me. What in the world does marriage have to do with crucifixion? And then I thought about it, and I realized the answer: A lot. You don't sign up for marriage because you're thrilled about the prospect of learning to deny yourself or losing your old way of life. You don't go into it thinking, "Oh good, this is going to be really hard... It's going to be very painful at times... I'll get to make some really demanding sacrifices. Thank goodness, I'll finally get to a place where my character defects are nailed and my selfishness gets flogged. I'll be in such extremity at times that I'll only have God to lean on and sometimes wonder where even he has gone."
Nobody goes into marriage or parenting or old age or a lot of the other big experiences and covenants of life because they are eager to take up a cross. Who would voluntarily sign up for a summer camp whose symbol was a giant mosquito? "Come to Camp Stinger. Your blood is our business!" Sometimes, when I listen to the way of Jesus, it seems just that crazy. Turn the other cheek? Pray for those who persecute me? Forbid myself not just to touch lustfully but to even look lustfully? Visit the criminal in prison? Give my hard-earned money to the beggar? No way! If s unrealistic. If s overly demanding. It would be VERY hard to walk that way in life.
Loving the Cross
Jesus implies in his teaching in Mark 8 that perceiving how hard and counter-cultural his way is, we might actually become "ashamed of his words." We might come to dilute, diminish, or domesticate his teaching. A.W. Tozer, one of the finest Christian leaders of the last century, became very concerned that this is exactly what had happened to American discipleship in the 1930s and 40s: "We live in a spiritually troubled time in history," wrote Tozer. "Christianity has gone over to the jingle-bell crowd." By that he meant that Christianity had become mainly regarded as a path of cordiality and modest charity, a sort of indulgent Christmas cheer.
Tozer goes on: "Everyone is just delighted that Jesus has done all of the sorrowing, all of the suffering, all of the dying."3 This is, of course, not a new syndrome. Writing way back in the 5th Century A.D., Augustine of Hippo—one of the greatest minds in the world at that time wrote: "It is necessary to die, but nobody wants to... We want to reach the kingdom of God, but we don't want to travel by way of death. And yet there stands Necessity saying: This way, please.'"4
It is crucial to remember that Christ's purpose in calling us to take up our cross is that we might live more fully. He calls us to die to our old selves that his self—his heart, soul, mind, and strength—might come more fully alive in us. This is the whole context of his words to his disciples in Mark chapter 8. Jesus is almost begging his followers not to trade down in life, thinking that they're trading up. Don't buy into this "gain the whole world," more-for-me mentality that is the human rage in every century. You'll "forfeit [your] soul," your shot at the most real and renewing kind of life.
Here's the blunt truth: If our goal is to be like Jesus, we must do what few people naturally do, what only those compelled by a call from beyond themselves ever do. We must choose the Cross Road. We must go the way of foolishness in the eyes of the world. We must deny and die to the very self that we are constantly being told to coddle, preserve, and expand. That is what I am inviting us to reflect on together in these weeks of Lent to come. We're going to look at some specific places—some familiar life situations—where each of us has the option to get on or off the Cross Road.
Taking that Cross Road requires some conscious steps. FIRST, we have to make a decision as to whether we really do want to come after Christ. After all there are other models and plenty of other pathways. How much do you really want to be like Jesus? If you decide you do want to pursue the way of Jesus, then, SECONDLY, accept right here that progressive death is required, not for Jesus anymore, but now for you. Your self has to die more and more that Christ's self might come alive more and more in you. And THIRDLY, you have to start down that road and resolve not to turn back even when it gets very hard — it will be. Crucifixion isn't painless or quick. But the outcome, the new life Jesus makes possible, is worth every groan.
I've been married for 18 years now. I've been a parent for almost 15 years. I've been a pastor here for nearly 10. I've been a stumbling disciple of Jesus for almost 30 years now. And you know what, these commitments have been killing me—and therein lays my hope. I am praying toward that day when I can truly say with the Apostle Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."5
Where are the Cross Roads ahead for you? What needs to be crucified, dead, and buried in you? At what intersections in coming days will you need to make a conscious choice if you want to remain in the company of Jesus or know the fullness of his life? Are you like those thieves in the story I told at the start? Do you think you can have a crossless Christianity—that Jesus has done all the dying necessary? Or are you ready to take the next step to more fully follow Him? Jeremiah 6:16 reads: "This is what the LORD says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."' What an adventure we have in front of us as we embark on the pathway together.
Please pray with me...
Lord, you bid us come and die that we may truly live. Give us courage to take the next step, to get on the cross road, to stay on the cross road, until that which feels like dying comes to feel more and more like living and your life in all of its fruitful splendor is formed in us for the fulfillment of our calling, the blessing of others, and the glory of your name. In Jesus we pray. Amen.
1. .Andrea Elliott, "Thieves Take Figure of Jesus, but Not the Cross," New York Times (8-25-03). Thanks to Greg Asima-koupoulos, Naperville, Illinois, for this citation.
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2. .Peter Hiett, Lookout Mountain Community Church, Golden CO, March 2, 1997.
3. .A.W. Tozer, Men Who Met God
4. .Augustine of Hippo, Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations (Baker, 2000), p. 251
5. .Galatians 2:20
Daniel D. Meyer / © Christ Church of Oak Brook / 2-25-06 (The above sermon is printed with the permission of Dr. Meyer. Editor)
by Billy Madison
The Forte-Piano Roll
(Some General Concepts)
The forte-piano dynamic is a very effective technique that can really add interest to a musical composition. However, it presents a variety of technical problems that are instrument specific. The way it is performed by strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion is completely different and even each individual instrument within each group requires specific techniques.
This is especially true for the percussion section since it contains such a wide variety of instruments that are played with so many different apparatuses (i.e. sticks, mallets, beaters, hands, etc.) The instrument may even require a different technique for each apparatus that is used.
Another reason different percussion instruments require different techniques has to do with the various rates of sound decay. The rate of sound decay for the snare drum, woodblock, bongos, xylophone, etc is very rapid whereas the sound decay for the timpani, suspended cymbal, gong, triangle, etc. is much slower. This especially matters at the start of the forte-piano roll.
Generally, instruments with a slow sound decay begin with a hard loud stroke followed by a slight pause and then the roll starts softly and crescendos. The length of the pause is determined by how long the note remains loud. The roll should begin very softly in such a way that the listener cannot tell when it actually starts. Instruments with fast sound decay require the roll to begin softly immediately after the initial loud stroke. The technique of the roll should simply be that which is appropriate for each individual instrument (i.e. single stroke or double stroke.)
Always make certain that the effect of the forte-piano roll sounds natural and not forced. It can add so much variety to a composition and is fairly easy for the percussion section to perform. As always, adequate practice is required for the technique to be properly developed, but it is well worth while.
Billy Madison has taught instrumental music in the Arkansas Public Schools for 20 years. He holds both the BME in Instrumental Music and the MM in Music Theory and Composition from Arkansas State University. He studied composition with Jared Spears and Tom O’Connor. Madison has played percussion with the Northeast Arkansas Symphony since 1978.
"Life can be miserable, horrible beyond enduring, the pits. But the secret of grace is that it can be all right at the center even when it's all wrong on the edges. For at the center where life is open to the Creator and Savior God, we are held, led, loved, cared for and inseparably bound into the future that he has for every child that he claims as his." Dr. Lewis Smedes
If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and it is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.
The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.
A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.
In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up! Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, But faith looks up!
A Rare Book
A collector of rare books ran into an acquaintance who told him he had just thrown away an old Bible that he found in a dusty, old box. He happened to mention that Guten-somebody-or-other had printed it.
"Not Gutenberg?" Gasped the collector.
"Yes, that was it!"
"You idiot! You've thrown away one of the first books ever printed.
A copy recently sold at an auction for half a million dollars!"
"Oh, I don't think this book would have been worth anything close to that much," replied the man. "It was scribbled all over in the margins by some guy named Martin Luther."
Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, But faith looks up!
Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly and trust in our Creator who loves us.
by Jay-Martin Pinner
Musings and Ponderings...
The Joy of Teaching Rediscovered
In God’s Providence we are powerfully reminded of what we have through His allowing us to lose it if only temporarily. Such was the case last fall when just weeks after starting a private string teaching studio I found myself on a gurney in the emergency room of a local hospital. I knew that I was in serious trouble when, after noting my symptoms the attending ER nurse looked at me comfortingly and said, “Don’t worry. Everything is going to be alright.”
I have taught violin, viola, cello and double bass students for over 30 years. Like most of my colleagues I was not terribly dismayed if one of my students missed a lesson due to illness or a schedule conflict. While I knew that a make-up lesson would need to be rescheduled another day the hole in today’s schedule always provided a much-needed opportunity to catch up on paperwork or finish preparations to teach a string literature or string pedagogy class. At times the joy of teaching string students seemed to fade simply because I was busy trying to teach so many string students!
After many wonderful years of teaching at Bob Jones University I began setting up a private string studio in town. My wife and I prayed earnestly that God would send string students my way. As those prayers were answered nearly every student that started lessons with me came with a story that confirmed that they were sent Providentially.
A local violin shop, operating from a historic house built in 1911, allowed me to teach in a room the owners made available until I found a commercial property to lease.
I thoroughly enjoyed climbing the beautiful wooden staircase to my studio each day. Alarmingly I was also out of breath and experiencing excruciating swelling in my feet and legs. On many days between lessons I would lie on my back on the floor and prop my feet up on a chair desperate for a few minutes of relief.
I drank water by the gallon thinking that I needed to keep my body flushed with liquids to help the swelling. I was so tired at the end of each day that it became laborious simply to drive home. Of course going to a doctor was out of the question! I had not been to a doctor in my entire adult life!
(My extreme phobias about needles and hospitals may have originated with some not-so-pleasant experiences in my childhood back in the 1950s.) No reason to change tactics at age 54!
One evening as I was getting ready for bed my wife and youngest son issued an ultimatum: “We are not leaving this room until you come with us to the emergency room.” My legs and feet had swollen to twice their normal size and I was having difficulty breathing. Reluctantly I rode with them to the ER.
After initial tests confirmed that I had a heart condition and diabetes I was transferred to the hospital. Things did not look good. The doctors could not determine how long the irregular heart rhythm and the diabetes had plagued me. I had lost over 70 pounds in the past year.
Over the next several days I had multiple intravenous lines, dozens of shots and a heart catheterization. In one week I made up for not getting shots for 30 years! God has a divine sense of humor! Then came the attempt to shock my heart back into rhythm.
While I was out cold the doctors shocked my heart. It did not stay in rhythm until they shocked me a second time. When I came out from under the anesthesia I had paddle burns, and later I bruised black and dark purple over half my lower extremities!
I remained in the hospital for a week during which time I could only imagine how grateful I would be to teach again. The kind and patient hospital staff taught me to give myself insulin shots and sent me home weak and wobbly but grateful to be alive.
My youngest son and my wife saved my life when they forced me to go to the ER. One week later God gracious-ly reminded me of the joy of teaching as I sat with violin in hand and tears of gratitude in my eyes while I prayed with my first student of the day.
Jay-Martin Pinner teaches 41 violin, viola, cello and double bass students at Pinner Studios in Greenville, South Carolina. He is also a free-lance musician, guest conductor and adjudicator.
"It cannot be empasized too strongly
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or too often that this great nation was founded,
not by religionists, but by Christians,
not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ!"