Flute Solo – Consider the Lilies

May 30th, 2012

Writing this flute solo was the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity of facing the challenge of writing something that needed to be played by someone new to an instrument (Lily had been studying flute for about two years). This forced me to figure out ways to create sounds that were easily produced but were still new and interesting. What made the process much easier was the fact that Lily was already able to have a strong and full sound on the lower register of the flute (quite an accomplishment for her short time studying the instrument). So I focused on bringing out the contrast between the different registers while also creating complex harmonic implications to draw as much attention as possible to every sound being made throughout each line. This process yielded the opening melody, which reminded me of wind gently blowing across a field of flowers. Between that and Lily’s name, Matthew 6:28-30 (NIV) immediatly came to mind:

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

So I then wrote the rest of the flute solo based on the emotional process a person might go through when hearing Jesus’ words during a difficult time in life.

On Memorial Day, May 28, 2012, my wife’s high school flute student, Lily, premiered this flute solo. This premier performance can be viewed below:

Nothing I write is ever easy and this piece is no exception. Lily did a fantastic job of rising to the occasion! Hats of to her and my wife for working so hard in pulling it off so decisively!

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While originally being written as a flute solo, Consider the Lilies (not so coincidentally) works very nicely for the alto saxophone as well! I’ve included a preview of the score in the sample below as well.

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Vagrant Contemplation

November 5th, 2011

This sample is taken from my album, Prelude. Click here for more information.

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Instrumentation: Unaccompanied Alto Saxophone

Duration: 5:00

Performance notes: This piece doesn’t have anything extraordinarily challenging and very much sticks to the saxophone’s traditional capabilities. Except for a few very soft notes in the lower range of the instrument, there is very little that an advanced high school level performer shouldn’t be able to do after a bit of practice. There are a few technical passages that can be considered difficult, but as a last resort the performer can easily change the tempo to make the piece easier to play. I would highly recommend this to students who are attempting to broaden their dynamic range and learning to play out of time.

Interpretation: The mind itself is one of my favorite topics of discussion in philosophy, theology, and science. Here I have attempted to capture the occurrence of a mind having a dark thought that is never resolved, but keeps feeding off of itself until the mind simply accepts its depressed state. In my thinking, this occurs when a person is distressed but refuses to let the source go. This work is what results when a person refuses to let God handle problems that are out of their control. Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”


An Indirect Solution

June 3rd, 2010

One of you says, “I follow Martin Luther”; another, “I follow the Pope”; another, “I follow Baptist doctrine”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was the Pope crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of the Baptist denomination?

C.S. Lewis describes the Christian denominations as a single house with multiple rooms. If you are part of the house, you are living for the same purpose and with the same life direction (seeking a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and behaving accordingly). However, every Christian gravitates towards people with the same specific doctrinal beliefs. Lutherans are in one room, Evangelicals another, Anglicans another, and Roman Catholics another. There is nothing wrong with this. It’s a big book and we’re going to disagree on how to interpret it. But the problem comes in when these different groups refuse to leave their rooms and associate with other people in their family. This behavior doesn’t encourage people from the outside to come into the house and enjoy a relationship with Jesus Christ themselves (which should be our greatest concern). On the contrary, it discourages them from entering and is actively counterproductive to the work of the gospel. Not to say that we have any power over the effectiveness of the Lords work, but he does want his children to be obedient. I Corinthians 1:10, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” Then Paul says this again in Philippians 2:1-2, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

Unfortunately, all of the various denominations are so set in their different doctrines that they have deprived the body of Christ from necessary diversity. For example, Baptists don’t tend to associate with Pentecostals because Baptists are stiff and reserved while the Pentecostals are hyperactive and emotional. When people of these types don’t worship together, the Baptists become too stiff and the Pentecostals too emotional. Worshiping God must have aspects of both thoughtful meditation (Psalm 119:27) and of joyful noise (Psalm 98); Baptists and Pentecostals need each other in order to not take their natural tenancies too far. Different denominations contain different types of people, and these different types need to each other in order to maintain healthy and well balanced worship. In other words, denominations create extremes.

Getting God’s people to come back into the commons area of God’s house is going to be quite a challenge. In fact I don’t really see how its even possible. But where humans fail, God will succeed. Not only that, but he will succeed while using us to do it. That being said, I don’t quite understand the implications of the idea that I am now going to present to you. I see how it could work, but I know that it is not going to happen the way I think it is. Only God can move in the hearts and minds of his people to having the response necessary in order bring the body of Christ back together again. All I can do is present an idea that God has put on my heart. What God does with it in your hearts is up to him.

To bring all the churches together something must develop that members from all of the various denominations can be a part of. Higher education is already doing this to a large extent. For example, Cornerstone University (where I did my undergraduate studies) has more than 45 denominations represented in its student body. After growing up in a Baptist environment my entire life, this was an incredible opportunity for my ideas to merge with the view points of students from other backgrounds. It resulted in me actually getting into God’s word and discovering truth like I’d never experienced it before. This is the type of growth that could happen should Christians find something comparable to this in their own communities. Unfortunately, higher education can only go so far since it is very expensive and it is completely unreasonable to hope for a Christian university in every geographic context. It is also unreasonable to expect private elementary and high school education to accomplish church unity since this targets a fairly narrow demographic.

Music education is very peculiar. Because of the performance orientation it has, it drives people from very different backgrounds into that same room to enjoy an intellectually rich presentation together. Since the audience is typically connected with one of the people performing, and the people performing are connected to one another, these performances result in social connections that would’ve been impossible any other way. In this way music education has the power to bring random people together in order to strengthen the relational context of a community. But then make everyone in that room a passionate believer in Christ Jesus, and the result isn’t just a well connected community. What results is a well connected church that otherwise did not exist provided that this program does not exist only in a single church. And this finally brings us to the point I wish to make.

Create an inexpensive and Christ oriented music education program in a community that is connected with every church in that community, enroll representatives from every congregation to participate, back it up with prayer, and encourage every congregation to observe the resultant artistic presentation, and you will see entire church bodies uniting starting with the individual layperson and working its way up into the leadership.

If you live in the Lansing area and would like to see this happen, look over the plan in my blog entitled “The Church’s School of Music” and contact me to let me know you want to help make this happen. If you don’t live in the Lansing area but you would like to see this happen in your community, be bold and give it a try.

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Thank you all so much for your support by inviting people to join the Facebook group.  I’ve been pretty overwhelmed by the results so far.  To the newcomers, thank you for joining us and taking a look at what God is doing here.  Feel free to invite your Facebook friends to the group yourself.  You can find instructions on how to do this in the post from last week.

May God continue to work out his plans in completely unpredictable ways.

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