Monday, July 20, 2009

A Matter of Excellence

It was an old Dick Van Dyke episode—one of my all time favorite shows. The music swelled and the guest star stood to sing.

In the instant before he uttered a sound, I knew he was a real singer. Other singers will understand how I knew when I say that he stood straight, like a string was pulled taut from the top of his head on down. The weight on his feet was evenly distributed and one foot was slightly in front of the other.

He wasn't going to belt out a catchy pop phrase with a laryngitic voice. He was a real singer who made his whole body a musical instrument from his toes up. He used his lungs, throat, mouth, even his sinuses for resonance.

The song itself was beautiful with a true rich melody and a poetic message.

I know it shows how much of a sissy I am, but it got me all emotional.

How to relate it to others? It was like watching an athlete who trained all his life for a winning Olympic moment. Or like a mechanic who hears the first throaty roar of a his shiny custom made hotrod.

It was more than just good enough.

It was excellent.

The song got to me because in recent years I've grown weary of most of the music that surrounds us. And that's discouraging because music has been a big part of my life since before I could talk.

I'm tired of monotonous rhythm, nonmelodic melodies, and the standard key change at the third verse.

I'm sorry, but I'm also tired of a lot of religious music: the praise songs with their single phrases repeated over and over, and the same old hymns that I can sing in my sleep.

I hasten to say how much I appreciate the music of our own wonderful church choir. For that matter, I don't wish to criticize anyone's musical preference—if it does something for you, I'm glad.

I just want to say that I yearn for more than just good enough, and I'm grateful when I experience it.

It makes me remember that the time, effort, and experience that it takes to be excellent can be worth it. Whether it be in music, sports, cars, or education.

In matters of the spirit, too.

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