We all know musicians should keep learning.
No one wakes up and says, “I’ve made it! I’ve finally learned everything there is to know!”
Whoever says that won’t have many friends.
Learning and growing is part of what it is to be human. That journey never ends.
But do you know why? Why do you need to learn, remain curious and forever expand your creativity?
It’s not to be the best you can be. It’s not to create more opportunities for yourself.
It’s not to be more successful, to make money or to make a name for yourself.
What is it? I’ll answer the question shortly, but first allow me to reference a great new book.
I’ve been loving John Piper’s Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully. It’s a necessary read for songwriters, musicians, worship leaders and anyone involved in the arts.
The first chapter is a biographical sketch of George Herbert, the famous poet/pastor. The point that Piper makes is that Herbert used poems and beautiful language as a means to see and savor the beauty of Christ more fully. His art wasn’t an end in itself.
It was used as a microscope to see the glories of God.
Using Music to See Clearer
This has a lot to say to us as musicians.
Here’s how I would reframe the question to you:
- Are you using music as an end in itself or as a means to see and savor the beauty of Christ more fully?
- Are you expanding your melodic sensibilities in order to more accurately reflect the glory of God with sound?
- Do you practice your instrument as a way to express worship more fully?
I have the feeling that not many young musicians make this connection—to see their practice hours and musical education as a journey into seeing Christ more clearly. But I believe that has the power to revolutionize “why” we pursue excellence and creativity in music.
It’s to reflect Christ. It’s to see Christ more. That overwhelms the common motivations of comparison and becoming the best to “make it” as a musician.
Here’s how Piper phrases it:
“For George Herbert, poetry was a form of meditation on the glories of Christ mediated through the Scriptures. Conceiving and writing poems was a way of holding a glimpse of divine glory in his mind and turning it around and around until it yielded an opening into some aspect of its essence or its wonder that he had never seen before—or felt. This is meditation: getting glimpses of glory in the Bible or in the world and turning those glimpses around and around in your mind, looking and looking. And for Herbert, this effort to see and savor the glory of Christ was the effort to say it as it had never been said before.”
The key statement in this paragraph was that his poetry was meditation on glories of Christ “mediated through the Scriptures.” It wasn’t just a random, inner realization of one’s own thoughts.
The poetry was a result of peering into Scripture and expressing it back to God.
Using Music to Meditate on Scripture
Maybe you’re a musician and not a lyricist. What if you approached your music the same way—not as a replacement for Scripture but as an outlet for you to meditate on Scripture?
Scripture wasn’t just meant to be read—it needs to be turned “around and around until it yields an opening into some aspect of its essence or its wonder that you’ve never seen or felt before.”
Let’s say you have 20 minutes to spend in personal worship before you head to work. For 10 minutes, you could read Scripture. For the remaining 10 minutes, you could grab your guitar and seek to express and “reflect back” what you’ve read. Put the Scripture—the truth, the idea—to a melody. Turn it around and around and see if you see something you may have never seen before.
How does this apply to you?
Are you using your music and creativity to see more of God?
How does it help you experience his goodness on a deeper level?