Thursday, May 24, 2012

a sound parable

In praise of you, our God,
I will sing a new song,
while playing my harp. (Psalm 144:9)
Starr Taylor piano restoration
Rebekah and I love music. We both grew up singing hymns around the family piano and appreciate pretty much every genre from Handle to Joplin to Puccini to Queen. Rebekah was classically trained, attended Stetson’s school of music to be a concert pianist, and considered music therapy as a career. I dabble on the keyboard, am a fairly decent guitarist, used music extensively in my work with autistic children and learn more every week as I play rhythm in the Praise Band.
Our home sound-system is a hybrid anchored by speakers we purchased in 1980, we have Bose iPod docks in my office and the bedroom, and both vehicles boast state of the art audio. But we still think of the piano my parents gave us for a wedding gift as the heart of music at Maul Hall. So we talked with the music gurus at church and had the best piano tuner-restorer they could recommend tear down our Baldwin Studio Upright and do what was necessary to restore its soul and rediscover the beauty of its voice.
The focus is a little soft in this image. But I think it captures the story I’m telling regardless
STARR TURN: It took Starr Taylor – – two long visits and most of the tools in his truck to put things right. But now our piano is not only “good as new” but in fact better. The soundboard has mellowed, he replaced worn parts with fittings that have improved over the past 33 years, and he applied his own creative, artistic touch to the fine nuances of tone, timbre (tone color), pitch, action, resonance and more.
I asked Starr if his work was primarily engineering, art, mechanics, or musicianship. What he said, essentially, was “Yes…”
I think it’s a useful metaphor for this ongoing discussion we’re having (via these posts) about “The Life-Charged Life.”
Getting down to the guts
EXPLAIN? I don’t know about you, but like our piano I am not the same as the original model that rolled off the assembly line so many years ago. Some parts have deteriorated, some have snapped, some have lost their elasticity and flexibility, some are on the verge of failing, some – like the sustain pedal a few weeks ago – simply fall off (still talking about the piano…!). And everything – without exception – gets gobbed up with dust, lint, and sticky residue.
Without both preventative maintenance and routine repairs, even a fine-quality instrument becomes compromised; not only out of tune but out of commission.
That’s why it requires mechanical knowledge, engineering expertise, artistic interpretation, bona fide musicianship and the creative application of the entire package to nurture an instrument back from the brink or to keep it in peak working order as time goes by.
A time for breaking down… and a time for restoring
TIME FOR A SERVICE? My intention to live this “Life-Charged Life” as God intends requires a similar application of creativity and fundamental know-how.
Like the piano, I really am subject to wear and tear. Not just physically, but spiritually. If I don’t open up on a regular basis the gunk is just going to accumulate. I need tightening, adjusting, tuning, cleansing, renovating… Love.
And none of this can happen if I remain closed up. Sealed. Inaccessible. Resistant to change. It’s more than the idea of constant refreshment, it’s the principle that inactivity, a closed heart, and the absence of reinvention typically add up to long-term decline and eventual death.
There’s a great line from Oliver Wendell Homes that I use in my new book, 10 Life-Charged Words (August 2012). “Alas for those that never sing, but die with all their music in them!”
Thanks, Starr Taylor. Our piano was made to sing and you have helped it find its voice again. We were all created to live a life-charged life, stuffed full with melody by our Creator.
Alas for those who fail to sing.

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