Torch, Summer 1981

MUSIC: Homemade and Family Style e are living in a musically saturated society. Consider, for example, a few of the diverse settings in which music is heard in our daily lives . The sounds of music pervade the church, the home, the dentist's office, the car, the school, the concert hall. A myriad of styles come and go. How should today's Christian family relate to this musical milieu? Concerned parents quickly discover that the development of a family philosophy of music can be difficult due to the abstract nature of music. It is much easier to ignore the subject. Nevertheless, those families that elect to "face the music" find that a positive musical climate can be fostered in the home if it is based upon the scriptural principles stated in Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Genuine thinking "on these things" involves submission to the Holy Spirit's direction and an investment of mental and emotional energy . Constant changes in musical styles necessitate constant evaluation. And this process must begin at home. If Christian families were to conduct an informal listening survey within the home, definite listening patterns could be quickly ascertained. It might be enlightening for us to discover the quantity and the types of music that we regularly consume, often through subconscious perception. Since our minds function in one sense as tape recorders, the need to control what we hear is obvious. Most American families own a variety of electronic devices that can bring virtually any kind of music into the home at the touch of a fingertip. Through careful monitoring, it is possible for today's Christian family to benefit greatly from these conveniences. Christian radio stations, FM classical, and easy listening stations, along with Christian and public television stations, can all be valuable tools for the "ear conditioning" of our families. Children's records and tapes can also reinforce parental teaching as well as the instruction given at church and at school. Besides this educational by Dr. Lyle J. Anderson function, well-chosen music can help to produce a calming effect in the home-especially on those mornings when it seems everyone got up on the "wrong side of the bed!" Likewise, listening to tape-recorded music and stories while on family car trips can contribute to hours of peaceful coexistence! Despite the many helpful uses of electronic media, the most important conveyers of music in the home are the family members themselves . Truly "homemade" music can help deepen spiritual commitment and cement family relationships in a variety of ways. For example , Colossians 3: 16 provides a framework for using music in family devotional times: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." The order here is significant. After we have allowed the word of Christ to dwell in us, we are then encourged to "teach and admonish" one another, making use of several types of musical expression, all of which are to be offered directly to God. Well-chosen psalms, hymns, gospel songs, or choruses that correlate with particular scriptural passages can clarify key Biblical concepts. As families lift their hearts and voices to the Lord, the quality of worship, rather than the quality of voices, should always be the prime consideration. Everyone can "make a joyful noise unto the Lord" (Psalm 100: 1). When parents incorporate musical aspects within family devotional times, children soon realize that Biblical music is not for recreational purposes or for variety per se; but, rather, it is a vital channel of worship and praise . Occasionally, parents may need to explain what the chorus Deep and Wide symbolizes or answer questions such as, "What does Rock of Ages mean?". This emphasis upon understanding what we hear, play, or sing cannot help but enhance the spiritual sensitivity of all members of the family. Another type of "homemade" music that merits special consideration is the provision for vocal or instrumental music lessons . When parents discern even a minimal amount of God-given musical talent in their children (usually at age six or seven), private music instruction can be a valuable experience for the entire 5