Sunday, February 11, 2007
Attack of the Killer Musicians!
I am blessed to work with a pastor who's, by and large, a dream of a colleague. Please make no mistake: I am NOT prompted to write this entry because of any professional friction between the two of us.
What I have read and heard, too many times recently for my comfort, is cases of highly unprofessional behavior of church musicians toward the clergy who serve their churches. I won't get into the details of any one story, but trust me--they're not pretty. And don't get me wrong: I know there are some real Clergy-Kongs out there who neither respect nor behave professionally toward the musicians with whom they work. That's perhaps worth addressing, most effectively by clergy who are as fed up with Clergy-Kong stories as I am right now with Music-Zilla tales. So you Music-Zillas, if your egos will permit you to identify yourself in what follows, read and heed. And if you're trying your utmost to be the best church musician, staff member, Christian, and co-worker with your pastor that you can be, then this isn't about you; if you read it, remember it if you're ever tempted to make yourself the star of your own church music show.
I am Music-Zilla. I have the credentials to prove it. I am the resident expert in all things musical at my church, and I defy anyone, especially the pastor, to find fault with anything I do, musically or otherwise.
Do not forget that it is your great good fortune that I am here, wasting my great talent on this pitifully music-challenged church. You have neither the intellect nor the taste to adequately appreciate what I so generously share with you musical ignoramuses.
Since your tastes are so parochial, I alone am qualified to judge what pieces of music, styles, and genres are appropriate for this church. Any attempt to judge my decisions is simply proof that you have no musical taste.
You are only a clergyperson. You couldn't possibly understand or appreciate what it takes for a musician to do what a musician does. Do not presume to suggest that I have any need to study new music, methods of teaching or conducting, or expand my repertoire in any way. I was performing this repertoire long before you arrived here, and I'll still be performing it when you're long gone.
I alone have the discernment to know if I ought to practice more. At the pinnacle of my art as I am, it is difficult to imagine that there is much more I could possibly learn. Do not presume to suggest additional practice or continuing education on my part.
I don't (often) tell you how to preach your sermons. Don't you dare try to tell me how to choose hymns, choral and ensemble pieces, solos, or service music. Stop bowing down to the altar of "The music must fit the texts/theme of the service." Nobody cares or notices about that nonsense except you. In "Church Music," remember that "church" is only the adjective; the noun is "Music." You tend to your knitting, and I'll tend to mine.
Whatever it was they taught you at that high-steeple seminary, it sure wasn't how to work with musicians. It's not my job to educate you. I'm too busy doing what it is that I do. Treat me with the deference due any fine artist, and we ought to be able to get along when we must. Simply do not expect me to be impressed with your credentials. Do not hope to earn my respect. I am Music-Zilla. I am bigger than you. Or at least, my ego is.