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Tips for bringing God into your composing, performing, or teaching

Did you know that 93% of the US population goes out of their way to listen to music? That doesn't include hearing music in movies, on social media, or in stores! Plus, the average American listens to 25 hours of music per week. That's a lot of music!

Whether you write, perform, or teach music, the music you pass on to others matters. Music can be a powerful vehicle to bring God's beauty and healing love to others, and you have the immense honor and privilege of being His instrument.

My day job is mostly teaching private lessons, but I'm also a freelance composer and performer, as well. Over the last few years, the question of how to incorporate God into these different aspects of what I do is a question that I've considered, prayed about, and discussed with others quite a bit. I've integrated some really solid ways of bringing God into my profession, so I wanted to share with you all a few suggestions!

For composers/songwriters:

  1. Co-create with the Holy Spirit! Invite Him into your creative process and ask Him to inspire you. Pay attention to what comes into your mind and your heart – there might be a particular melody, motif, or chord progression that rises up. If nothing arises or feels particularly inspiring, that might be a sign from the Holy Spirit to put it down for now and to do something else.

  2. Bring manuscript paper and a pencil to Eucharistic adoration. Sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament is such a beautiful way to spend time with Jesus in the Flesh, and the Eucharist has been a source of inspiration for many composers over the centuries. You may just find that it's a source of inspiration for you, as well.

  3. Ask Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, to intercede when you're experiencing a creative block. At the beginning of my last semester of grad school, I was really struggling to finish a work of music that my graduate woodwind quintet was planning to perform for our final recital. A couple of weeks prior, my mom had gifted me an Our Lady, Undoer of Knots prayer card with one of my Christmas gifts, and I began praying the novena prayer on the back every night for this "knot" of the creative block I was experiencing to be undone. Within days, I was able to finish the piece, whereas I'd been stuck for months beforehand! Mary is a good mother, and her intercession is truly powerful.

For performers:

  1. Begin and end each practice session with a prayer! Ask the Holy Spirit to enter into your practicing and to inspire you as you learn and shape the music you're making. Music comes from God, and He is the ultimate teacher!

  2. Incorporate prayer into your pre-concert or audition routine. If you don't have a pre-concert or audition routine, that's totally fine – just say a prayer before you go onstage dedicating your performance to God! It could be as simple as "Come, Holy Spirit" or a Hail Mary, or it could be something like praying a rosary or going to Mass on the morning of a big performance or an audition.

  3. Consider the music you perform from a spiritual perspective: is it morally good, morally neutral, or morally evil? If it doesn't explicitly go against God, by all means go for it! But if there's irredeemable qualities in a song you're performing (or even a show/opera) – such as glorifying substance abuse, the occult, or sex outside its proper context – it's prudent to reconsider. Why are you performing it? Is it because it has a great musical line, or it's really fun to perform? Unfortunately those can't override the words. Especially when lyrics are involved, it's important to think of your audience. Each one of them has a unique, unrepeatable soul that is loved by God. As a musician, you have the ability to offer them music that will either bring them closer to God or further away from Him. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says: "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." (Luke 11:23) Our actions are either for God or against God. This also goes for the music we make.

For educators:

  1. Pray "Come, Holy Spirit" before you teach! If you want to memorize or have memorized the full "Come, Holy Spirit" prayer, awesome! It's super short and easy to memorize. If not, just say those three words: "Come, Holy Spirit." Invite Him into your teaching and ask Him to inspire you with how to approach your students. If you're a school educator, you might even want to consider praying this before each class you teach. If you're a private teacher, consider doing this before each student if possible.

  2. Choose uplifting music for your students. As a music educator, you especially have the ability to bring God's healing love to your students through music. Because of that, I really encourage you to choose music that's uplifting for your students' hearts. It's not hard to see that there's so much ugliness and pain in the world, and your students are surrounded by it – some more than others, and you may not always know who. The music you choose has the potential to be a vehicle of God's healing love to your students.

  3. Pick a patron saint to guide you each academic year! There are so many saints who were musicians or who supported the musical arts. Our four patron saints are a good place to start, but some other ones to consider include Pope St. John Paul II, St. Gregory the Great, and St. Ephrem! For a more comprehensive list of musical saints, check out this great resource from Aleteia.

I hope you find these tips helpful! If you have any helpful tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments!


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