I’m Not a Music Person

“I’m not much of a music person.”

I’ve described myself this way numerous times, yet, I’m not entirely sure how it came about. I used to like listening to music, though I can almost never tell you the name of a song or artist, and I don’t have a favorite genre. Over the years I’ve listened to rock, soft rock, pop, country, classical, and probably others I don’t even know what genre they go in. I haven’t ever had to make sure to get anyone’s newest album (well, except back in middle school when I was obsessed with New Kids on the Block, of course).

I’m not musical, that’s for sure. I can’t sing well and even though I had a whole two years of piano lessons, I hated practicing and about all I can remember is the C scale, chopsticks, and heart and soul. I own a guitar, but I can’t play it. There are lots of musical people in my family though; in fact, being non-musical might be more of an anomaly.

And so, though at one time I listened to music regularly, somewhere along the way I gave up on it. I lost interest in having it playing around the house or in the car, and felt like a cranky old person when I thought music at church was too loud, and like something was wrong with me when I got bored singing the praise songs that so many other people seemed to enjoy so much, and then there’s also the unsaid expectations at times that “Christian” music is the type of music that should be listened to, not “secular” music.

I’ve been reading a book called Beauty, by John O’Donohue, and when I came to the chapter on music I thought it wouldn’t be all that interesting, because, remember, I’m not a music person.

He writes:

In contrast to most other forms of art, music alters your experience of time. To enter a piece of music, or to have the music enfold you, is to depart for a while from regulated time.

This is how I often felt during ballet class (which, guess what, involves music). During a 90-minute class, I was able to only focus on dancing; thoughts about anything else in my life didn’t even enter my mind. It was a time-altering experience. It didn’t matter how hard the steps were or how many times we had to repeat something; I was lost in it.

But I’ve been listening to music again in the last few months, to songs that inspire and encourage me, and express what I think or feel, songs that can hold the tension of joy and sadness, faith and doubt; that acknowledge that life isn’t just wonderful all the time, and to music without words that calms me when I’m agitated.

I have enjoyed listening to new-to-me songs as I work in the yard or find peace and solitude in my sunroom, songs that may express what I feel or think, or didn’t know I felt or thought.

I think I’ve decided that it isn’t that I’m not a music person. I just don’t want to feel as if there’s only one kind of music I’m supposed to listen to. There’s such a variety out there that when we write off certain types as something we shouldn’t listen to, it limits our own experience of understanding ourselves and connecting with others, and we can become more isolated and lonely.

Here’s a variety of songs I’ve felt a connection to lately:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7k0a5hYnSI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCg2BoKiuOM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV-Z1YwaOiw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY7HrPIlu-Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwfAKN4r4tM

What music do you most relate to, and why?

The Church Shopping Saga Continues: How’s the Music?

This post is one in a series about the adventure of finding a new church to attend after moving to a new town.  You can find the others with the label “Church Shopping“.



The music.  There is probably nothing in a church service that evokes more emotion or opinions than the music.  People who are used to traditional hymns may balk at “contemporary” music.  People who have never heard anything but contemporary music may not even know what an organ is.  For some, the music is too loud.  For others, it plods along.  Some lyrics are difficult to understand.  Some lyrics are too simplistic and boring.  People have favorite songs as well as songs they dislike.  Music is used to appease people or to get new people in the door.  

In the past, I’ve attended churches that have had both traditional music as well as contemporary praise and worship, and I like both.  If I had to choose a favorite, I’d probably choose contemporary praise and worship, as long as the hymns I love could be included as well.  Actually, if I really had to choose, I enjoy the simplicity of a guitar only; I don’t need the drums or anything else.   

Of the six churches we’ve visited, four have been more traditional musically and two have been more contemporary, although, there were some contemporary songs done on piano in the traditional churches, so it’s not exactly taboo.

When I think about the music, and think about my preference, though, I realize that what I am doing is relying on being fed by the music (For more about being fed, see Part I and Part II on the topic).  Music is meant, I think, to be something emotional.  It stirs our hearts and touches our souls.  There is nothing inherently wrong with music.  There are so many beautiful instances of music throughout the Bible:

  • Singing about God’s strength and salvation after the exodus (Exodus 15:1-18)
  • Deborah and Barak singing a song (Judges 5:1-31)
  • Responsive singing (Ezra 3:11)
  • The Psalms!
  • Singing hallel at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:30)
  • Paul’s instructions to have a hymn when meeting together (1 Cor 14:26)
  • Many others I didn’t think of or find in my search
Music is a wonderful tool to be used to help point us to God, to be used to worship God.  But when we get excited about a certain song being sung or feeling bored with another song, aren’t we making it about ourselves instead?  I do this ALL the time.  When a song that I love is being played, I am happy; when a song I don’t like is being played, I may not sing or if I do sing, my heart really isn’t into it.  I’ve done this since I was a child.  There’s one particular hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, that I never liked (I’m ok with it now) and I would flip back and forth through my hymnal deliberately not being able to find the hymn until it was over so that I didn’t have to sing it.  Then, there are other songs that I could sing every week (“Here I Am, Lord”, “Be Thou My Vision”, “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, “In Christ Alone”, “God of Wonders”, “Everlasting God” to name a few).

Here’s the thing.  Church lasts about an hour on Sunday, right?  If I don’t hear the music that I like, does it really matter?  I can listen to it as often as I want at home!  I can put my favorite songs on repeat.  I can sing along to them and dance around in my kitchen (umm…did I just admit that?).  So if I can get this music that I love elsewhere, is it really an important qualification for choosing a church after all?  Do I need to rely on a church to feed me the music that I like?

What type of music do you prefer?  What role does music play in your life, whether in general or in church?