What Box Are You In?

For years, I’ve watched as musicians look at others who create music outside their own genres and think “What’s up with what they’re doing!?!?” Classical musicians tend to understand classical musicians. Rock musicians get each other but look at country artists and think how much more are you going to sing about losing things? (Sorry… bad joke there). I find it amazing that even though we’re all musicians, we struggle with understanding those who perform genres we’re not familiar with. It’s really all about our own preferences.

Tuning a guitarI’ll start with my favorite example… it took the classical world a long time to “respect” jazz musicians. Now, some 25 years later, it’s perfectly normal to get a music degree with an emphasis on jazz. But, it took some trailblazers to push through the “fuddy duddy” paradigm that many prestigious music schools had about jazz music not being “real” music. Keep that thought in mind as we go on.

Rock musicians vs country musicians… Again, they are completely different in almost every aspect. I’ve known several people who either like country or hate it. It’s the same with the various types of rock music. Some rock musicians have tried to cross over to country and do well. Others, fail miserably because it doesn’t fit their style, or their fans tend want to hear them perform the genre they’re used to hearing. Classical musicians – uh, we are known for being stuck up and looking down upon non-classical musicians and those who can’t read music. There, I said it.

In a sense, fans tend to put their favorite artists in a box (rock, jazz, classical, pop, etc.) and don’t want them to get out of it. 

My point here is that people tend to choose music based on what speaks to them and moves them in some way or another. And, the ability to cross over from one genre to the next seems an interesting accomplishment. I’ve often wondered why that is. As usual, if you have ideas on this subject, I welcome your responses in the comment section below.

What box should I be in?

As you probably all know by now, I’m a classical musician by profession. You can read that story HERE. At the same time, I’ve been part of various religious organizations where the need for sheet music was becoming a thing of the past. People relied on lead sheets with chords. OK, fine by me… that works. This whole sheet music vs non-sheet music thing seems to be a big issue between traditional and non-traditional religious systems. Many main line denominations have both traditional and contemporary services. Why? Because people get stuck in what they’re used to and struggle with getting out of the box they’ve put themselves in.

I’ve gone to many conferences where there are some awesome worship leaders that don’t read one note of music but are amazing musicians. Some of them have better pitch and a sense of rhythm than many classical musicians who have studied for years. But, this is where it gets a little interesting… When I run into some of these people and they find out that I’m a classical musician who also does worship music, generally the first words out of their mouth are “Oh, classical musicians aren’t really good at flowing in the spirit.” I’d probably be rich if I had money for every time someone has said that to me. It got to the point that I eventually quit telling people that I could read music.

When it comes to contemporary praise and worship music, the main issue seems to be the music readers vs the non-music readers. On most worship teams, very few people read sheet music and simply play from lead sheets. Prophetic worship? It’s done simply by playing and listening to Creator and flowing with the other musicians. So, what’s the problem? As I stated above, it seems we’re in a paradigm of believing one way is better than another. The problem is that when we do this, we get stuck in a rut and struggle with moving forward. In reality, a musician who wants to be well rounded should be able to read music AND play by ear. The problem is that learning to read music is no easy task. It involves years of practice, patience, and perseverance. Even after learning to read music, understanding music theory isn’t a given. That, too, takes training. Talk to any first year music major… they’ll enlighten you.

Let me propose that it’s time to step outside our personal boxes and realize there’s more to offer than what we have each experienced. Do we want to move forward? If so, it’s time to look beyond our own box and see what else is out there. Maybe Creator has something new and original that needs to be heard. How ready are we for that? In a sense, I’m finding that my ability to play by ear (not being glued to sheet music) as well as understanding the intricacies of music theory is what’s propelled me through much of the research I’m now doing. Without that cross connection, it would be difficult to understand how frequency works from the musical standpoint. For an example on how a lack of understanding of music and music theory has shaped what many believe about some musical frequencies, check out my blog post on the solfeggio frequencies.

My box didn’t fit me…

woman in worshipMany of us have been in situations where people have doubted that we can do something. If you’ve had someone tell you “You’ll never be able to do that,” then you probably understand where I’m coming from. I’m not going to lie. When prophetic musicians I’ve respected have told me it will be tough for me to play by listening to the Spirit because I’m a classical musician, it hurt. The worst part? I believed them. I even harbored some ill feelings towards these people because I thought “How could they say that?” I took it personally, which as you’re probably already thinking, was not the best thing for me to do. And, it set me back. Please note… it was my response to what they said that set me back. I made a choice to believe their words.

When people say hurtful things to us, most often it’s not about us; it’s about them and their lack of understanding. And, they don’t realize what they’re saying could be taken as being hurtful. Maybe their previous experiences have led them to say what they did. However, it’s out of maturity that we learn what to say and when to say it. And, as we mature, what people say about us should not shape who we are.

No need to fear – Underdog is here! Yes, I was the underdog thinking that more experienced people knew better than I did. When I say that, I mean people who have spent their entire musical lives learning to let what was within them flow out without reading sheet music. I can read the notes off a page of music but sitting down and just playing? That was difficult until recently. I’ve noticed that people are really good at reading music or playing by ear but do tend to struggle with doing both. I can’t listen to a piece of music on the radio and sit down to play it but, I admire people who can. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who can’t sight read a piece of music set before them. That’s where I shine! I wanted to be able to do BOTH and through pressing into that desire, I learned how to do it. I got out of the box people put me in.

What can you take from this?

First of all, it’s important not to believe everything people tell you! You have to believe enough in yourself and the gifts that our Creator has put within you and trust that you can do what you desire. I’ve had to walk through some forgiveness with the people I harbored ill feelings towards because of what they said I couldn’t do. The reason I chose to get over my offense? When you hold an offense, you’re actually putting up a fence between you and what’s out there for you. It’s holding you from advancing to what it is you truly desire. Once I realized I was receiving lies, I had to retrain my thinking and make some paradigm shifts. I had to stop saying “I can’t do this” and believe that I COULD do it. Then, I had to actually put it into practice. Don’t forget the part about forgiving those who have wronged you. Yes, I did this and ooohhh, it was quite freeing.

Desire has to outweigh the “I can’t.” Just like playing a musical instrument and getting better at it, this is going to require some practice. The amazing part is that I didn’t even realize I was practicing learning how to let the music flow from within me. As I’ve said before, if it wasn’t for a couple of friends who really believed in me, I might not have pushed through. I was asked to sit and play based on what I was sensing during prayer sessions. Even though I didn’t know what to do, I tried. At some point, that trying became more real because I was making the effort and not shying away from it.

Getting out of the box…

cat in a boxWhere the trouble begins and you get stuck is when you’re not willing to try. I had to find that out. First, I desired. Then, I took that leap of faith and tried even though I had no clue what was going to happen. My encouragement for you is to go for it! If people have made you feel it’s impossible, then you need to walk through some healing in that area so you’re not stuck in a place where you can’t move forward. EMDR therapy is really good for that! Also, inner healing sessions through Splankna are very good, too. Splankna utilizes some EMDR techniques and I can say it’s very helpful. My friend, Alice Briggs, has a Splankna practice and would be happy to assist in helping you move past traumas into a place of freedom. Her site is called Emotional and Spiritual Healing.

I leave you with this thought… If you have a desire to do something and really feel it’s part of what you’re called to do, then make the necessary changes to achieve that goal. Don’t let what others say about you stop you. The first place to start is with yourself in changing what you think about yourself so that you’re able to move forward. Forgive those who’ve hurt you and then begin practicing what it is you want to do. Just like learning and perfecting a piece of music, it’s going to take being consistent.

Now, I encourage you to go listen to my music on the main page of my site and see the results of how I turned the lies I believed into something new and out of the box for our day.


© 2016 Del Hungerford



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