“Blow your life through your horn.” —Arturo Sandoval
We musicians have a special relationship with our instruments. Some of us have spent a lifetime searching for that one special horn, or mouthpiece, or set of strings that helps bring life to our music. Cuban jazz trumpeter, Arturo Sandoval expresses it perfectly. We need to put the breath of our spirit into our instrument if our music rings with authenticity. And, of course, we need a horn/instrument that resonates with our spirit. And when we find just the right “friend” our music soars to a higher level.
Recently, I was reviewing some of my old journals and I came across the following entry of a few years back – a perfect illustration of how important our instruments are for our creativity, and for some of us, our ministry. Here’s what happened . . .
It was a whirlwind weekend. Arianna (my daughter and vocalist of our group, Oîkos) and I arrived in Denver during a severe snowstorm. We drove to our hotel in a rental car that had non-functioning windshield wipers. Later that day we traveled back to the airport, to exchange the car for one safe to drive in the snow, then pick up our pianist, Chris, whose flight had been delayed due to the storm. The next day the fun began—a creativity playshop, three concerts and two worship services . . . all in three days. Fun, but tiring.
In the middle of it all Chris and I had a few free hours and went to the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music for a little practice. After exploring some new compositions I put my soprano sax in the case. As we went to leave the case popped open and my new sax crashed to the floor.
I’ve never had this happen before. I distinctly remember latching the case, but evidently not securely. The tumble to the hard floor had bent a rod and some keys—disaster! Staff at the school directed us to a music store a couple of miles away where the repair person, Matt, looked at the instrument carefully and said he could fix it but that he was already booked up for the day. I explained we had a series of gigs and had to leave for Fort Collins (70 miles away) in three hours. After some negotiation, “Well, maybe I could get it done,” became “give me a call in two hours.” And, indeed, Matt was true to his word—the horn was ready, and after some additional fine-tuning my sax and I were reunited.
The concert that evening at Plymouth United Church of Christ was a fundraiser for a local agency that works with homeless folks. Pastor Steve hosted an interfaith gathering of more than 200 folks—half of whom were teenagers getting ready to spend the night sleeping outside in cardboard boxes in sub-freezing temperatures to experience first-hand what it’s like to be without a roof overhead. Since Oîkos literally means “home” in Greek we were able to add depth to the meaning through music and storytelling. Every time I played my soprano I gave thanks to Matt for his willingness to go the extra mile to fix my horn . . . and thanks for Oîkos, my musical home, that provides an abode for creative exploration and an opportunity to make a difference in the world, if only in a small way.
Violinist Julie Lyonn Lieberman maintains that, “you are your instrument.” The Apostle Paul said, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?” Think about it.