Imagine a world without music. On the radio there is nothing but talk. High school football has no fight song. You recline on the beach but there’s no “Margaritaville”. Worship is devoid of voices and instruments lifted in songs of praise. Christmas has no carols, commercials have no jingles, couples in love don’t have “our song”. We love our music. Music shapes, molds, and marks the key events of our lives.
One of my favorite movies is “Mr. Holland’s Opus” starring Richard Dreyfuss as Glenn Holland. Mr. Holland is a high school band director by day and a frustrated composer by night. As a band director-slash-composer he desperately seeks to instill into his students the same love and appreciation for music he has. In one scene, he is working after school with clarinet player Gertrude Lang. Gertrude is working so very hard, but struggling to make it through the piece she is attempting to play. At one point she gets so frustrated that she stops playing altogether and says that maybe she’ll just quit. She practices and practices but for some reason the notes just don’t come out right. Mr. Holland asks her which of her features she likes best when she looks into the mirror. Gertrude has beautiful, long auburn hair and mentions that her father says it reminds him of the sunset. Mr. Holland tells her to close her eyes and “play the sunset.” The proverbial light bulb goes on in her head as she transforms from a wanna-be clarinet player to a musician.
“Play the sunset.” That’s what music is all about. The notes on the page are not the musician’s final destination; they are the merely roadmap for taking him there. And when performed masterfully, both the musician and her audience are moved emotionally as the musician contributes another track to Life’s Soundtrack.
Music is an essential part of our lives. It celebrates the milestones in life while inspiring us to achieve great things. It sets the tone or the mood for what we’re about to do. Whether in mourning or in celebration; in peace or at war; in worship or on vacation, our music marks the times of our lives. “Play the sunset” and let Life’s Soundtrack play on.