A Musical See-Saw

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

[print version] [audio version Listen to the audio version of A Musical See-Saw]


When I was a small child, I really enjoyed going to the park to play on the playground equipment. I think my favorite may have been the twister slide, you know, the one that seemed like it was a mile high and went down in a corkscrew shape. Of course, I really enjoyed clambering about on the support bars like some sort of wild monkey. Back then, playgrounds had equipment that was deemed to be fun, and manufacturers were not as concerned about lawsuits and liability as they are today.

One of the common pieces of equipment on every playground was a device known as a see-saw or teeter-totter. It was a long, thick board balanced across a fulcrum or support in the exact center of the board. Ideally, two children who weighed approximately the same would sit on either end of the board and would alternately jump up, making the other end go down, and then sit heavily on the board to cause their end to go back down, making the other end rise. Up and down we would go, entertaining ourselves for a few moments. Sometimes, the child on the other end would fall off or jump off, causing my end to crash down to the ground, and knocking me off in the process as well.

Music preferences and standards tend to be like that. When we get too much weight or momentum on one end or the other, we can have the tendency to fall off into areas that we should not be in. I tend to categorize the two ends of the musical see-saw as folk-type music styles on one end, with the more classical, educated types of music on the other end. Within this spectrum, there are many fine examples of music that are fit for human consumption and are perfectly legitimate pieces of music for the Christian to listen to.

The problem comes when fall off one end or the other. The negative aspects of folk-type music tend to be issues like rebellion, immorality, freedom from all restraint, music that appeals to the flesh predominately, music for purely amusement or entertainment, etc. Classical music can become an overly intellectual exercise, can promote arrogance and disdain for those who have not been trained in it, and can become an arena for man to promote the idea that life is meaningless and purposeless. Just listen to some of the horrendous 20th century classical pieces.

Both ends of the musical teeter-totter have their problems. Both extremes should be avoided by Christians. I like to think of the issue this way: some music reaches the foot, some music reaches the head, but as a Christian, I want to reach the heart.

So instead of referencing our music as being of a “higher” standard (which is more often applied to classical styles of Christian music) or “lower” standard (the folk music type), we really ought to be thinking about having a more balanced, Biblical music standard. Music should not speak to us primarily physically, nor should it speak to us primarily intellectually. Music should speak to us on a spiritual level. It should be “balanced,” so that it reaches our spirit, that part of us that relates to God.


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Curtis Hollembeak


Curtis holds a bachelor's degree in Bible with a music minor, as well as a master's degree in Sacred Music, having studied under Dr. Frank Garlock, president of Majesty Music, and Ray and Ann Gibbs, well-known Christian singers. He has served as music director and jr. high/high school supervisor at Grace Baptist Church of Mankato, Minnesota; school music director at the Franklin Road Christian School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; media engineer for the Sword of the Lord in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and, full-time music director at Second Baptist Church and Twin City Christian Academy in Festus, Missouri. He is currently self-employed and serves in the music ministry of the Berean Baptist Church in Rockford, IL. Curtis is co-founder and President of the Asaph Music Co. He regularly sings bass with the Bible Truth Chorale on recordings produced by Bible Truth Music at Faith Music Missions.

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  A Musical See-Saw Listen to the audio (MP3) version of A Musical See-Saw
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