Should I Take Piano Lessons?

I’m currently at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA, with 1600 men for “The Quest: A Journey Through Biblical Masculinity.” It’s a conference being hosted by Sovereign Grace Ministries, but we have a significant number of guests. I have the privilege of leading corporate worship three times along with my good friend Joseph Stigora. I’ve also been asked to teach a seminar on “The Pursuit: A Fresh Look at Courtship for Fathers and Sons.” I’m happy to encourage young men to give more thought to pursuing a woman in a way that pleases God, and challenging dads to serve their sons in the process. One of the highlights for me yesterday was meeting Shai Lynn, an African-American Christian rapper from Philadelphia who told me how much he enjoys Worship Matters. I thought, maybe I’m not so old after all.

In any case, Aaron sent this question in a few weeks ago.

I met this new piano teacher in early December and that’s when the idea first hit me: maybe I should start taking piano lessons again? Over the past year, I have found a little time here and there to learn some classical songs that I always wanted to learn, but never did when I was younger (Moonlight Sonata, some  Debussy, etc.).To be honest, my initial reaction to the idea of taking piano lessons again is that it just seems silly.  I keep asking myself questions like “Why invest all the time and money into learning new pieces?” … “To what end do I take piano lessons?” … “do I really have a goal in mind?  Or do I just want to learn how to play really hard-to-play songs (like Rachmaninoff)?”

Anyway, I am curious what thoughts you have regarding adult music education, especially for someone like me–I’m not learning a new instrument; I would merely be advancing my piano by learning more and more difficult pieces (and honing my technical skills as well).

Here’s what I wrote.

Thanks for asking. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. The benefits are that your technique would improve, sounds like you’d enjoy the process of practicing, and you’d be able to play some songs you’ve always wanted to play. I think God makes us in certain ways that we truly do derive enjoyment from certain things and not others. When we do them for his glory, it pleases him. It also might open up other areas for serving, like at receptions or special events, maybe?

The downsides are the investment of time and money that precludes your doing other things. If studying piano wouldn’t negatively affect other areas you think the Lord is calling you to faithfulness in (Family? Work? Church?), then I’d pursue it. I imagine after a season  you’d realize you’ve learned as much as you need, and move on.

Hope that’s helpful. So appreciate your desire to grow in your musical gifts!

5 Responses to Should I Take Piano Lessons?

  1. Tami January 12, 2007 at 1:20 PM #

    Given the considerations mentioned in the post, I’d say go for it!

    I’ve taken voice lessons at various points in the ten years since I graduated from college (the timing seems to coordinate with my “off seasons” from the worship team, when I’m serving in another ministry). I believe that God has blessed me and grown my abilities through the practice, and that when I seek to refine the skills He’s given me in music—-or any arena—-for His glory, He is working out His eternal good in me.

    I love this statement from A.W. Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy: “Life is a short and fevered rehearsal for a concert we cannot stay to give.” May we remember this as we apply ourselves to music or anything He’s given us to do!

  2. MichaelQ January 14, 2007 at 4:33 PM #

    It was great having you lead worship at the Quest! Worship on that scale is an awesome thing and makes me eager to see what happens in Heaven!

  3. Christy Tennant January 17, 2007 at 10:23 AM #

    Hi Bob,

    I am not actually commenting on this blog entry, but rather wanted to ask a question that maybe you could address in a future blog?

    As a worship leader, what are some of the traditional hymns that you find make the transition into contemporary music well and work in a contemporary music setting, without being jarring to the point of distraction in terms of archaic language, melodies that are not easily singable without the notes printed in a hymnal, etc.?

    Thanks,
    Christy Tennant

  4. Matthew Westerholm January 18, 2007 at 11:06 PM #

    Don’t forget about how much you can learn about *HUMILITY* by practicing the piano.

    I’ve been playing for a while, and nothing reminds me of my limits more than trying to get my fingers to push down keys at the right time and in the right way.

    AARRGGHH! There is only one perfect Person, and I’m not it.

    <><
    matthew

  5. Paul February 26, 2007 at 8:47 PM #

    I am very touched by few articles in this site. I am involved in the music ministry and would like to stay in touch and learn more from brothers and sisters around your ministry.
    God bless you.
    Paul T

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