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Posts from — August 2011

Singing to edify

Some helpful thoughts on serving one another through singing from Greg Gilbert at the 9Marks blog:

“I think we ought to encourage every member of our churches to sing every song in the service with gusto, even if they don’t particularly resonate with the song. Every Christian has a certain set of hymns and songs that deeply resonate with them — the melody, the words, an experience they had when they first heard it — and our natural tendency is to give those favorites everything we’ve got . . . but then sort of check out when the next song is one we don’t particularly like.

But here’s the thing: When you sing in a congregation, you’re not just singing for yourself; you’re singing for every other member of the congregation, for their edification and building up in Christ, too. In I Corinthians 14:26, Paul tells us that when we come together, everything we do — including our singing — is done for each other.

Singing hymns is not just an opportunity for each of us, as individuals, to worship God in our own way. It’s an opportunity for the church, as a whole, to worship God together.”

For more on this subject, check out Bob Kauflin’s recent talk, Gathering to Edify and this brief article by John Frame.


August 30, 2011   No Comments

Arnold Schoenberg meets . . . Roger Federer?

Famed 20th century composer Arnold Schoenberg, best known for developing twelve-tone technique, was also an avid tennis fan. He liked it so much he created a fairly elaborate tennis notation system. This article transcribes a Roger Federer volley Schoenberg-style.


August 29, 2011   1 Comment

On eloquence

“The attempt to craft striking and beautiful language makes it possible that the beauty of eloquence can join with the beauty of truth and increase the power of your words. When we take care to create a beautiful way of speaking or writing about something beautiful, the eloquence — the beauty of the form — reflects and honors the beauty of the subject and so honors the truth.

The method and the matter become one, and the totality of both becomes a witness to the truth and beauty of the message. If the glory of Christ is always ultimately our subject, and if he created all things, and if he upholds all things, then bringing the beauty of form into harmony with the beauty of truth is the fullest way to honor the Lord.”

– John Piper, Is There Christian Eloquence? (via)

August 28, 2011   No Comments

Introducing the new ruthsmar.com

Very excited and a bit nervous unveiling the latest incarnation of ruthsmar.com. It’s been a project that I’ve meant to tackle for a couple years now. Seriously, I am my own worst client.

I’m still fleshing out the content on several pages and will be adding more images in the near future, but it’s a start. The best improvement (I think) is to the calendar page.

Before I just had an ugly listing of events, updated in fits and spurts when I would think of it. Hopefully having a nice database system will keep me more on top of that.

I’ve also added some new video and audio clips to the gallery page.

If you see any problems or notice anything weird, please let me know. There are bound to be a few bugs here and there as I switch the system over. Enjoy!

August 27, 2011   No Comments

Music to weather a storm

These are the first pieces that come to mind:

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, 2nd Movement

Andrew Peterson, The Reckoning

I can see the storm descending on the hill tonight
Tall trees are bending to Your will tonight
Oh, let the mighty bow down
At the thundering sound of Your voice

I can hear the howling wind and feel the rain tonight
Every drop a prophet in Your name tonight
Oh, and the song that they sing
It is washing me clean but

How long?
How long?
How long until this curtain is lifted?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?

And I know You hear the cries of every soul tonight
You see the teardrops as they roll tonight
Down the faces of the saints
Who grow weary and faint in Your fields

And the wicked roam the cities and the streets tonight
But when the God of love and thunder speaks tonight
Oh, I believe You will come
Your justice be done, but how long?

How long?
How long?
How long until this curtain is lifted?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?

Oh, the reckoning

You are holiness and grace
You are fury and rest
You are anger and love
You curse and You bless
You are mighty and weak
You are silence and song
You are plain as the day
But you have hidden Your face–
For how long? How long?

And I am standing in the stillness of the reckoning
The storm is past and rest is beckoning
Mighty God, how I fear You
And I long to be near You, O Lord

How long?
How long?
How long until this burden is lifted?
How long?
How long?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?

And I know that I don’t know what I’m asking
I long to look You full in the face
I am ready for the reckoning

August 26, 2011   No Comments

In defense of the day job

I found this post “Why I Work a Day Job” from photographer Nathan Gilmer via Jon Acuff’s blog. Nathan excellently sums up the reasons I too have always had some type of day job, while also building a freelance career.

His third point, the ability to say no to work that you don’t enjoy, is extremely important for me. I’ve met too many creative professionals who should be loving what they do, yet are constantly griping about the badly paying / unfulfilling gigs that they have to take to pay the rent. That’s just no fun, and it’s a really fast way to kill creative energy.

Another reason I’ve appreciated having a day job is that both the regularity of an outside work schedule and the different, mostly non-musical challenges help me focus better when I’m doing creative stuff. Maybe that’s just the way my brain functions, but often an hour of practice before or after work is more productive for me than if I have nothing to do but practice.

And finally, I’ve also been blessed with employers that are both flexible and supportive of my often erratic schedule. Not all jobs jive well with a musician’s odd hours. The main reason I’ve been able to do it is due to the understanding of the organizations and people I’ve worked for.

Do I plan to always have a day job? Not necessarily. Each year I have to realign and reassess as new opportunities come up and life changes. But whatever I end up doing down the line, I won’t be dissing the day job.


August 25, 2011   No Comments

Jazz lessons from Earl Hines

This clip of jazz pianist Earl Hines is delightful. Not only is it packed full of jazz tips/techniques, he’s just having so much fun it makes me want to go attempt playing some jazz piano myself.

Speaking of jazz, I have long not-so-secretly wished I could play jazz harp. When I watch people like Park Stickney I have trouble picking my jaw up off the floor:


August 23, 2011   No Comments

Happy birthday, Claude Debussy!

Today is an important day. First, it’s my mom’s birthday. Happy birthday, Mom!

It’s also the birthday of one of my favorite composers, Claude Debussy. His music actually made me want to practice in the early part of high school because it revealed a world of sound and color unlike anything I’d heard or studied before. I think my piano teacher figured this out quickly and assigned me a fair amount of Debussy. One of my favorites was his piano prelude Voiles (which means sails or veils):

As a harpist, I’ve gotten to also play his wonderful chamber and orchestral music as well. The ending of La Mer, when the brass section emerges from storm of strings, is one of those lump-in-the-throat moments for me.

If you’re on Spotify, here’s a playlist of some of my other favorites.

Do you have a favorite Debussy work?

Edit: A nice list of favorites on Reddit.

August 22, 2011   1 Comment

Speculating vs. sensing

“Thus there is a difference between having an opinion, that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace.

There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man cannot have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind.

So there is a difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a sense of his beauty. The former may be obtained by hearsay, but the latter only by seeing the countenance.

There is a wide difference between mere speculative rational judging any thing to be excellent, and having a sense of its sweetness and beauty. The former rests only in the head, speculation only is concerned in it; but the heart is concerned in the latter.

When the heart is sensible of the beauty and amiableness of a thing, it necessarily feels pleasure in the apprehension. It is implied in a person’s being heartily sensible of the loveliness of a thing, that the idea of it is sweet and pleasant to his soul; which is a far different thing from having a rational opinion that it is excellent.”

– Jonathan Edwards, A Divine and Supernatural Light (via)


August 21, 2011   No Comments


Procrastination, AKA creative uncreativity.

August 20, 2011   No Comments