During the past two weeks I've been rehearsing for Sunday's performance of Marty Haugen's Song of Mark, a musical production based on the Gospel of Mark, with a group of musicians and singers that I don't ordinarily work with. It's been a wonderful and interesting experience.
Playing with a new group is always a challenge, and that's good, because when you play with the same people week after week, you start to know what to expect. It takes playing with different people to make a musician grow.
I'm not an excellent musician by any stretch of the imagination. Once I was out of college, I haven't been in a position where I could play my guitar every day. It was more like one or two times per week. That's not conducive to growing as a musician either. And while I had enough basic piano lessons to know how to read music, I'm a self-taught guitarist. The director of this production teaches music and can play just about any instrument. Frankly, if she weren't so nice, I'd be really intimidated.
It's nice being a part of a musical production with my kids. All 3 are taking part. Big Brother is playing electric bass, and Middle Sister and Little Brother are both in the children's chorus. Since there are only about 20 in the entire cast and orchestra, we make up 1/5 of the people involved in this event.
All the music is new to me, and Haugen's music is always a challenge. One of the other guitarists from my Sunday folk group observed that Haugen must hate guitarists when I showed her some of the music, written in tortuous keys and including chords like E-flat, Gm, and the like. Many of the songs are 6 or 8 pages long, so I also had to learn to work in page turns!
I have loved the opportunity to go and play for almost two solid hours at a time--though my arms are really feeling it. I'm playing along with a pianist, a keyboard, and Big Brother on the bass. With only one guitar, I don't have much room for error. That's a challenge too.
I think the challenge is good for me. And certainly playing is good for me. And some of the songs are really, really good. Here's the refrain from my favorite one:
When the day of our God has come to pass,That's been stuck in my head for days--and there's nothing wrong with that.
The skies will ring out with the angels' song.
The last will be first and the first will be last
When the day of our God comes,
The wondrous day of our God.