The Music of Your Life

[M]y father has conducted some of the most famous orchestra’s in the world. The London Symphony Orchestra. The Berlin Philharmonic. The Academy of St. Martins in the Field. The Boston Symphony Orchestra. And the Vienna Mozart Ensemble.

Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock

Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock

You might find this astonishing. Especially when I tell you his primary profession for his entire career has been as a research biologist and university professor. But that hasn’t hindered him from conducting some of the most famous works of classical music ever composed. Masterpieces such as Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony”, Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”, Mozart’s “Magic Flute”, Pachelbel’s “Canon”, Handel’s “Messiah”, and Bach’s “Brandenburg Concertos.”

I remember the first time I saw my father conduct an orchestra. A truly magical moment. I was just six-years-old. That evening my father was conducting Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6 in F major, op. 68.” One of his favorite pieces. And it showed. I watched with wonder the fluidity of my father’s movements. The graceful sweep of his hands. The pointing precision of his fingers. Passion and pleasure poured forth from his musical direction. The orchestra faithfully followed his every move. My father gave a magnificent performance. And he did it all from the comfort of the living room sofa.

As a boy I vividly recall bedtime on Friday nights. With no school the next day we often enjoyed a special treat as we went to sleep. Dad’s classical music. As Mom helped my two sisters and I change into our PJ’s, Dad put music on the living room stereo. Both Mom and Dad came to tuck us into bed with hugs and kisses, bedtime stories and prayer. All done to the soothing melody of oboe, violin, clarinet, flute and cello. Mom and Dad left our bedroom doors open at night so we could hear the soft music drifting in. The effect? Simply enchanting.

One night, soon after Mom and Dad left my room, I got up to ask for a glass of water. Standing in the hallway I peaked through some plants into the living room and saw my father. He sat on the sofa facing the stereo. Lights were off yet his form was illuminated with moonlight and streetlight from the open picture window. As the orchestra played its magnificent music my father got swept up in its beauty. Like a seasoned professional he lifted his hands and passionately conducted the music. Well, perhaps “conducting” isn’t quite the right word. “Following” may be better. To my young eyes, it first appeared as though my father was leading the orchestra. But I soon discovered he was brilliantly following it instead.

How I wish you could have seen the delight with which my father followed the music. He didn’t write it or perform it. Yet as an avid admirer he learned to follow it. His arms dipped and swayed. His wrists twisted and flicked. His fingers beckoned and pointed. He followed every blast from the brass. He followed every strain from the strings. He followed every warble from the woodwinds. He followed every pulse of the percussion.

From the living room sofa he performed fabulously. He displayed passion in his direction with no hint of nerves. And why shouldn’t he? My father knew he couldn’t fail. There was a conductor greater than he who led the music. A conductor of celebrated skill who knew how to direct classical compositions. Dad could follow the music to his hearts content knowing the final results would sound superb.

My father’s discovery is cause for joy. Not just his joy. But yours and mine as well.

For hasn’t God offered us the same opportunity? The opportunity to conduct the music of life as magnificently as a world-class symphony? Each of us has a song. A song given to us the day we were born. A song that goes on every day of our lives. The question worth asking is who is conducting? You or the Master Musician? The God who gave you your song has left the choice up to you. You can lead your own life or you can follow his lead.

If your music feels flat, if the melody seems dissonant, perhaps it’s time to reconsider the conductor. Why not ask the Master Musician to take over as director of the music of your life. He will take your minor notes and major melodies and turn them into a sweet symphony.

To the casual bystander it may look as though you are conducting the song of your own life. But you and my father know the truth. The credit for beautiful music must go to the true director. The praise, honor and glory belong to him.

So go ahead. Play your life with passion. Live your life to the full. There’s no need to be nervous or to fear failure. With the Master Musician directing the music, the song of your life can sound as sweet as any symphony. We need not understand all the details of how the conductor creates such beautiful music from our lives. Only that he does.

“Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things!” Psalm 98:1 ESV

Question: Do you have any fun memories of your father or mother that have taught you something about God or about living life to the full?  (Share your thoughts in the comments)


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  • Richard Hickam

    I used to conduct in front of the family stereo on Friday nights when I was a boy. It was my mother who encouraged my love of great classical music and of God. I particularly remember conducting the different trumpets in Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Two Trumpets”. Great memories. Thanks Todd.

  • Ahhhh, one of my favorite pieces to conduct! So joyful and upbeat. I just love the combination of short strings and trumpet voluntary. Thanks for mentioning this piece, Richard.