It’s amazing how a “one-liner” can stick with you forever! Years ago a violin teacher, Amy, shared an unforgettable one-liner which summarizes most everything I have endeavored to do for much of my life. At a violin lesson years ago I was sawing through a seemingly boring and nondescript exercise in my Kreutzer, when Amy interjected a teacherly command: “Play it like a love song!”
This concept revolutionized my practice sessions. Heretofore, violin (and piano) teachers had stressed metronome-driven precision. Now Amy was setting me free to transform even the most mechanistic of studies into a vehicle for interpretive expression. The Kreutzer exercises came alive. Suddenly they were beautiful—as I learned to play them with my soul as well as with my fingers.
I grew up in the era of heart-rending love songs and idealistically elegant films. The Hit Parade featured pop classic crooners such as Frank Sinatra and Perry Como—and the cinema portrayed love affairs framed in romantic settings. Though some negative-minded folks might bad-mouth my early conditioning as being “unreal”, I praise God for it. Beauty and elegance via entertainment, along with the beauty and natural elegance which my mother modeled every single day in our home, taught me something vital about living—and endowed me with a working philosophy, as succinctly summarized in Amy’s words: “Play it like a love song.”
No, beauty and romantic elegance are not “unreal” when we attempt to bring these qualities to the most mundane of tasks, thereby inspiring and uplifting the moment—when our concept of outer beauty mirrors a quality of the inner soul. We are free to choose, free to create with whatever we have at hand, free to play life like a love song—therefore highlighting our material reality whenever possible, with manifestations of inner beauty.
When we reflect on our loving, creative God—the Author of beauty (material as well as spiritual)—we realize that “playing it like a love song” can radically exceed some merely human philosophy on how to live. Although beauty and/or romantic elegance need not take the form of a 1940s Hollywood production—or, for that matter, a Kreutzer exercise—the essence of gracious inner beauty can be palpable in diverse forms as well as applicable to most every circumstance and area of life depending on how ardently we love life, how we view life, and most vitally how we think! Again, we are free to choose.
The intrinsic character of God’s beauty materialized at creation, when He spoke the beautiful Heavens and earth into existence. Many centuries later, an Apostle whom we revere expressed God’s command for humankind through the priority of the “whatsoever things”: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” Philippians 4:8
Are there moments when your life exercises seem drab and routine, and your duties are characterized by metronome-driven precision? Here’s an idea you might want to try: Play it like a love song!
Margaret L. Been, 2014