For December’s Made to Create interview, I got to interview my favorite person, who happens to be very creative. My husband Dan loves music. He’s taught me so much about how to appreciate music and be confident in making it. He gives voice lessons and does some composing. His dedication to the art he loves inspires me.
Sheri: Hi Dan, thanks for making time for this interview.
Dan: Thank you. I’ve really enjoyed reading what previous interviewees have said. Obviously, you’re my wife, so it’s pretty neat that I get to do this with you as well.
S: I agree. 🙂 Let’s talk about your musical journey. Is there any one event that helped you realize you could compose your own music?
D: I don’t know that there really is. I didn’t gain a good understanding of basic part writing and chord structures until I reached adulthood, so I didn’t really compose music before that. Even now, you’re probably being overly charitable to call me a “composer” :). I consider myself primarily a singer and even a conductor before being a composer. In answer to your question though, singing and listening to beautiful music has probably been the greatest factor in helping me produce my own. There’s something really special about creating a piece of music that others can sing or play, you know? It feels like I’m sharing a piece of myself with the world and it feels good.
Me playing one of Dan’s recent compositions, Snow Dance.
S: Yes, it is really special. Music connects listeners, musicians, and singers in a way nothing else can. What obstacles have you faced in pursuing music?
D: I grew up with four part a cappella singing, but anything outside of fairly narrow parameters was foreign to me. I remember coming into my early teenage years wide-eyed at the ocean of music out there. When I got the chance, I sampled everything–choral and classical to heavy metal and rap. I had to learn to find some stability and a set of core values that I could use to determine what music affected me positively and aided the growth of God’s kingdom.
S: So a lack of exposure and then too much. I’m sure many of us have experienced that sequence. What would you say to someone who wants to compose music, but is afraid to try? Me, in other words. 🙂
D: Anyone can do it. If a simple tune runs through your head, write it down. If you can’t do that yourself, get a friend to do it for you. I’m guessing if you read this the chances are fairly high that you know someone who could help you get it on paper. Or you could always just record it using a smartphone. Making music is something that everyone should get a chance to do. I dabble in the other arts and I’m terrible at most of them. But everyone should get to try if intrigues them.
Writing music is neat because there are forms that can be followed to create beauty, just like we need a noun and a verb, punctuation and capitalization to write a sentence. Yet within that structure we find countless variations. Well, music is that way too, I can create something by laying it out correctly, but making it sound really good is often a very intuitive process. For me, that involves a lot of trial and error. You really do get better at it if you keep trying. 🙂
S: You mentioned dabbling in the other arts. Do other forms of creativity inspire you to compose?
D: Sometimes. Things like color and mood are very important to me. I try to intuit what a text is calling for to let it bloom. Or if I’m writing music without text I have to think about what response I want to evoke. It’s really a lot like painting a picture or writing a story.
S: I love the idea of music blooming out of text or your emotions. How has making music helped you grow closer to God?
D: Realizing that there is something more powerful within the music than what I can explain rationally. Something that speaks to the soul. That is a nearly universal response (although we can’t agree on what kind of music does that). God must have placed that within us as part of our souls. What does He really mean when He says we are created in His image? I feel music is a significant part of that. Creating music allows me to bring an acceptable, unique offering that pleases God. Whether you write music or prefer other kinds of creativity, God exults in that creativity and wants each of us to use our ability to create.
S: Yes, I think any kind of godly creativity is worship at its root, music especially. Throughout the Bible music is shown as a deep reaction of a soul to the goodness of God.
Thank you for discussing this with me. I feel like I’ve peeked through a window into a musician’s world.
And thank you, readers, for reading this. Has someone inspired you with their creativity? Send them my way! I’m looking for more interviewees for 2017.