How your musical gift is like a Sweet Potato Pie

Thanksgiving day in America is steeped in tradition, the most important of which is the tradition for families and friends all over the country to come together and break bread. While everyone has their own favorite food staples, you’re almost sure to find Sweet Potato Pie on the menu at most gatherings. So I thought it would be a fun, visual way to look at a basic, fundamental truth regarding how all singers and musicians in music ministry should see their gift.  I’ll use myself and a fictitious friend in this little story to make it easy.

So imagine with me for a few minutes. It’s Thanks Giving day. I’ve spent all night long making my prize-winning Sweet Potato Pie. But I have to go in to work for a half a day and I don’t want the pie to arrive to the family dinner too late for everyone to enjoy. So I ask my friend to take it with her to the family dinner and I’ll join everyone later.

A few hours later at the family gathering everyone has finished dinner and is starting on the dessert table. A few people get a slice of the Sweet Potato Pie and start raving to my friend about it. “Oh my God Janice this pie is amazing!” “Girl you did your thing with this!” The complements keep coming as word gets around the house about how good the pie is. Meanwhile Janice is glowing and enjoying all the complements. Smiling and thanking everyone for the kind words. “Oh, thank you! God bless you! I’m so glad you like it so much!”

Later I arrive at the dinner after work ready to eat. it doesn’t take long for people to start coming up to me raving about how good my friend’s Sweet Potato Pie is. They go on and on about how great a cook she is, and how they’ve never had pie like that. And how I should really take some lessons from her!

I look at her and smile, but I don’t say anything. After all, I love her. She’s my friend. I would never embarrass her. But I know in my heart that SHE knows she didn’t bake that pie. She only delivered it. And I can’t understand why she wouldn’t give me the credit for it. Why wouldn’t she just say “oh thank you but actually Ron made it. I just delivered it for him”. I may never scold her or punish her or even mention it to her again. But the next time I need to choose someone to deliver something I created I’d be a lot more careful to choose someone whom I know won’t take the glory for themselves.

As singers, musicians, directors and worship leaders…whatever your gift is, we should all endeavor to think of our gifts just like that Sweet Potato Pie.  It’s not our creation. It doesn’t belong to us. We didn’t bake it, we were simply the ones God chose to deliver it to His people. So when the praises, kudos and complements come, we must always be sure to never take the credit for a pie we didn’t bake.

 

50 Choir And Praise Team Songs For Thanksgiving

So Thanksgiving is upon us already! And if your music department is anything like ours you must be thinking “isn’t there anything else we can do for Thanksgiving besides Thank You by Walter Hawkins?? I’m glad you asked! The family over on the Fan Page has done it again, creating yet another fantastic list of great songs.

This time I asked for songs great for Thanksgiving. You’ll see songs tagged as good for choirs, praise teams or both. As usual I like to embed the actual post here in the article, because these lists have a tendency to keep growing over the next couple of days.

So click on the like button of you’re not connected yet, then click on the comment button below to go straight to the live post on the Fan Page. If you don’t see the post below right away give it a couple of seconds to load. May not work in Google Chrome.

Vocal health for the holidays

The Christmas season is upon us, and with it comes all the usual things we think about this time of year. Lots more visiting, lots more shopping, running around- and for us, a lot more singing. So this time, maybe a little more-so than other times of the year, we really need to be a bit more aware of how we’re treating our voices. Here are some simple things to be mindful of this time of year.

1. Stay Healthy!

You can’t sing at your best if you’re sick, so job one for the busy singer is do as much as possible to stay healthy. Believe it or not the number one way to avoid getting sick is frequent hand-washing. Most of the “stuff” we end up with happens because we touched something with someone’s germs on it – a hand-rail, a door-knob, a phone- and then touched our face for some reason. Washing your hands often and/or keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer with you can go a long way towards keeping you crud-free.

In addition to that though, it’s just a good idea to do the normal things many of us overlook or just plain avoid. Like getting the Flu shot every year, bundling up well, staying dry and making sure we get important vitamins our immune system needs to work at it’s best.

2. Drink water!

It’s very important for everyone to drink water on a regular basis, but it’s even more important for a singer for a lot of obvious reasons. But here’s probably the most important reason this time of year. Usually most of us will get some kind of head cold despite our best efforts. When all that phlegm starts draining, it can sit in your throat and on your vocal cords, hindering your ability to sing at your best. Drinking water on a regular basis keeps phlegm thinner so it drains off your cords easier and there’s less build-up.

3. Watch what, when and how much you eat!

This time of year there is always an abundance of food.  And many of those foods can cause swelling or inflamation, even irritation of the vocal cords. Dairy products, for example, actually creates a lot of phlegm in the body and, for many singers,  should be avoided altogether for at least a day before a singing engagement. Other common holiday foods like sugar and pretty-much all white processed foods can cause problems for singers. The key is to eat everything in moderation.

NEVER eat a really big meal within two hours of a singing engagement. In addition to the extra bloating and weight it places on your stomach and diaphragm (which makes it harder for you to breathe properly for singing) eating a big meal before singing will make you tired, less alert and just more lethargic overall. That’s because after a big meal most of your body’s energy is being diverted to the task of digesting the food.

4. Warm up!

We know how important warming up is for singers (even though most of us still don’t do it), but when the weather turns cold it becomes even more important. Just like all the other muscles in your body, your vocal cords don’t work as good when they’re cold. Take some extra time before a holiday engagement and get your voice good and warmed up before singing.  You’ll be glad you did.

The key to vocal health during the holidays really isn’t much different than the rest of the year when you think about it. It”s not about living a life of deprivation by any stretch. It’s really more about simply doing things a little smarter, with a little more thought and with a little more moderation around those times when you have singing engagements planned. Of course, the most important thing you can do to keep your voice healthy all year round is to training it by taking vocal lessons! Get started with my free 5 day course below.

Image courtesy of magerymajestic FreeDigitalPhotos.net