As I sat in rehearsal last night with the Knoxville Choral Society, our Artistic Director, Dr. Eric Thorson was correcting us regarding the entrance to a piece of music. In his correction he uttered some of the most profound words I have heard in a long time, “The music begins with the intention to sing.” In context, he was instructing us on breathing and vowel placement before sound ever comes from our voices.
In reality, I think he was saying so much more. How many times in life do we plunge headfirst into a new challenge, a chore that needs to get done, or just into the rote of everyday living? Shouldn’t we be more intentional about how we approach life? How many times have I wished I could begin something over from the very beginning so I could get it right? The absolute worst, though, is the number of times I wish I could retrieve words from the air where they were just spoken. I should be more intentional.
Don’t misunderstand, spontaneity can be a beautiful part of life, too. Some of my best memories come from “spur of the moment” decisions. I am not suggesting that we become so structured that we lose the fun and joy that comes from taking life as it comes. I am thinking, though, of something much greater. To take just a few moments before beginning a new project to think and plan ahead. To pause just before words come from my mouth to make sure they are edifying words and not discouraging words. To carefully plan a strategy to meet a goal or a new challenge. Shouldn’t all these things begin with the intention and not simply with the act itself?
Just as my beloved professor was instructing me in the art of good choral singing and technique, he was giving me words for life. “The music begins with the intention to sing.”