Serving Christ as an Orchestral Musician

Tom Chevis 11 Oct 16

Six months ago, this article from the Guardian website revealed a small insight into the mind of an orchestral musician, and it makes for rather sobering reading.

Whilst this may come across as a particularly negative experience (“I was forced to learn my instrument by abusive parents who thought classical music was posh”) and not necessarily indicative of what all orchestral musicians will necessarily feel, it does raise some important questions as a Christian.

  1. Are my visions of the professional orchestral lifestyle realistic, or rather rose-tinted?
  2. Am I prepared to sacrifice the normal working hours, sleep, and time spent with family (especially weekends and holidays) for the sake of music?
  3. Have I got realistic expectations about the financial strain that the orchestral lifestyle might put me under?
  4. Am I happy to enter a working environment so “toxic” that “most people have…affairs, abuse alcohol or smoke”?
  5. Do I think the extraordinary performance that comes “once in a blue moon” is really worth it?
  6. If I am intent on embarking on an orchestral career, what precautions can (perhaps “must”) I take to “keep oneself from being polluted by the world”? (James 1:27)

Of course, some people’s experience of orchestral playing, especially when it’s salaried, rather than freelance, may be far more positive, but it’s worth being prepared in advance for the various ways in which sin would love to draw us away from Christ in that environment. To be forewarned will help us be forearmed! Let us not underestimate the schemes of the enemy. For “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

And how does Paul go on? “Therefore, put on the full armour of God…” (v.13) And once we have put on the armour (including wielding the sword of the Spirit - the Word), he instructs us “to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (v.18). His first application? “With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

So one final question: as well as being forearmed with the Word and prayer ourselves as we enter the spiritual battleground that the orchestral lifestyle can be, are we praying for those of our Christian brothers and sisters who are already in professional orchestras? My guess is that we don’t do so very often (if at all), let alone “always”. So, let us indeed pray for them that they will be arming themselves against the devil’s schemes, holding fast to the Lord in His Word and prayer “in order that Satan might not outwit us/them. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:11)