The Jazz Theologian

The Jazz Theologian


Finding the Groove Live: Acoustics of Listening

posted by Robert Gelinas

I believe that listening is part of the essence of jazz.

"The most important thing I look for in a musician is whether he knows how to listen."  Duke Ellington

"Jazz is primarily a heard reality…"  Kirk Byron Jones

Listen_2Listening is what helps us make the most of every moment.  There is no such thing as "just a moment."  The gospel is about incarnation and resurrection.  Incarnate living means that we have time to listen to others.  Resurrected living means that we have time to listen to God.

Jazz musicians have a few techniques that help us create the acoustics to a listening life.

  • Having time:  In the same way that a drummer keeps time we can to.  Perched in the back of the ensemble in the worst seat they keep time because it is the best seat to serve the others.  What would it look like to live this as a metaphor for ministry and leadership?

  • The Break:  This is a technique that jazz incorporates so that it is easier to listen to a particular person as they solo.  It is the practice of creating space in the music, a planned moment of disruption.  God gave the ancient Hebrews a way to "break" for the sake of listening:  Sabbath & Selah.  Do you have any insight how you have sought to live these concepts?

  • Developing Your Ear:  Dictation is the process of listening to a piece of music and transcribing it to paper.  Tone Matching is a call and response game in which to musicians of the same instruments try to match what the other plays.  How might we apply these concepts to developing our ear to hear others and God?

Stay in the groove,

robert



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Gary

posted August 16, 2007 at 7:49 am


What a powerful presentation regarding listening. I really appreciated the develpment of listening to others and God through the pictures of the incarnation and resurrection. Thank you!
I once attended a powerful speaking seminar entitled “Speaking by Listening” by a well regarded speaker [preacher] from accross the pond by the name of Dick Lucas. I would recommend any of his books and commentaries.
God uniquely uses my trips to Denver to speak to me through others. He was faithful to speak to me this week, and inclined my ear to listen. For me, often others become the conduit through which God speaks. Wiersbe said, “Ministry happens when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God”. Thanks for listening to God so that you can be that loving channel.



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cb

posted August 16, 2007 at 8:23 am


Gary – Wonderful words! Thank you for being a conduit as well.
On Developing Your Ear -
It’s no wonder people seeking direction from God ask Him to speak to them in black and white, to give them a map, to write on the wall. That’s the way people are used to hearing God – visually, by READING the Bible. Even in many churches, little scripture is spoken without citing the verse and encouraging people to follow along. As a result, the EAR is not trained to recognize the word of God.
One alternative I’ve found is using audio Bibles. Many versions are available on CD or tape. Instead of turning on talk radio, pop in a CD and listen to God. Even allow it to play in the background, softly, while doing other things. I’m surprised the number of times my ear will tune into something almost subconsciously and I’ll hit rewind to listen more intently to a particular verse.
Most importantly, LISTENING to scripture helps me recognize God’s still, small voice when He speaks directly to me.



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Christina

posted August 16, 2007 at 4:33 pm


A few months ago, I was reminded of the link between time and listening in a rather dramatic way…One morning, in my work as a nurse, I rushed into a patient room and quickly began assessment of the patient and told him I’d be back in about an hour with his meds. I returned in the time frame and explained the meds, and what I had in mind for other nursing interventions for the remainder of the day. Near the end of my monologue, the patient interrupted and redirected me: “you people come in here with your agenda, and don’t even take time to sit down and talk to people as human beings!” I was moving quickly because I knew it was going to be a tougher day than usual, and I was tempted to say, “we can talk in just a moment.” But I sat down and the patient confided to me some challenges in his faith as he realized that time was running out. I didn’t have answers for him, but I was able to be his audience. Over the next 2-3 weeks, I noticed that he had few visitors, and I made it a point to poke my head in to greet him, eventhough he wasn’t “my patient.” He died about 4 weeks after our initial encounter.
It is SO important to be willing to have the resurrected Christ in us for the purpose of being the incarnation of the Gospel for others–as “no man knows when his hour will come” Ecc 9:12. Sometimes, as a nurse, I get tired of having this reality in my face, but on the other hand I am grateful to be regularly reminded that this is part of my purpose as a practicing Christian.



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Jonathan Boyd

posted August 16, 2007 at 9:46 pm


Developing our Spiritual Ear:
I understand that noise and pressure can create confusion in our life that will prohibit us from hearing God. This is what I was overwhelmed to discover during last nights Bible study. I’m not intentionally taking time to listen to God during my busiest times of the day. I pray and I read the Bible daily for the most part but I’m not slowing down enough to really listen to God. I believe I have all of the classic symptoms of not listening. Such as, listening for the loud voice instead of the still small voice, Fear of what God will say to me, and doubting what GOD is saying versus what’s in my heart. Listening is a very scary reality since the Bible says that HIS sheep (ME) will know HIS voice and another they will not follow. Confusion creates doubt and that will lead to unbelief which will rob us of our heritage with God.



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Rebecca Schaefer

posted August 17, 2007 at 5:09 pm


This morning…I listened. It was so refreshing. Then, I sat in my proch swing and I listened some more. After that, I took a walk and listened. I actually listened to myself think. I asked God some questions about my mental gymnastics and when I listened for His answers, they came.
They are in my journal now. It was anything but, “Quiet time”. I didn’t have Sabbath, so to speak, but the Lord of the Sabbath sure had the attention of my ears, heart and mind.
When I got into the office, I wanted to tell somebody…so I ran the whole thing by our receptionist (a great listener). It dawned on me that of all JAZZ songs, the Blues need to be sung the most and yet a Blues song is typically the hardest to vocalize. Musical instruments can express the intent of a Blues lament, but Spirit-filled empathy only comes from ensemble community.



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KM

posted August 17, 2007 at 10:45 pm


The info on the break/sabbath/selah (i.e. “stop and listen”) made me think of fasting.
I don’t do it very often; I mean, it’s kind of severe when you think about it… but I always come out of the period repurposed and recommitted, and if not with a clear answer then having freshly submitted myself to God’s timing.
And although those fasts usually involve no food, I’ve also gone into different kinds of breaks: breaks from certain situations, responsibilities, media, and/or even people, lol. The purpose is the same though. I suppose I also believe that beyond spiritual benefit, the act-stop cycle is inherent to nature, and that in submitting to it I’m doing myself some good.



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2007 at 10:27 pm


I’m real good at talking. I talk to God all the time: from my first consciousness in the morning (“Good morning, Lord), and all during the day and evening to bedtime (“Good night, Lord. Thank you for another day of breath.”)…In my “quiet time,” as I prepare to teach my “Bible Study,” as I read my 2020 VISION Prayer Journal… I thought I was “praying unceasingly…” And I supposed I am – but only to a limited effect.
I’d guess He likes hearing my tell him how much I appreciate seeing his majesty in the mountain sunset, ask for his mercy in the lives of my friends in need, and and thank him for the close parking spot at Wal-Mart. BUT — I wonder if he wishes I’d let get more than just a “word in edgewise” sometimes…
I need to listen. The other night I did. I tossed and turned and tried to ignore Him all night. At 4 a.m. I got up, turned on the computer and spent 2 hours listening – typing out what He was saying.
I’m an editor – I edit everything I read; I can’t help it…I even read magazines with a pen in my hand to fix the errors…anyway, when I write I usually print my creation out and spend as much time tweaking it as I did writing it in the first place.
When I printed out God’s Note at 6 a.m., I read over it, and put down my pen. How can you edit God? He is complete without me. I can’t wait to hear more. If I can just keep my mouth shut…



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2007 at 10:29 pm


I’m real good at talking. I talk to God all the time: from my first consciousness in the morning (“Good morning, Lord), and all during the day and evening to bedtime (“Good night, Lord. Thank you for another day of breath.”)…In my “quiet time,” as I prepare to teach my “Bible Study,” as I read my 2020 VISION Prayer Journal… I thought I was “praying unceasingly…” And I supposed I am – but only to a limited effect.
I’d guess He likes hearing my tell him how much I appreciate seeing his majesty in the mountain sunset, ask for his mercy in the lives of my friends in need, and and thank him for the close parking spot at Wal-Mart. BUT — I wonder if he wishes I’d let get more than just a “word in edgewise” sometimes…
I need to listen. The other night I did. I tossed and turned and tried to ignore Him all night. At 4 a.m. I got up, turned on the computer and spent 2 hours listening – typing out what He was saying.
I’m an editor – I edit everything I read; I can’t help it…I even read magazines with a pen in my hand to fix the errors…anyway, when I write I usually print my creation out and spend as much time tweaking it as I did writing it in the first place.
When I printed out God’s Note at 6 a.m., I read over it, and put down my pen. How can you edit God? He is complete without me. I can’t wait to hear more. If I can just keep my mouth shut…



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JonPaul

posted August 21, 2007 at 4:44 pm


Being a sufferer of chronic verbal vomit, and strong self will, making a concerted effort at developing my “listening ears and heart” has been quite the challenge for me over the recent few years.
The other day I was in the kitchen with my wife and I handed her a glass upon request. As I watched my hand deliver the glass I noticed that my grip on the glass didn’t release until she had firmly grasped it. If I had released any earlier she wouldn’t have had a grasp and would have dropped it and the glass would have fallen and shattered. At first my realization of my deliberate actions only struck me as ordinary.
The more I thought about this I realized that this could be symbolic of communication and God’s hand in my life. I realized that for me, listening is 50% of all communication and without a proper grasp before the transmission of the message is complete the reciever of the message, which would be me, often drops the glass as God is handing it to me and I am left watching it shatter on the floor.
I can look back on all the forced change, hurried decisions, and hastily laid plans that were based on my timing and my will. More often than not they ultimately led to many broken pieces due to a failed grasp on what God was trying to show me all along.
So now for listening…I pray that my ears and heart will grow in their receptive abilities so that I may be filled with His will so that I may serve His people, all people.



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