Matt's blog

The story of me, an American in Edinburgh, Scotland finding my place as a musician, a husband, a father and a Christian.

A Tough Spot

I'm in a tough spot right now. Life has been chaos for the last few months, especially the last month and a half. Now we're in Edinburgh, mostly settled in, and the smoke is starting to clear. I'm coming to realize that I don't have any clue what I'm doing with myself. Over the last three years I came to identify myself as a student, first and foremost. Now, I'm not a student anymore and I realize I've lost a huge part of my identity.

Compounding Factor No. 1:
My sense of desperation is magnified by the fact that with my Music degree I am just about as qualified for jobs over here as if I were just straight out of high school. I feel like my B.A. in guitar performance qualifies me only to pursue an M.A. in guitar performance. Also, my church music emphasis, while not worth a whole lot over in the States, is absolutely worthless here.

Compounding Factor No. 2:
In my last semester at Whitworth I took Christian Theology as part of my church music emphasis. The professor recommended that I go on to study theology with the goal of entering academia and teaching at a university. He told me that he has only once before recommended a white male to go into adademia. Later, I heard from other professors, "Hey, your theology prof told me he thinks you should go into theology. If he says you should, it's something you should really, really, think about."

Compounding Factor No. 3:
"Stee na' de' noose?" the guy at the supermarket asks me after he's done ringing me up. Felling like a total idiot, I have to shrug my shoulders and say with a stupid grimace, "I'm sorry, I don't really follow...?" "Stee na' de' noose?" he repeats. Thinking I picked out at least the word 'day' and taking a shot in the dark and reply, "Yes, it is still a nice day out." We look at each other awkwardly for a moment, I get the feeling neither of us knows what just transpired, so I say, "Cheers," and leave the store. Ok, it's not really a huge deal, but every now and then things come up that really remind me that I'm a foreigner here and that we didn't just move to the east coast or something, but we actually moved clear across the ocean.

Ok, I'm Done With compounding Factors Now:
They weren't really connecting as linearly as I thought they would, so we'll just change gears. The suggestion that I study theology gave me a new perspective on things. I loved that theology class. It was the first time that I'd heard someone say that to worship God fully you must do so with your intellect as well as with your heart and your deeds, and it didn't sound like ivory tower snobbery. I feel like that one semester of study drastically changed my faith for the better and opened up to me parts of God that I had never seen before. That class, mainly that professor, taught me that I can really know God, and know things about God, and state them with certainty without being arrogant or closed minded. In the past I guess I thought that a certain amount of arrogant dogmatism was necessary in theology, so much so that I didn't even really want to take this class. However, I learned that theology can be done in humility and reverence, and can be done not as the study of a subject, but as the unfolding of a relationship, because what we study is actually the living God.

Suddenly music seems really trivial to me.

Let me qualify that. I want it to stand on its own up there because it is a substantial change in attitude for me, but it does need qualification. The academic study of music seems trivial to me. The music that I make with my guitar, however, now seems more important. The actual act of musical creation vs. the study of human musical achievements set in light of what I know about God makes academic music seem like trivia to me. I know the academic side of music will always have its place in my life, after all, good performances come only from informed musical decisions, but I don't think I could feel good about giving an advanced music degree the time and effort it would require.

Is Music Out? Is Theology In?
I have a church music degree. I have always thought that the place I would be happiest would be in a music directing position in a church. Through college I also gave thought to becoming a university professor in music, mainly in order to give lessons to students who really cared about the instrument, but also because I find the history of music to be very interesting, but generally taught very poorly. As I've said though, academic music doesn't seem like such an appealing option anymore. I've thought of studying theology, perhaps getting ordained, and then being some sort of "Super Church Music Guy" who has a respectable background in both music and theology, as opposed to most pastors and church musicians who seem to be quite ignorant of the other's field. Or, should I go into academic theology? So far, the two other students in our building are both Americans studying theology at the university. Is that some sort of hint? Could I still get a Master's in guitar performance just because I want one? In the immediate future, what sort of job should I get right now? Should I settle for being a secretary at the school (for which I'm simultaneously over- and under-qualified) or should I wait and just try to get a job more pertinent to what I want to do with my life, such as working with the Scottish equivalent of Young Life (for which I am under-qualified because of my massive ignorance of Scottish schools and culture)?

2 Responses to “A Tough Spot”

  1. # Blogger Anastasia

    i love that you're blogging again! I have a long comment about this, but no time right now. i'll get back to you.  

  2. # Anonymous Anonymous

    tkoo you a wile to get here. but at least your here.  

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