Friday, March 28, 2008

Steinway and a Value System

Why do people want to drive a Bugatti Veyron? What does it have that makes my little "Lexi" a peon-mobile? What makes a person spend $2million+ on Steward Weitzman shoes? Is it the red carpet? Why wear Vacheron Constantin’s Tour de l’Ille watch? It doesn't tell better time than your Timex. How about Clive Christian No1 for Woman as your number one feminine scent? One can't see it (the scent), so its not free advertising or a status symbol like the others. Why would one want to write with The Mystery pen created by Montblanc and Van Cleef & Arpels? My Bic from Walmart works terrifically and if I lose it (which I'm very prone to do)... oh well. Why go broke to taste the Grand Opulence Sundae, Fritz Knipschildt's handmade chocolates , or drink Kopi Luwak coffee? Don't you like Leatherby's and See's candy? And by the way, be thankful for your Starbucks... whatever. So tell me why would a pianist desire the Steinway? You had to ask, didn't you?!

Steinway and Sons state: "It's difficult to tell merely by looking at various grand pianos how technologically advanced they may be. This is because every piano since 1859, has tried to follow the lead of Steinway.
It was in that year that Steinway & Sons first combined two major innovations: a full cast-iron plate, allowing enormous string tensions, and the patented Steinway over-strung scale, which permits longer bass strings for more volume and better resonance.
By the end of the 19th Century Steinway's technical leadership was unparalleled, refining and improving virtually every aspect of the piano. And the parade of advancements continues to this day, with 115 patents including the following:
The Steinway Diaphragmatic® soundboard which provides freer vibration for rich tonal response.
The patented Accelerated® action, giving the player instant response, as well as the ability to repeat notes as quickly as a key is struck.
The Hexagrip® pinblock assuring precise, longer-lasting tuning.
The finest most advanced pianos in the world today are Steinways. But the finest Steinway of all will be the one we build tomorrow."

There are some things worth splurging for. I have to admit that the Steinway is one of those items. I don't profess to have answers to all of the questions first listed, but those of you who play classical piano the answer to the last one is evident. The look, feel, and sound of the Steinway is unlike any other in its genre.

You may ask why I mentioned all the very distinguished, elaborate, exclusive, and extremely expensive items prior to the piano. Quite frankly, I thought it was interesting researching why people are willing to pay exorbitant prices for certain things. My point here is that people hold different values on different things. Sometimes its quite humorous and/or sad to observe people's value system. I have friends who love fine dining but can't afford to pay for health insurance. I also knew a man once who bought an exclusive (and pricey) women's fragrance for his fiance that could only be purchased in France but at the same time he could have used that money to make a down payment on a much needed car. It is kind of funny, isn't it? But only is it funny to people who think like me. My value does not lie where theirs does. My value is in music and quality sound. Would I neglect health insurance for a while? Would I forgo a new car and keep a rattletrap? Could I scrimp on groceries (as long as my son is healthy and nourished)? ABSOLUTELY! Maybe my value system is somewhat skewed to some people just as theirs might be skewed to my value system.

The Steinway piano not only sets a world standard to how a piano should look, feel, and sound, but also, as the Steinway company states it, it is "a treasured possession that grows in value over the course of time." According to Forbes, the retail value of the Steinway over the past 10 years has appreciated 200%. In addition, vintage Steinways command a 4.3 times higher retail cost than the original cost.

By way of comparison, the Steinway outperforms other symbols of luxury renowned for their enduring financial value such as gold, the Mercedes Benz, wine, and vintage powerboats ( Since 1853, Steinways have been built to a standard and not to a price. They are pure quality built by hand. It takes one year to build this piano. "The best products are designed not so much to meet specifications and fulfill customer requirements as they are to match or surpass customer expectations. Steinway & Sons refuses to skimp on materials, labor and effort in the construction of a musical instrument that is as close to perfection as the hand and cunning of man can make it."— Christopher Knowlton, reporter "What America Makes Best"Fortune magazine, June 1988 Due to their quality of sound, feel, and the stage presence, 90% of all concert pianists choose the Steinway to perform on.

Have you ever had the opportunity to play on a Steinway? Notice the sensitivity in how the keys respond to your finger touch. Its like a well-trained horse under the master and all it takes is a subtle touch to make the horse obey. Notice the beauty of the silence and the roaring fff. Notice how the melody almost seems to have transformed into a crystal bell. Notice the beauty in all the chords coming together in one giant symphony of an instrument. Notice how it inspires and commands its performer to excellence. Notice the regal stance it takes all alone pre-concert... how utterly confident in itself it appears. Notice its invaluable worth to a pianist:

"I have long admired Steinway pianos for their qualities of tone clarity, pitch consistency, touch responsiveness, and superior craftsmanship." Billy Joel

"I insist on Steinway. In concert, in recording, even in my home. I use only the best and the best is Steinway." Roger Williams

"I choose the Steinway piano because of its rich depth of tone, gigantic range of timbres, and the unique individuality of each instrument." Marcus Roberts

"The more I hear nuances of sound, the more I realize the wealth of colors only the Steinway produces." Murray Perahia

Notice the worth of a Steinway to a banker:

"Steinway Piano Sold at $390,000. A Record.""The Steinway grand piano that reigned for a half-century in the upstairs lounge of the Martin Beck Theatre on West 45th Street in New York City, was sold at auction to a New York investment banker for $390,000 — the highest price ever paid for a musical instrument or for any piece of 19th century furniture."— The New York Times March 27, 1980.(Note: This piano was later sold to a private museum for $1.2 million.)

Now... Notice your utter disdain of electronic keyboards and cheaply made pianos and your old value system.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Music turned English Teacher

I apologize once again to all my readers. Just to keep you informed of what's happening in my dot on the map. I have recently taken over a high school English teaching position. Every day I teach 8th through 11th grade English and tutor 12th grade on the side. Its so much fun and I get to take Noah with me every day (that's a blessing). Many of the teachers don't mind helping out when they have a slow period. Noah loves the attention from all the students and they adore him.

Also, Jeremy and I have joined several outreach teams our church has recently launched. We have been having incredible prayer meetings and "business" meetings about our city. I am so excited about what God is going to do here. Consequently, I have not had the time OR ENERGY to keep up with my blog the way I had been. Hopefully I will get new zest and start blogging away. Keep checking back I will at least promise to post something every week (Lord willing). =)

Friday, March 21, 2008

God is Speaking

I have been reading one of my favorite blogger's posts about Chantal Sebire, a former school teacher in France who has been battling cancer for 8 years. This cancer has grotesquely deformed her face with one very bloodshot eyeball protruding out of its socket. Not only did it disfigure her face, it also damaged her senses of taste, smell, and sight leaving her blind. The issue in a nutshell is that the lady, who is constantly in pain and embarrassed of her disfigurement, tried to receive permission from the French government to have euthanasia administered. She told the government if they wouldn't help her end her own life that she would find a way on her own. Sadly, two days after reading the first post I learned that this lady was found dead (story). I did not mention this story to delve into the legal issues but rather to bring up a song by Mandisa I heard that makes me think of this tragic story. The message is that God, and only God, is Sovereign and in control. He is perfect and who are we to question Him, what He allows, or doesn't allow? Maybe God is speaking through it all. He knows how to speak to us and He'll use and do whatever He has to (He knows us better than we know ourselves because He created us) to tell us He loves us. If you can, find a way to listen to this song. The first time I heard it (and every time since), it resonated in the core of my spirit. I've prayed this prayer before. I want to be spoken to in the sunrise, the loss of a loved one, etc. I want God to be able to tell me through what He allows to happen or through the beauty of His creation that He loves me. It speaks to all of us. Read these lyrics or watch:

Have you ever heard a love song

That set your spirit free

Have you ever watched a sunrise

And felt you could not breathe

What if it's Him

What if it's God speaking

Have you ever cried a tear that

You could not explain

Have you ever met a stranger

That already knew your name

What if it's Him

What if it's God speaking

Who knows how He'll get a hold of us

Get our attention to prove He is enough

He'll do and He'll use

Whatever He wants to

To tell us I love you

Have you ever lost a loved one

Who you thought should still be here

Do you know what it feels like

To be tangled up in fear

What if He's somehow involved

What if He's speaking through it all

His ways are higher

His ways are better

Though sometimes strange

What could be stranger

Than God in a manger

God is speaking

I love you

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wilbanks family Update

Whew! After several weeks of excitement we are finally back to normal. Our family had the wonderful opportunity to go to the No Limits Conference hosted by my home church in Sacramento, Ca. We arrived back home and everyone still had the plague from when we left. I thought we had escaped unscathed... (knock on wood). Grandpa and Grandma Wilbanks came in the day after we got back from Sacramento and I thought I'd take Grandma shopping. We got halfway to our destination and my back started aching with fever. We got into the store and I was chilling. I needless to say got the stomach flu. And Noah got something... I'm not sure if he's teething again (he has 6 teeth now), or if its the bug that's floating around. Anyway, today we both are feeling much better.

A most recent development is that my sister-in-law, Tiffany and her hubby Zach have just ventured into the evangelistic field. Its exciting but also sad. Not only is she a sweet sister, she has become a really good friend and I will miss her. Also, Noah just loves all of his Uncle Zach's singing. He loves Uncle Zach and Aunt Tiff. The other night while they were home for a day, our family went to the Pullens' house for a rabbit and pheasant dinner. Let me tell you that it was good. (I never thought I'd be this adventurous... but here we are. lol. I think Zach shot the meat and Sis.Pullen prepared it.) Here are some recent pictures:

Noah and Mimi at No Limits:

No Limits Choir directed by Ben Vandiver:
At the Pullen's beautiful new home:
Here's the little man getting familiar with the altar area:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Powerful Force

For those of you who are faithful readers of Music Eloquence, I apologize for not posting. My blog has been giving me troubles when I try to post. So once again I am attempting to post and hopefully it will go through. My last attempt posted as January 7, 2008. If you'd like to go back and read that post, that is actually my most recent post. ... Or you can hopefully read what's here today. Here it goes:

Music is powerful beyond measure. One puts his/her innermost thoughts and feelings into it to be recognized and publicly acclaimed or criticized. Which painting, poem, sculpture, song and dance do we keep? In music, we keep the one that speaks to us in past experiences retold, in melodies that bring us to a secret place, in rhythms that capture our heartbeat, and dynamics that reflect our passion. What power music has to emotionally transport us to these places. Although this is a sensitive subject I would like to pose a question to all artists. Do we REALLY UNDERSTAND the POWER of music? I don't believe we do. Here's why. (read on)

We come from different backgrounds and circumstances in life, yet we all have a commonality in our experiences of pain, loss, rejection, happiness, contentment, and fulfillment. There is strength when there is commonalities and even greater strength when there is unity or "one mind". I want a singer to sing to me from the life's tapestry we are interwoven into. Please don't cut up the tapestry and ruin the art by demanding rape and incest, perversion, plunder, violence, and such like. This breeds more of the same.

In an interview with famous family comedian, Bill Cosby, he addressed Rap Music. Cosby was made aware of an artist needing a lyrics writer (whom Cosby knew) to write and promote RAPE (you can actually see the Cosby interview on youtube). The writer told the artist he would by no means write lyrics promoting rape. The artist tried to sway him towards his bent. The writer with a low steely voice said, "You're talking about my Mother." Is this where we have come as a free nation in the name of art? Is this what "art" is all about? A venting mechanism by which we can let the whole world know what happened to your mother as a little girl? (Sorry for the bluntness, but this is very real). Although there are sadly untold numbers who have experienced the perversions listed above, it is not healthy at any cost to glorify ABUSE of any kind. This makes me sick to my stomach. People's sorrows and misfortunes are taken advantage of and "glorified" all in the name of art. The really sad part is that more and more people are listening to this message and more and more little girls fall victim to this abuse every day. Music is powerful.

This is when the power music holds on society really disturbs and saddens me. As I stated earlier, music is powerful beyond measure. Music can even trigger medical problems. Just as flashing lights can cause seizures in some, I read last month that certain types of music caused seizures for an individual. Music can also inspire violence. According to a Black Gospel Documentary, during slavery, when the master of the house was away, disgruntled slaves would beat on a drum in a chant like fashion and soon after a master would be killed or a local store would be robbed (I posted on this before). You cannot tell me music is not powerful. Music can be deceptive. I believe Lucifer knew how much power there was in music. It was powerful enough that he took 1/3 of the angels with him. It was powerful enough that he actually believed his own lie, that he could be like God. How wrong he was! However we can use music for good to bring healing and restoration and many other positives. I've even seen people healed during the musical part of our worship service at church. I've also witnessed what appeared to be a cold-hearted soul during the first few songs of worship "melt" under the power of the song penned by Dottie Rambo called "He Looked Beyond My Faults":

Amazing Grace, shall always be my song of praise.

For it was grace that brought me liberty,

I do not know, just why He came to love me so.

He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.

I shall forever lift mine eyes to Calvary,

To view the cross, where Jesus died for me

How marvelous, His grace that caught my falling soul

He Looked beyond my fault and saw my need.

I hope every musician can realize the power and influence they potentially have to effect this world. The devil is not timid about the results his music is producing. How much more powerful should I be, a blood bought, Jesus' name child of God, in the music I produce for His glory? What do you have to say? Do you really understand your power as a singer, pianist, organist, drummer, etc? I don't think we really understand or else our church's would have the best music (well rehearsed and near perfection... not to mention anointed prayer behind it). What an important responsibility we have... we prepare the way for the word. I emphasize that WE HAVE THE POWER to prepare the way for the word and to be used to change a life. Instead of rape and deceit, music can calm a troubled spirit (David used his skillful harp playing to soothe King Saul's troubled spirit) and it can also bring praise to God. Praise confuses the enemy. Do you understand your God given power as a musician?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

No Limits

I apologize for neglecting my blog this past week. Plan on it for one more week. Last week my cousin got married and time spent on the computer was time spent learning two songs on Youtube for her wedding. It was a beautiful wedding. It was also great getting to spend time with out of town relatives that I hardly get to see anymore.

This week, on the other hand, our family will be out of town. We are going to the No Limits Conference in Sacramento, CA. If you are unable to attend the conference but would like to hear the services you can go to where they will be streaming live from the internet. I may check my blog infrequently but please check back next week when things get back to normal.