Dave Ragland




Music




​​​​​​​Words from Here:

ONE: SHIFT, PLEASE

There is something paramount that I’ve come to understand in my artistic journey:

Promotion comes from God.

Going through academia and the “young artist” circuit, it is very easy to put ourselves in a place of recoupment. “I HAVE to sound good to justify myself.”  “I have to prove this to this person.” “I HAVE to win this award, THIS competition, sing on THIS stage in order for people to think that I’m worthy.” “(Fill in the blank judge, adjudicator, donor, teacher) said I sound like this, so maybe I should aim for this and not that.” With this thinking, music becomes a self-inflicted weapon, rather than the channel God intended for it to be. Hence with this thinking, I’ve realized that I have withheld myself from the good that God has in store for me.


So I decided to shift!

I’ve decided to change my thinking. Whether I am ranked first place or last in the judging, or if I’m offered a gig or not, I’m living in accord and balance. I can call it my relationship with God, a bond, my agreement, my connection.

It is this:  God loves me. God cares for me. God supplies for me. God prepares the way for me. And all of THIS is first. This is priority and supreme for me. I’m seeking this first.

So then, my dialogue becomes “Man, I can’t wait to share God’s love today!” “Man, I can’t wait to share God’s love through X talent.” “I can’t wait to ignite a light in someone else through X skill or craft!” “I can’t wait to hone my skills and learn so that I may more easily be a vessel for God through X gift or skill!”

Thus, it becomes important to do work and study as if it is for God. I believe that this is what is required in our path to artistry. There is what I call the God quotient – the God that is in all of us. From the youngest of us to the eldest of us. From the richest of us to the poorest of us. So if we are committing our work to God, God can work through His people. 

Therefore:

1) We must commit our work. We can pray before a performance, but what about our practice? Or our score study? Or translation?


2) Honor His people. The lost sheep is just as important at the found one.

When this happens, you open yourself up to the Way of God, the path of God. It’s the same God who promotes, the same God who provides, the same God who can open that door.

When this happens, people will literally pay you to be you. You and I don’t have to be jealous of anything anybody has. We don’t have to cut anybody for a gig. We don’t have to put somebody down to make ourselves feel better.

Artistry is a means, not an end. It is a channel, but it is not life. God wants us complete - first.