My Purpose

My Purpose

The purpose of this blog is to help people understand that music can be more then just entertainment, and what those things are. I want be able to help people with this blog. I don't know everything about music, I am still studying it, however, I will share what I have found. I hope you will be enlighted and edified by what I have to share. I worry that some people might turn a deaf ear to my blog if they read something on this blog that they don't agree with. I respect your beliefs. I don't agree with everything I read either. But I know you can find something that can help and interest you, if you just keep reading.

"Quotes Worth Mentioning"


When asked where his inspiration came from, Johannes Brahms said, "I immediately feel vibrations that thrills my whole being. These are the Spirit illuminating the soul power within, and in this exalted state, I see clearly what is obscure in my ordinary moods: Then I feel capable of drawing inspiration from above, as Beethoven ... Straighway the ideas flow in upon me, directly from God, and not only do I see distinct themes in my mind's eye but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies, and orchestration. Measure by measure, the finished product is revealed to me when I am in those rare, inspired moods." "The powers from which all truly great composers like Mozart, Schubert, Bach and Beethoven drew their inspiration is the same power that enabled Jesus to work his miracles. It is the same power that created our earth and the whole universe"
("Talks with Great Composers", Arthur M. Abell)

"Give me power over he who shapes the music of a nation, and I care not for who shapes it laws"
Napolian Bonaparte

“Intellectual enlightenment consists of instruction in the arts, numbers, history, speech, and government. Music consummates a man’s life, giving his rituals meaning. Music has a trensforming effect on its listeners, and should be the first principle of government.” -The Teachings of Confucius.

I quote some remarks between,Gene R. Cook, and Mik Jagger made a few years ago:
Cook: "I have the opportunity to be with a lot of young people. Many say your music does not affect them adversely in any way. Others say it effects them in a very bad way. What is your opinion? What is your impact?”
Jagger "Our music is calculated to drive the kids to sex. It's not my fault what they do. It's up to them. I'm just making a lot of money.”
Cook: He was in Mexico making a profane and pornographic music video because the cost is 1/3 there. In addition it is easier to produce such videos there at the moment. He explained that though such videos with explicit sexual behavior is illegal on US national television, it soon will be, and they want to have the videos ready. Now not only audio pornography can be portrayed, but they can view it as well. He was making more money this way."
Jagger:“It doesn't matter what you do in life, there are no rules. There is no god. You can take whatever you want. It doesn't matter."

"To encourage literature and the arts is the duty which every good citizen owns to his country."
George Washington

"Music has the power of producing a certain effect on the moral character of the soul, and if it has the power to do this, it is clear that the young must be directed to music and must be educated in it."

(more qoutes to come)

PLEASE NOTE: It would greatly benefit the reader to follow blog postings from the first post to the most recent. Using the Blog Archive in the left column of the page to jump to the oldest posts. For now I will see if I can find a way to display the posting in chronilogical order, first post to the latest post.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Have you ever heard a speech so well conceived and delivered as to cause you to make irrational commitments to service. Such was a speech I heard some years ago given by Thad Carlson, the CEO of our reigning local telephone service. The speech centered around serving that segment of our populace who is almost completely forgotten - those in our penal institutions. He cited the central Christian ethic of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting those who are in prison. The combination of his eloquent honesty and fervent commitment to this principle, caused me to remark “the next time you go there, let me know.” Little did I know that he would take me up on it. Early the following Christmas morning, I received a cheery and brief call from Mr. Carlson saying, “I’ll see you down there in 30 minutes!” At first I could not cognate his meaning, then my recollection bore out my previous verbal commitment. I didn’t know what to do except to explain to my wife what I was about to do. Having never discussed this matter with her before she was, needless to say, surprised. She reminded of the day it was and asked me to be as brief as possible and sent me off with a plate of sugar cookies made by our children. I am ashamed to admit that I did not know where the county jail was, and had to look up the address in the phone book. I arrived there just as a fluttering of snowflakes cascaded down to the ground creating a skiff of diamonds on the sidewalk from the cold but bright sunlight. I walked up the steps to the jail and tried the door. To my surprise, and relief I found the double glass doors to be soundly locked. As I turned to leave I heard “a voice from on high” from a speaker above the doors asking who I was and what I was doing there. The first question was easy to answer, but I had no real idea what I was doing there. I explained that I had come to join Thad Carlson. That answer struck an understanding chord with the formless voice, who then asked what I had in my hands. I explained that they were cookies made by my children. The voice sharply informed me that I would need to leave them outside to proceed into the jail. I countered that they were harmless and that my children would be disappointed if I were not to carry out the mission they had entrusted to me. The voice relented and told me that when the doors unlocked, to proceed to the next set of locked doors. I did as I was commanded and found myself in the interior of the jail at another set of glass doors, this time with a surveillance camera peering at me. I was again interrogated about my reason for being there, and upon a satisfactory response the doors opened to me. I was instructed to follow the yellow line on the floor to the “vestibule”. I did so. The vestibule was an extravagant name for a very small hallway with room enough for a folding chair on each wall facing each other, leaving sufficient space for a person to pass between the chairs side-ways. At the end of the vestibule was Thad Carlson sporting his characteristic smile and friendly hand shake. He greeted me and said there are 13 inmates here today who were deemed incorrigible and unable to gain leave for the day from the jail. He explained that within a few minutes they would be released to come out of their cells to hear “us” speak. When he used the plural form of the pronoun, I began to become very concerned. I had come to be an observer, NOT a participant. Just as he had explained, we heard the automatic opening of the cell doors and I expected to hear the anxious pattering of 26 feet coming toward us, but I heard nothing. It was completely silent. Frankly, I was relieved and feigned disappointment and thanked him for having me come down as I prepared to leave. Just then, the first in-mate rounded the corned and sauntered towards us. I was astonished by what I saw. Somehow I had expected to see someone like Humphrey Bogart or Edward G. Robinson in one of their grisly prison movies, and instead I saw a handsome young man looking very much like the boy next door approaching us in his bright orange institutional overalls. His gaze was fixed on the floor and he was in no hurry to approach us. When he finally arrived at Thad Carlson’s outstretched hand, which he ignored, he was greeted with a sincere and friendly “Merry Christmas”! That seemed the appropriate salutation for the morning, but it was met with irritation and disrespect. He hurled the phrase back at Thad and asked in a sneering voice, “just what’s so merry about it”? “For one thing”, responded Thad, the weather is beautiful outside”. “That’s great!” said the young man. “You come in here and tell me it’s beautiful outside, when I’m in here! You’ve got a lot of nerve”! Thad Carlson walked nearer to him and put his hand on his shoulder and pointed his towards a slit of a window where he could peer through and see the snowflakes falling like diamonds from the heavens. In doing so his feet came to rest right next to mine and I could see from close proximity the expressions on his face. The first emotion registered on his face was that of longing...longing to be outside. That was followed by irritation, anger and rage. He then started in on a litany of reasons for his being where he was peppered with compound four letter words. It was a laundry list of people whose fault it was for his predicament. It was his stupid lawyer’s fault, the incompetent judge’s fault, his lousy parole officer’s fault, etc., etc., etc.. There was one salient lack in the list and that was the listing of his own name, but at this point I was not going to bring that to his attention. At that moment the second and last inmate rounded the corner to see us, and Thad Carlson led us to the seats and asked us to sit down. In doing so, since I was seated across from the first young man, our knees bumped in an uncomfortable moment. We glanced into each other’s eyes then both looked at the floor. I don’t know which of us was the less comfortable. Thad welcomed them and thanked them for coming to hear us speak. He then said, “and now Michael Ballam would like to say a few words”. I was stunned! This was not part of the plan. I had not come prepared to say anything, and given the tense circumstances I would had to have prepared for many months to say anything worth hearing in these surroundings. I was for one of the few times in my life, totally speechless! NOTHING came to my mind. I raised my gaze from the floor to the eyes of the young man across from me, and in doing so noticed a delicate gold cross hanging on a gold chain from his neck. For some reason I asked “are you Catholic?” He responded with a terse “yes”. I followed that with “I met the Pope once”. He said “THE Pope”. I responded to the affirmative. He asked how, and I explained that I had sung for him once. He asked where and I said at his residence in the Vatican. The young man was interested if not incredulous. He then said “what happened”. The ice was broken or at least slightly chipped and I recounted to him what was for me a very interesting experience. I had gone with a group called “America’s Youth in Concert” to the Vatican for a private audience with Pope Paul ???? prepared to perform Schubert’s immortal Mass in C. We had assumed the Pope would love it, given his association with the text. He greeted is in 8 languages and thanked us for our attendance and asked what we had prepared to sing. When we told him of our choice, he thanked us with supreme grace, but inquired as to the possibility that we might know any “Negro Spirituals” as he put it. We did have some wonderful Spirituals that we had prepared, and the conductor beaconed me to come forward and begin as soloist the words: “Lord, I keep so busy praisin’ my Jesus, ain’t got time to die” Given my proximity to the Pope I could see his response better than others in the audience. He sat back in his regal chair and smiled. But I could see through his smiling countenance tears course down his cheeks as he sat with his eyes closed and his hands clasped in front of him. I did not know at the time that the Pope was battling with cancer, and knew his days of service were numbered. He was living out what the song was depicting, not having time to die in the service of his Lord. I went on to say that the music of the black American in the deep south during the 19th century is filled with profound feeling and spirit. Singing in the cotton fields under the yoke of slavery was one of the few ways in which there noble souls could be released in thought from the tyranny of oppression. Their songs transported them out of their chains to a better place. I then said I would like to conclude with one such song, written for the Christmas season. I began: Sweet Little Jesus Boy, ...... When I finished my cheeks were wet with tears as were those of the young man seated across from me. Through glistening eyes he said, choking back the tears, “I wish I was home...with my kid” I asked where was home. He told me Santa Fe. I remarked about how beautiful and unique that city is. I then asked what he did there. He told me he was a painter there and how inspiring the landscape was for his work. He then went on to say that he wanted to change his life and go back. He committed to us that he would do just that. I inquired after that young man over then next year and was pleased to know that he did just what he had committed to do. I’ve thought many times back upon that moment and what happened there. I could have prepared a speech for months if not years to try to touch the heart of that young man that morning, and I don’t believe anything I could have said with words alone could have taken residence in his heart as did the simple words of that inspired song. Inspiration in music and art comes a variety of shapes and forms, sometimes in the form of magnificent symphonies and cathedrals, and sometimes in simple utterances such as this. If you have not tapped this source of power you need to. Due to my experience in the County Jail, I accepted an invitation to visit on of our state’s federal penitentiary. I had never done so before, and recognized the severity of the experience when I was frisked to enter the facility. I had to remove any metal in the form of rings and tie clips. In fact, my shoes were even held “hostage” as they had wires in the souls. I was unaware of that fact, but the surveillance equipment showed me. I had worked long and hard on an address for the prison inmates. I was very concerned about their accepting my “outsider” view of their condition and believing me when I said that hope springs eternal, that change can be made and lives adjusted to a better. I stood to the pulpit to begin and explained that I am a musician and would feel better if we could start with a song. As I rummaged through my music to sing them a song, someone from the audience called out. We know a song, let us sing it for you. I was astonished by the suggestion and said I would be happy to hear them. They began first as a solo, then as a duet, trio, quartet and finally a mighty chorus to sing. “I am a Child of God.” Within measures the atmosphere in the hall changed and the countenances of the prisoners lightened. Through tears and hope they sang of their innate knowledge that they are loved by a powerful force greater than us all. What more could I say? I struggled for my words, and as I think back, I’m not sure anything I said could have come close to the profound message that came forth from that song. Music has the power to bypass socio-economic barriers, it cuts through the conflict of language and politics and speaks directly to the heart.

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