Wins & Losses (November 12-18)

Wins

  • We were treated to a wonderful dinner and program on Monday night by our church. Our Deacon’s Banquet was a real treat at the Side Porch Steakhouse. I had never been to this quaint little restaurant, and I was extremely impressed with the food and the service. I got to meet Adam Johnson, a former music pastor at Leawood East. I enjoyed meeting he and his family, and really enjoyed the music he brought to us. And our little Reagan behaved well the entire time!
  • The month of November calls for music pastors and directors getting all the Christmas music together for December. We have been singing Christmas choir anthems on Wednesday nights since about late September and have begun our instrumental rehearsals as well. A lot of great music has been chosen and I’m looking forward to all our Christmas events at church this year. We have a Christmas dinner on December 3rd, an AM service led completely by the music ministry, and two Christmas Eve services (AM and PM). This is going to be one, full holiday season at Leawood East!
  • A basketball game in Horn Lake meant some serious daddy-daughter time for Reagan and me on Thursday night. I picked her up from the babysitter, we had “dinner” together (chili for me and banana-oatmeal-peach baby food and blueberry Puffs for Lil’ Gipper), playtime in the floor for about 45 minutes, and then we watched the CMA Awards that we missed from the week before. We had an awesome time together and it only would’ve been better if her mama had been there too.

Losses

  • Thanksgiving break was obviously on the horizon because stress levels were extremely high for me. Because of that, my fuse has been unusually short with just about everyone and it’s definitely come back to bite me in the butt. I need this break now more than I ever have before, and that is no exaggeration. Christmas vacation will be even sweeter.
  • Every teacher thinks their class is important and every teacher is right. All classes in school have something to offer to the students for their benefit whether they are required to be there or not. But when the students clearly demonstrate that they believe the class is a joke, all bets are off. I absolutely cannot stand it when a student makes light of my class, despite the fact that it is required of them for graduation. When preparation for a project or assignment is lacking non-existent, my patience begins to wear off. When no remorse or care is shown after the grade is received, my patience is out the window. It really is a sad day in our American schools when the apathy level has reached this point.
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Sunday Song 11.19.17

You’d think with a Getty music fanatic like myself, I would have heard this song much sooner than I did. According to the Getty Music website, “Lift High the Name of Jesus” was first placed on album back in 2013 when they did a live recording of a concert at The Gospel Coalition. I didn’t discover the song until I purchased their Facing a Task Unfinished album almost a year ago. But when I did discover it, it immediately shot to the top of my “favorite Getty songs” list. When I considered implementing it into our song rotation at church, I was THRILLED to learn that it had been done there before. It’s one of our favorite songs to do, and I hope you enjoy it today!

Wins & Losses (November 5-11)

  • The Brashers enjoyed a week with no events to attend on any weeknight. Being at home after work with nowhere else to be is always a pleasure. Meals together, playtime with Reagan and the pets, family singing in the music room. We cherish those nights when we get to hang out at the Brash Cave.
  • The youth of LEBC led us in worship last Sunday night. I’ve been looking forward to this for several weeks and I was immensely proud of all of them. We had students leading in musical worship, skits, devotions, and signing. It’s safe to say that we were all blessed by the end of the night, with a little help from the Mexican pile-up meal we had after church honoring the staff. It was a lot of fun, and I’m glad to do life with my church family.
  • Saturday was a long, but rewarding day. We got up early to make the trek from Horn Lake to Pearl, MS for the Riverland Choral Festival. Horn Lake took three choirs (two HS and one MS) and represented DeSoto County very well. The high school ensemble came back with LOTS of hardware, including grand champion in class and overall, and the missus and I enjoyed a nice dinner at Cracker Barrell before the awards ceremony. The only downsides were a speeding ticket after leaving home in the morning and not getting into bed until midnight on Saturday night. Such is life.

Losses

  • Sunday morning (11/5) was a hot mess. By the time Saturday night rolled around, I knew of four musicians and one AV tech who would be out the next day. I woke up in the middle of the night to a text saying another instrumentalist would be out due to some health problems that placed him in the hospital. By about 6:30 (post-time change), I notified the remaining two musicians and told them to take the Sunday off. I had led from the piano before, so I wasn’t too frazzled yet. We took our Sunday morning a little slower than usual, and got to church around 8:20. I went into the sanctuary to practice my offertory music and somehow or another, broke the damper mechanism on our Boston grand piano. I got under the piano as if I were a car mechanic to try and fix it, even contacting my former piano teacher to see if he could tell me what was wrong. I was pretty much lost, so I went and got my old faithful Casio Privia keyboard out of my office (where my child was sleeping), rearranged a few things, and led music from the keyboard that morning. It was definitely awkward, but I survived. And my musicians are NEVER allowed to leave me again. Ever. This is not a joke.
  • If you read my blog on Friday, you know now that I have left the Republican Party. This was a decision that came with a lot of thought and soul-searching. I don’t equate it to a spiritual decision, because it isn’t; it’s a poltical decision. But the Republican Party that I used to love has gone off the deep end, and won’t have my support fully until they come back to the platform adopted by the entire convention.

Sunday Song 11.12.17

“I Need Thee Every Hour” is a hymn written in 1872 by Annie Hawks and Robert Lowry. I have always enjoyed this hymn because of it’s constant reminder in every verse of our absolute reliance upon the Savior. The stanzas speak of our need of the Lord’s tender voice, His nearness, His fulfillment, and His possession of our souls. It has been recorded numerous times and sometimes even paired with new choruses. Be reminded of our constant need for Christ today.

I. Am. Through.

I am leaving the Republican party.

I have had my fill of it for well over a year now. The party that I embraced when I was in high school because of its push for individual responsibility and opportunity for all has become the party of extreme ideology and populous mayhem. After watching Donald Trump and the influence he has had on the Republican Party (particularly evangelical Republicans), I am done with it. To make it even clearer (and because everyone loves lists), let me spell it out for you.

 

  1. Donald Trump

His populous message that has been resounding for a year and a half has finally come to fruition. While he claims the label of a Republican, his stances and ideology reflect that of an alt-right fascist who is hostile to anyone with even a slightly different viewpoint. Because of him, the GOP has become a laughing stock. Ban someone from a country because of their religion? Blame the alt-left for an alt-right demonstration and violence? Encourage your supporters to engage in violence with those who disagree? Consistently call your opponents childish names? Making false accusations and claims on a daily basis. Of 17 candidates in the 2016 GOP primary, this is who we thought should be the leader of the free world. And don’t start with the “he’s surrounding himself with good people” crap, because that’s ludicrous (with a few exceptions like Nikki Haley). He appointed Steve Bannon as an advisor, who is now bound and determined to get mini-Trumps elected all over the place. He appointed Paula White as his chief spiritual advisor (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?). While Mike Pence used to be a stand-up guy, he’s traded his character for that of Donald Trump…which leads me to my next point.

Candidates trying to be like Donald Trump

It’s become quite the norm over the last year for Republican candidates that used to be stand-up citizens to now not only endorse Donald Trump, but figuratively embrace him and his ideology in order to get elected. Candidates like Marsha Blackburn, Ed Gillespie, Jeff Sessions, and Mike Huckabee abandoned what had gotten them elected in prior years for this populist and radical message championed by Donald Trump. It saddens me and it infuriates me all at the same time. I used to be a huge fan and supporter of both Marsha Blackburn and Mike Huckabee. With their new embrace of Donald Trump’s rhetoric and stances, I can no longer support them. The latest example of this kind of ridiculous candor is Alabama U.S. Senate candidate, Roy Moore. Judge Moore has demonstrated a right-wing presence that has only energized President Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters. While some have only shown their support rather than devoted their loyalty (Diane Black, Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott), it’s still enough to make me want to leave the GOP.

3. Evangelicals borderline-worshiping President Trump and equating their GOP  affiliation with their Christianity

This is the one that infuriates me the most. It absolutely flabbergasts me every time I hear or see an evangelical lash out at a politician (or anyone else) who dares disagree with the president. Just last week, I saw a friend expressing their extremely negative opinion about a particular politician who, you guessed it, disagreed with the president. Their defense was that this particular politician didn’t respect the president. How ironic…I wonder how many times that friend called President Obama a Muslim (which he isn’t), wished for President Obama’s assassination (God help us if we ever did that), or called any other officeholder by an unkind name (i.e. Killary). I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been labeled a liberal or the one who would put Hillary Clinton in office simply because I refused to vote for Donald Trump and voted for an independent candidate instead. Once upon a time, evangelicals chastised President Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky and ripped him to pieces. When President Trump brags about affairs and groping women 21 years later, all of a sudden the evangelicals scream, “I forgive him! That was years ago!” What a double-standard we have created.

President Trump has pulled the wool over the eyes of evangelicals to make us believe he will be the one to put mandated prayer back in public schools, bring revival to America, and keep us from ever having to be uncomfortable in the USA. That’s a completely ridiculous thought process and it’s not going to happen. When you let your political affiliation define your Christianity instead of the other way around, that creates a dangerous worldview and one that is NOT consistent with God’s Word. When we cause division with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ because of a blooming election, shame on us. Christ taught us better than that. A candidate who says he/she is “pro-life” does not automatically make them the ideal candidate for evangelicals to vote for.

 

So, with that I say so long to the GOP for a while. I hope I can come back to you eventually when you get your act together and remember the Republican platform that was crafted based on the U.S. Constitution. Until then, you shall know me as Logan Brasher (I-TN).

Wins & Losses (October 29-November 4)

Wins

  • Several weeks of rehearsal and practice culminated in a successful recital for my friend, Nathan Bradberry. It was a blast getting to collaborate with him, and get back into the swing of classical-esque style music again. I say “classical-esque” because the music we were playing was atonal, and not for the faint of heart! I’m looking forward to my next venture, whenever that will be, with a U of M student.
  • Halloween was a lot of fun. While Becca had a concert to attend in Southaven, Reagan and I went over to the Leets’ in Collierville for chili and candy. Reagan “helped” us with the candy before our friends, the Wrights, showed up to trick-or-treat down the Leet street. Reagan had a lot of fun playing with their four kids, including 4-month old Addison. Surprisingly, she didn’t get fussy around her usual bedtime and stayed up til well after 9. We had a wonderful time and Reagan was ADORABLE.

  • An unexpected visit from Dad and Natalie found us on Friday night. Dad was driving the A-ville football bus to a playoff game in the area, and they spent most of the time playing with Reagan. She had a good time with them, as did I (Becca unfortunately couldn’t be with us due to a concert in Horn Lake). We enjoyed a meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Las Delicias, then spent a couple of hours at the house. It’ll be nice to spend a few days with them around Thanksgiving.
  • We are always looking for a reason to get all gussied up. Saturday night was the second year we attended the Sewing Into Dreams Fashion Gala. It’s an annual event highlighting the fashion designs of young girls around the area while also raising funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I was asked to give the invocation this year, and we had a swell time. Reagan got to be with us this year outside the womb and she was a champ the whole time. Although, she was much more interested in the faux silk tablecloth than she was anything else.

Losses

  • Just as I was starting to get into the routine of cooler, fall temperatures…Tennessee weather. The rain and muggy temperatures last week were no fun, and I’ll certainly be glad when our daily highs don’t get above 58 degrees.
  • Every teacher has “those days.” It may be because of one student, a co-worker, or something else totally unrelated. In my case, it was an entire class. Nothing went right in that hour and a half, and I was ready to pull my hair out by the end of it. If you were to ask my to describe the whole scenario in one word, the term “mediocrity” comes to mind. Thankfully, there’s always tomorrow.

Grace and Mercy Abound

It was already 7:00. We needed to leave in 15 minutes. The pets had been let out that morning and fed. I was dressed and had my church bag packed with my Bible, iPad, choir folder, and checkbook. The baby’s bag was packed with plenty of diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, and prepared bottles. The car was cranked with the heat on high. I had made an intentional effort that morning to get everything ready as quickly as possible so we could leave on time.

But Becca wasn’t ready yet. Reagan hadn’t even woken up, and her church clothes had yet to be picked out. I make toast for Becca and bring it upstairs for her to nibble on while she finishes getting ready. Then I dropped a 2-ounce jar of baby food on the floor, breaking the container and splattering sweet potato puree everywhere. I quickly began to pick up the glass pieces and left the food for the pets. I didn’t even notice the splatter of baby food on my suit and shoes. Then I forgot I hadn’t made my coffee (we normally hit up Starbucks on Sunday mornings). I get that going and go upstairs to give some help to Becca when I see that the two pieces of toast I had made earlier have fallen to the floor, and the cat is now nibbling on it. I break the news to Becca and go downstairs to make her one more piece.

7:20

Reagan still wasn’t completely dressed yet. I was starting to become very irritable. We finally get out the door around 7:30, and realize we forgot the meat we were to bring to our small group later on (we weren’t coming home before small group that afternoon). So once they were in the car, I raced back inside to grab the meat, and headed back to the car. We finally left.

7:35

Rehearsal with my musicians begins at 8:00, so I need to be there by 7:45 to unlock the doors, turn on the lights and sound system, print set lists, and make sure everything is set to go. That obviously wasn’t going to happen since we had at least a 20 minute drive. And since I was so frustrated already, I was not kind to my wife on the way to church. I said some things that I shouldn’t have in a tone that she didn’t deserve at all.

We got to church just before 8 and two of my instrumentalists were standing outside the church doors (mind you, it was 38 degrees out). If I didn’t feel awful already, I sure did then. I should have been there 10-15 minutes earlier than that so no one had to stand in the cold. I parked in the drive-up, got Reagan out of her carseat and into the church building, hopped back in the car to go park it. I gathered up my things from the car and went back inside. Unlocked the sound room, unlocked my office, turned on all the lights, raised up the stage curtain, and thought I was on the mend. Then I looked at my watch and saw that it was 8:10…and I still had not printed off set lists for everyone yet. So I ran to my office to do that. Apparently, I was not hiding this well because the first thing my pianist said to me when she got there was, “Are you alright?” I brushed it off and kept moving.

We began rehearsing. The first two songs went on without a hitch and then we got to one particular song that we hadn’t done since July…and it showed. Nothing was coming together. I couldn’t remember the melody in one particular section, harmonies were not tight, and chords were not consistent. After singing it through, I called an audible and changed the song to something that we were more familiar with. I absolutely HATE doing that; because I spent time planning something down to the tiniest details, I want to keep it that way. But it later proved to be a good decision.

Finally, I looked at all my musicians and apologized for my state of mind that morning. I confessed to them that I was not in any state to lead people in true worship. I said that I was getting there, but I certainly wasn’t there yet. With all that had gone on that morning, I was angry, sad, disappointed, frustrated, and overwhelmed all at the same time. And somehow, God still expected me to lead a group of musicians AND an entire congregation in worship. As I was confessing all of this and doing my best to be transparent with them, my drummer interrupted me and asked if we could pray at that moment. He prayed not only for my state of mind, but for the others on that team who may be trying to lead in worship when their mind and heart is nowhere near where it needs to be. And suddenly, everything changed. Our rehearsal finished on a high note (no pun intended), my nerves, heart and mind calmed, the service was Christ-centered with minimal distractions, and our music was spot on.

I recounted that big ole long story to make one point.

I realized the benefit of not holding back. So often, the ministry life seems like peaches and cream when, in all actuality, the minister and his family are aching and perhaps, breaking. This is why it is so important for us to be transparent with the people in our lives that we can count on to encourage us and pray for us. I later was told that one of my musicians learned a lot because I was transparent. She learned that it’s okay to not have it all together and to let people know it. When people know you don’t have it all together, grace and mercy abound. The more we actually live our lives together, the closer together we will grow.

Just another example of living a life out of tune.

Wins & Losses (October 22-28)

Wins

  • I was delighted to see last Sunday afternoon that former Congressman Stephen Fincher is going to seek the GOP nomination for the Senate race in Tennessee. This sets up a legitimately contested race in our state, and I will enjoy seeing it play out. Of the declared Republican candidates, I would be comfortable voting for 2 out of the 3 running, but I plan to vote for Stephen in the primary. Look him up. Good guy.
  • Due to various events last week, I got to wear jeans to work twice and wear my pajamas to work on Friday. I’ve never felt so comfy at work, and I was thrilled that it happened. This week is back in slacks and dress shirts. But too much of a good thing is bad, right?
  • Trunk or Treat at church on Wednesday night was a lot of fun (as much as you can have with an infant, anyway). Reagan looked absolutely adorable in her costume, and it was fun getting to interact with some of the LEBC Kids that we don’t see all that often. Someone even came dressed up as a T-rex…yes, the inflatable costume. We followed it up with an abbreviated choir rehearsal, and it turned out to be a halfway decent night.

  • Our season tickets to the Orpheum found us in Paris (aka Memphis) this weekend with a lovely performance of An American in Paris. This new musical features music of the Gershwin brothers and we absolutely loved it. Lots of ballet and a wonderful twisted love story made for a great afternoon of live theatre.
  • I am thrilled, THRILLED I tell you that the cooler/colder weather seems to be here to stay. We may creep up into the mid-sixties around 2:00 each day, but by the time I leave work, it’s cool again. And I love it. Can I bring my Christmas tree down from the attic now?

Losses

  • Tennessee football.
  • Getting lost is never fun. It’s ultra-never fun getting lost in Memphis. I was having to go to a specific Walmart to pick an item we had ordered online, and this Walmart was no less than 40 minutes from work. Due to the rain that had poured that day, and Memphians’ innate ability to lose all sense of road rules when anything falls from the sky, I decided to avoid the interstate and take a few well-known backroads instead. One missed exit turned into another wrong turn leading me to some of those well-known backroads. In Memphis, “well-known backroads” translates to: STAY AWAY AT ALL COSTS. I have no idea how I eventually ended up at the Walmart, but I did and it only took me an hour and a half. I battled the rain and cold (in my pajamas, no less), and got the items I needed, and finally made it home. At any rate, I was probably the best-looking person in that Walmart with my sleep pants, old t-shirt, and houseshoes.

Reformation Sunday Song 10.29.17

It is no secret that there was one hymn that was sung more than any other yesterday. “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” is not only my favorite hymn of all time, but Martin Luther’s best-known hymn. With Reformation Sunday yesterday and this particular Reformation Sunday marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, it was more than fitting to sing “Ein Feste Burg”  yesterday. I loved seeing all my pastor and music pastor friends showing us that song in yesterday’s order of service. I never, EVER get tired of singing it, hearing it, reading it, or simply speaking it. Reformation Sunday was a good one, indeed.

 

Practice…..How?

This hits home for me. I took piano lessons for 15 years straight. When I stopped taking lessons, I realized that it was now absolutely and completely up to me to keep my skills sharpened. Because I realized that early and kept playing on a daily basis, new musical opportunities have come my way. Don’t stop practicing even after you leave college. You’ll regret it if you do.

Collaborations

Day after day in music buildings around the country, students are instructed to head to the practice rooms and learn their music. Professors guilt them into activity with such phases as “I can’t do it for you” or “You just have to invest enough time in personal practice to master the passage.” While both statements are true, I have found myself asking another question recently? Do students truly know HOW to practice? We tell them to go to the practice rooms, but have we guided them in what actually needs to happen once they are there? Here are a few thoughts and tips to help the music student find success in the practice room.

  • There are no shortcuts.First, you must realize that learning a piece of music takes time. Learning the notes and rhythms on the page does not mean that you “know” the piece. Practicing is a process….and…

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