Now, a keen sense of hearing would seem essential for a musician at this level. Tuning and intonation depend on good hearing. So does tempo and rhythm, dynamics and an awareness of the nuanced interplay with other musicians.
But Berg sees the earplugs as essential, and insists that that he can no longer perform without them. So, why does a passionate musician purposely inhibit his hearing? He recently described three reasons:
+ “it’s easier to focus because I shut out everything else.”
+ “When everything else is blocked out, I don’t get as overwhelmed by the sound of the orchestra.”
+ “the sound I hear is so unfulfilling, it’s more challenging to do something musically.”
One commenter observed that it was a fascinating concept: to force yourself to limit what you hear, so you dig deeper to express what you are feeling.
We live in a phenomenally noisy world. There’s television (turned on an average of 7 hours per day in most homes), radio (in the car), I-Pods and background music in the stores, not to mention everyday noises like sirens, machinery, the back-up alarm of a dump truck, the dull roar of the factory or another workplace or the Wal-Mart rumble.
How can you hear yourself think in the middle of all that noise? Even more important, how can you hear God speak in the middle of all that noise? Jesus made it clear that a primary key to enjoying his abundant life is to listen and hear his voice. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27) He consistently urges his disciples to “consider carefully how you listen” (Luke 8:18)
In other words, the only way we can make the music Jesus composed for us before we took one breath and dance the life that Jesus intends is by listening to hear Him. But in such a noisy world…how?
Alban Gerhardt has the key: it’s in the earplugs. Not the little tablets that you place in your ear canal, but the intentional choice to insert earplugs that limit the amount of noise that envelopes your life and your soul.
For centuries, Christians have embraced the spiritual discipline or habit of silence. To limit the amount of aural input from the outside world for the express purpose of clearing space in the soul to more clearly hear our Savior’s voice.
It will mean less television—most of which has trivial, white-bread, nutritionally-deficient content. It will mean turning off the I-Pod and the radio: Beyonce or Chris Tomlin can wait. It will mean agreeing that so much that the world screams is astonishingly empty and soul-unfulfilling. It will mean becoming so unsatisfied with that, and enamored with the life-giving wonder of what God says through His living, written word (Heb.4:12), by the prompting of His Spirit and through Jesus, the Word made flesh, who has the words of eternal life.”(Jn.6:68). And it will mean time—time reallocated and time captured to listen to the Savior.
It means making your world more quiet so His voice—even the slightest whisper, “still, small voice”, or “thin silence” (1 Kings 19:12) – will roar.
And here’s the paradox: as the world gets quieter and His voice gets louder, we will also sense the rhythm of His heartbeat that presses us deeper into the brokenness, pain and mess of that same world.
Hearing His voice is the only way to live a life that changes the world.
If we want to live, we have to listen.
If we want to listen, we have to get quiet.