Mormons, Music, and “Callings”

Photo by Flickr user woodleywonderworks

I think that there are more Mormons that play piano or are musically trained than the general population. I can’t prove it, but I have a hunch that it’s true. Why would I think that? It might be that I just grew up in a neighborhood where people could afford pianos and lessons and most of these people happened to be Mormon (I did grow up in Utah after all). Maybe the piano thing was just a function of the economic demographics and has nothing at all to do with religion.

I’m using piano here as just one example of the many skills and talents that we develop through being members of the LDS Church. There are a whole host of others which include leadership skills, language capabilities, public speaking, and so forth. I may hit on those a little later.

But take my story as an example. My mom always wished she had learned piano and it was her dream to be able to accompany the church hymns someday. In our church, singing hymns is a big deal. On average, we sing at least four times in our main church meeting, and probably at least 6-10 times throughout each service. Juliana talked about our hymns earlier on this very blog. Not only that, but most congregations have amateur choirs (with matching amateur accompanists). Well, all of this singing had a big impact on my mom, so she made sure I had the chance to learn to play piano, even when it meant a significant amount of financial sacrifice (and a fair bit of motherly nagging) to allow me the opportunity.

But the story doesn’t end there. By the time I was twelve, I got an assignment. My job was to rotate between conducting the hymn and playing the piano for the last meeting of church. These types of assignments (known as “callings”) are how our church operates on a daily basis. We don’t have a paid ministry, so each member is asked to help out in a variety of different ways. As a twelve year old, playing the piano in front of a large group was pretty intimidating, but I did it and I got better. A lot of kids get chances like this. Churches all over the world are stocked with pianos and keyboards and a lot of the times the youth are encouraged to learn how to play them. They’re also asked to lead meetings, give talks (sermons), teach lessons, organize service projects, and a whole lot of other things.

There is also some support in our doctrine for all of this. We are encouraged to develop our talents. For me, developing my musical ability has really brought me closer to my Savior. I know that some of my most powerful spiritual experiences have come through hearing, singing, or playing music dedicated to God.

So what do you think? Are Mormons more musical than others or am I way off here? What other useful talents do you think the Mormons develop? What’s your opinion on the pros/cons of having the local members volunteer for all of the church positions?

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