Sunday, July 10, 2005

My Yoke is Easy

My friend and I went to the Salt Lake City Jazz Festival tonight. What a fun time. It’s interesting for me, a rocker, to see what real musicians are like!

And while everyone that was on the stage just completely blew me away, there were two performers that had a particular impact on me. They were the singers. One was this older lady named Barbara (though she said she went by the name “Queen”), and the other was this big guy named Kevin Mahogany… Or something like that...

They sang incredibly well. Kevin could scat like noone I’ve ever heard before, and he would gesture while he was shoo-be-dah-be-dabbing along like he was playing his voice with his hands. It was soooo cool to watch and even cooler to hear.

The point was that they made it look so effortless.

For a long time, I was taking voice lessons, from this incredible teacher here in West Jordan named Linda. She teaches a program called Speech-Level Singing, developed by Seth Riggs. Great program, and she’s an incredible teacher.

Even though I’m not the greatest singer in the world, probably not even the best singer in my neighborhood, I have learned a lot of things. One of them is that singing is 10% physical (breathing, technique, etc…), and 90% psychological. You have to learn that inside of you is a pure, clear voice, and you have to shake away all the fear, misconceptions, insecurities, expectations, and false programming that you’ve put on yourself over the years. Great singing, then, is the absence of bad singing. And bad singing comes from baggage.

So, when singing looks and sounds difficult, it’s because it is. When singing looks and sounds easy, it’s because it is.

What’s funny is to understand how much work and practice and patience and diligence goes into making singing effortless. And it’s further amazing to me (and humbling) to see these incredibly effortless singers and to know how far I have to go to get to that point. I need to step out of my way and let the pure voice come out.

OK, now there’s a point to all this, and I’m getting there.

The same thing is true of the Gospel.

Of all the bits of Mormon kitch that bugs me most is a plaque that I see a lot. It has a picture of Jesus, usually in his “coming out of the clouds” rendering (and I actually like that picture a lot), and next to it are placed the words, “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.”

And the problem is that not only did He never say those words, He actually said the opposite. His exact words were: “…For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11: 30)

And I believe Him. I think that living the Gospel SHOULD be easy. I think that if we were to just get out of our own way and let ourselves live the Gospel, without doubts, fears, insecurities, or hesitation… without baggage… we would find the ease and simplicity of the Lord’s Plan. HIS burden is light. OURS is heavy. When we stop fighting ourselves, we will soar.

Just like singing.

Mark Hansen

PS, I just put another song up on my site. It's a driving 80's rocker called "Turn it Up!" Check it out, it's got a surprising message...


  1. I love your comparison. Something I needed to read and hear from someone else right now. Thanks so much!

  2. That was an awesome entry!

    I am studying Speech-Level from Badiene Magaziner in Manhattan. I love your comparison with the gospel. If it's okay with you, I'd like to quote you on my blog.

    Thanks for that!

  3. You've given me something good to think about as I head into my Friday.

    We are our own worst enemy and stand in our own way. Why we would rather carry the burden, I don't know. We all do it; some more often than others.

  4. Well, it's different for each person, but I know that sometimes for me it comes down to fear. As much as I don't like the way I hold myself back, it's comfortable. And I don't know what life is like without that baggage, so it's kinda scary...


    And Dav, thanks for quoting me and commenting. I've added you to my blogroll...

  5. I play cello and I am always finding that the discoveries I make in my music studies correspond directly with the Gospel. My cello professor often says it is the music that beckons one’s technique. Don’t worry so much about the notes, think about what you want to say with them. Translation for daily living: it is living by the spirit that is going to get us where we want to be. For example we may read the scriptures every day, but it isn’t going to do anything for us unless we apply what we learn through the spirit.
    I really liked your explanation of "my yoke is easy."

  6. Thank you Mark.

    As always, I am amazed with your testimony and delighted with your spirit.



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