Learning to Ask: Classical Music, Passion, and the Unknown

My First Love

It’s crazy how whenever I lose sight of my deepest passions, God brings them back to me. I may forget, but He never does. The other night, I was at a church service casually observing the keyboardist up front, when it hit me: I love playing the piano. Not the keyboard, but the piano.

The way a keyboardist strikes the keys is completely different than the way a pianist does. The feel of the instruments are different: the depth of the keys, the speed of the action. Not to mention their sounds are different. The warmth of a piano is impossible to produce on a keyboard. The range of volume and color just isn’t there.

One week ago, God told me, “You are a pianist, so you shouldn’t settle for a keyboard. You should ask for a piano.”

So I did. I asked. (Something that is often challenging for me.)

Only a week later, however, I had forgotten about that conversation, but clearly God hadn’t. This time, God went even deeper.


It has been several months since I’ve touched a really good quality piano. (I practice on uprights of less-than-wonderful quality at my school here in Korea.) When you have to go without something, you learn to cope, so that fact had not bothered me much until this moment when I suddenly wondered if I would ever have the opportunity to play on a grand piano after this next semester at SNU is over.

I had the faith to believe God could provide me access to an upright piano in the future, but not a grand. That would be something extravagant, unnecessary, and impractical.

Somehow the thought that I might never play on a grand piano again seemed unbearable. So I went through a time of surrender. I know God is calling me to stay here in Korea, and if that means not getting to play on any good pianos, I accept that. However, God quickly ushered me from surrender into childlike faith.

A snippet from my senior recital when I got to play on a beautiful grand

God is the one who put these desires in my heart and who keeps reminding me of them, so I should ask God to fulfill them. That was how the thinking went.

Then God took it a step farther. “Classical music is not outdated and irrelevant. It’s not just a private quirk. Stop devaluing this essential part of who you are. This is a unique gift that has unique potential. There is a specific audience that you can reach with your music that no one else can reach.”


Music as a Profession

I got a Master’s degree in Piano Performance, but sometimes I believe this lie that I only did that because it was the path of least resistance. I was good at piano, so it was the easiest way to go. I somehow forget how my deep passion for music was the only thing that got me through college and grad school. I forget how hard I fought––wrestling with myself and my insecurities, persevering through failures and humiliations, pushing through frustrations and physical limitations––to understand music at its deepest level and express my heart in its fullest, barest form.

I never had ambitions of being a performer. I never deluded myself that I could make a living that way. And I liked teaching, so why not just do that?

But just because you can’t make a living doing something, doesn’t mean you should stop doing it. And just because I don’t know all the hows or whens of finding access to a decent piano to practice on, much less venues through which I could perform, doesn’t mean I should let go of this dream.

So instead of squashing my hopes as I have done with so many things in the past, setting my expectations low as a form of self-protection, I lift up every hope and dream to the Lord. I ask, without fear, for the things I truly want, believing God cares, believing they matter, believing it’s okay to be honest and want things that seem too big.

It’s okay to ask. To simply ask without knowing what will come. This, too, is part of the life of faith.



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Elizabeth is a teacher, preacher, musician, and writer. She has a Master's of Divinity and a Master's of Music, which represent her two great loves: Jesus and the arts. A half-Korean, half-white American, she spent seven years in South Korea teaching English. Elizabeth is a perpetual learner, a deep feeler, and a pursuer of beauty and truth.

10 thoughts on “Learning to Ask: Classical Music, Passion, and the Unknown

  1. Good to get an insight into what’s been happening regarding piano. Love the lessons you’re learning, and the dialogue with God. Dream big and let’s watch and see what the Lord does!

  2. Ahhh Elizabeth, I’m so happy for you! You seem to be having such rich, educational experiences that are helping you to grow spiritually, mentally, and musically. That’s really wonderful, and I’m both excited for you and at the same time a little jealous! (lol) I’ve always wanted to go to other countries to learn, explore, and grow, but at the same time the idea of that scares the crap outta me. >.< So it really makes me happy to see you doing all of that and enjoying your time there. You've always been a wonderful person and I still miss you singing 2nd Soprano with me in Chambers!! But I'm glad God has clearly called you into this journey and that you continue to gain so much from it. 🙂 Love and Miss you tons! <3

    1. Thank you so much, Teresa!!! I am having a wonderful time here, but I miss you and singing 2nd Soprano with you so much, too!! I hope everything is going well at UMD, and good luck with whatever is next for you! But really, if opportunities come your way to go abroad or embark on some new adventure, you should take them! Life is short! 🙂
      ♥♥ Much love~

    1. Thank you! I’m actually fairly new to blogging, so I have no idea how I ended up on Yahoo News… Sorry I’m not of more help, but good luck with your blogging!

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