My Ears Don’t Work That Way!

My mother was an amazing musician, one of those specially gifted humans who could hear three measures of a new song, sit down at a piano, and play the whole song without ever looking at a piece of sheet music.  Have you ever known anyone who could do that?

As a child I was mesmerized as our family gathered in the living room to sing hymns or Christmas carols with mother accompanying us at the piano.  Someone would ask to sing a song, mother would say “sing me a few bars,” and then she would play the whole thing.  I never understood how she could do that; to me it felt like a miracle, and I viewed mother as a having a unique talent.

And then memories of my mother came flooding back to me as I watched my two youngest children in their cello lessons which they began at age 5. They both had the same teacher and one of her techniques was called “ear training.”  She would take the child’s cello out of their hands, turn it so that they could not see which string she was plucking, she would play a note, and they were expected to say what that note was.  My son Jonathan was incredibly blessed with “perfect pitch” and as a six-year-old he would always get the ear training notes correctly identified. 

One Saturday morning, as Jon identified note after note his three-year-old sister Elena sat on the floor in the corner of the lesson room playing with blocks.  Jon took a few seconds to answer one of the notes and from the corner of the room his sister blurted out “C sharp.”  The teacher and I both turned and looked at the little sister who just kept playing with her blocks, and the teacher said, “Oh my, we just might be needing to start Elena in cello lessons very soon!”

To which I heard myself say, “They have clearly inherited the musical genius of their grandmother!”  Those perfect pitch musical genes totally bypassed my DNA makeup – my ears don’t work that way!  Is it too anthropomorphic to suggest that “God has perfect pitch?”  God hears every note produced by our hearts, the sour ones, the off-pitch ones, the pure ones, and the beautiful ones. 

Every time I pray the words – “nor do I really know myself” – I am comforted instantly by the FACT that God totally knows me, and He never misidentifies any notes from my heart.  Also, every time I pray the phrase “but I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You” I am so warmed, encouraged, and comforted by this claim that my “desires” are “in fact” pleasing to God. 

May we enjoy a wide variety of musical joys:   chirping of birds, the howling wind, Mozart symphonies, cats meowing, a babbling brook, booms of a thunderstorm, pounding rain on a tin roof, to the believer all evidences that God is near.  And thank you Lord, that none of these require that we have perfect pitch!

Leave a comment, if you wish, regarding this post or how you found The Merton Prayer and why it is important to you.  Thanks for visiting!

4 thoughts on “My Ears Don’t Work That Way!

  1. How true about our mother’s piano ability to play by ear. How true about our God’s ability to know everything about us. How blessed we are to be constant recipients of His unconditional love. – Gerald Denny


  2. This part of the Merton prayer reminds me of Paul’s prayer on Colossians 1:10 – Colossians 1:10, NIV: so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, I always took from this that “in seeking to please God, He is not only pleased but blesses this desire. I don’t know how perfect pitch works but it does. I don’t always understand how God takes my feeble desire to serve and please Him and brings much from that desire but He does.


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