Being in Tune

velvet ashes discord tuning

My sister recently hired someone to come and tune her piano. She proceeded to inform me she was unable to stay in the same room as the tuner brought the piano, one string after another, painfully into tune.

I played violin for about 10 years. I am embarrassed to even type that, when the truth is, I played but I didn’t practice. There were times that I would sit in orchestra, faking my way along, but I am sure I didn’t fool anyone.

I need to apologize, Mr. Yoder; it really had nothing to do with you, or your ability to conduct an orchestra.

I am struck that the tuning of the piano pained my sister’s ears. I loved hearing the beginning of a piece of music. The head violinist would stand and play “A.”  What followed was a cacophony of instruments melding themselves into one sound. As that sound was reached, it was melodious.

I personally relish this moment. In my mind, the sound is beautiful.

A violin has two places it can be tuned. The regular tuning pegs at the scroll are large and awkward. Sometimes they get stuck. There are times when the string is so off tune, you must use the pegs. Other times there is only a slight variance between in tune and out of tune. The fine tuners, located on the tailpiece, are used to fix the slight differences.

If I am honest, I wept as we crossed the border into our country of service. A fear of the known overwhelmed me. I “knew” what we were in for because we had spent a 10-month internship here. This fear was the place I lived in for the year and a half we spent fundraising and re-discovering our calling. I was certain I knew what was going to happen, how I would feel, and what I was going to lose.

I am ashamed to admit I stayed in that place. I ruminated in my bitterness. It came out at my family, encapsulating me in loneliness. I was not fun to be around.

Like my sister’s piano, I needed some tuning. The fine tuners weren’t good enough. It took months, but I was put in the place of seeing my own sin. Strings were moved. I had to repent. I had to realize that living in fear was creating an unpleasant sound. I lacked trust in the one who created me, and I was attempting to make my own music.

The process of getting into tune is one of learning to adjust. I can remain in discord. People may not want to stay in the room through the journey. It isn’t beautiful, and at times it pains the ears of the listeners. Understandably, people want to watch the concert, with the minor tuning instead of be stuck in a house when the instrument needs a massive tuning overhaul.

By his grace, my music is becoming something that others can listen to. I found that grace, for myself especially. Will I allow The Master himself to use the peg tuners, and fine tuners as needed? I have chosen to say yes. Sometimes that yes is through gritted teeth. The process, though, is oh-so-worth being a part of. It creates a symphony worth listening to.

What has this process of tuning looked like in your life?


Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash


  1. Hannah February 6, 2018

    I love music and I love this analogy. And, ahem, I am moved to action at the thought of the dissonance others have to put up with when I don’t give God access to the fine tuner screws and eventually the pegs if it goes long enough. By His grace Im giving Him the chance to tune me up.

    1. Spring February 8, 2018

      Thank you Hannah for sharing a bit of your journey. I pray the tuning comes gently.

  2. Addie February 6, 2018

    I like this analogy! I’m a violinist-turned-teacher, so I spend quite a bit of time tuning – my instrument, where my fingers go, my students’ instruments (sometimes 40 of them in one go!)

    If I’m honest, right now I feel like I’m the instrument whose bridge has snapped off and all of the strings are just sitting against the wood, unable to make a sound. I know I need repairing, restoring, and some major tuning! And the Lord has revealed that He is working on me right now. Sometimes (okay, quite often), that process hurts. It’s tempting to look around and hear everyone else’s sound – full and warm, or vibrant and singing, and think I’m defected! I just want to make a beautiful sound again, that others may hear and rejoice in my Maker, but I know it is not quite time yet.

    1. Spring February 8, 2018

      I am sorry to you as a teacher Addie for my lack of faithfulness to practice violin. I recently picked it up again and realized how much I miss playing
      May God grant you patience and endurance for the journey ahead of you.

  3. Lori Useche February 11, 2018

    Oh Spring , your violin tuning analogy really got me thinking. My daughter studied violin for many years, starting at the age of 5. I remember when she first started she had no idea if her violin was in tune and someone had to tune it for her. Slowly, she learned to hear when her violin was tuned or not and how to tune it with the keys and fine tuners. But even beyond that, even when the violin is perfectly tuned, it has to be held just right and the finger has to be in just the right spot to find the “middle of the pitch” for each note and that took a lot longer to learn. And throughout the whole process she had to be around others who were in tune and listening to well played music to train her ear to hear the pitches. So as I apply that to my life I think about the journey God has had me on as I learn to hear God and follow his lead. At first, I really needed others to guide me and help my ears get used to the hearing His pitches and I still really need people who are in tune around me so my ears will stayed tuned to His pitch. I also started to think of those in the “orchestra” around me those who play so beautifully and how their perfect pitch helps me find my perfect pitch, like the tuning process at the beginning of a concert. At the same time their are others around me who need me to play in tune so their ears can be trained. We are an orchestra learning to play in harmony.

    1. Spring February 11, 2018

      Wow Lori I love how you took my comparison to an even greater level! I agree with you. It does take others around us to teach us what being in tune sounds like, and we need them to play a piece effectively. There aren’t any solos in this orchestra, at least not many.
      My daughter took viola for a year. Her teacher insisted I’d hear a sound in my ear when the string was off tune. I never did. I guess I just didn’t tune it enough. 🙂

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