Music That Moves

By David A. Edwards

Church Magazines

Listen Download Print Share

When it comes to developing his talents and serving others, this young man from Texas, USA, knows the score.

Young man at a computer

Chance A. of Texas, USA, composes music in his studio/hallway closet.

Photographs by Carrie Ryan

Ever since he was little, Chance A. has always loved movies. And growing up in a musical family, he’s always loved music too. Now, at age 17, he’s working—and already finding success—where movies and music come together.

A Search for Experience

“A lot of my favorite composers are film composers,” says Chance, who lives in Texas, USA. “I get so inspired by their music. I’m able to connect on an emotional level with the video and the music that attaches to it.”

He loves movie music so much that he wanted to give film scoring a try. So, of course, he searched “film-scoring contest” on the internet. In order to gain experience, he had entered a couple of small music-composition contests before, without any success. But then he saw the top hit on his web search: the fifth annual Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Contest. This international competition, named for a famous film composer, includes a youth category. It’s a pretty big deal. Chance decided to enter it. It would be good experience, he thought.

He was sent a four-minute animated film to score. He was excited. He was ready. He had time—the submission deadline was three months away. The music that had been bottled up inside him could now come pouring out.

But then weeks went by. He watched the video over and over, he thought, he prayed—and no inspiration came. Feeling completely blocked, he shared his frustration with his mom (who, incidentally, is a vocal performer and majored in music). It was a good move.

“There’s a pivotal point in the film,” says Chance, “a climax in the story that the music should lead up to. My mom had the brilliant idea to just start there. So I got that section written out and scored and then worked my way backward to the beginning and then on to the end.” He felt the inspiration flowing.

The rest, as they say, is history.

He submitted his entry. A while later he learned he had made the top 10. He was overjoyed. Then, a couple of months after that, he received an email thanking everyone for entering. The next line said he was the winner. “When I read that, I jumped up. I was amazed!” he says.

He and his mom got to go to New York City to accept the award. While he was there, he met other composers as well as people involved in other aspects of film and animation.

Young man with mother

Chance traveled to New York City with his mother to receive the first-place award in the youth category of the Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Contest.

Photograph by Laurel Moran

Young man with award

Chance with his film scoring award.

For Good

Chance plans to study film composing in college and eventually make a career of it. Because he knows the powerful influence music can have on people—for either good or bad—he wants to create music that moves people and connects them with something higher, better, and more positive.

“Music can have a lot of influence upon our spirits and the way we feel about our Heavenly Father,” he says. “There are moments where I feel more spiritually connected to my Heavenly Father because of music.

“For me personally, I have an emotion with music that really gets me through my trials. I would love more than anything to share that same help and spirit and emotion with as many people as I can.

“I’ve really gained a testimony of how music can shape our lives. With this career path I’ve chosen and the talent God has given me, it’s really helped me to understand that music is a very vital, important part of our lives. We must use it to the fullest good.”

A Part to Play

This drive to influence others’ lives for good is also reflected in Chance’s Church service. As the first assistant in his ward’s priests quorum, he helps the bishop meet the needs of ward members. His quorum and the other Aaronic Priesthood holders have many opportunities to serve, and they’re glad to do it.

“A lot of times in our meetings with the bishop they’ll discuss someone in need—living in a poorer area or even something as simple as needing to fix a fence,” he says. “We’ll do whatever we can to help those around us.”

Young man fixing fence

Chance and the other young men in his ward are always ready to help.

Ministering to the needs of others has helped him see the strength that comes from the united efforts of Church members. “It just amazes me how we all come together as a ward and help each other out,” he says. “We’re all able to join together and care about each other.”

In addition, Chance is preparing to serve others as a full-time missionary. “I’m being the best example I can be, and I’m learning as much as I can,” he says. “I’ve been really searching in-depth how I can gain that personal revelation of why missions are important so that I can have enough spiritual foundation to teach others in the field.”

Young man studying scriptures

“Music can have a lot of influence upon our spirits and the way we feel about our Heavenly Father,” says Chance. In preparing for a mission, he says, “I’ve been really searching in-depth … so that I can have enough spiritual foundation to teach others in the field.”

For Love

Whether it’s bringing the joy of music to the world, fixing a neighbor’s fence, or teaching the gospel, Chance has discovered the strongest and purest motivation behind it all.

“One of the most important things I’ve learned is the love God has for us,” he says. “I was going through a really tough time, and I was filled with this hatred and was blaming God for my issues. I was saying, ‘Why did you allow this to happen? Am I not worth it?’ And through this experience, I had a great moment at Especially for Youth. I learned that the number-one important thing about this gospel is that God always loves us. No matter how far gone we are, He always, always loves us and wants us to be happy and will do everything He can for us to be happy.”

Knowing God’s love makes Chance want to spread it around. And he’ll be happy if he can add some joyful tones to the soundtrack of life.

Young man and brother

Playing percussion with his brother Brendon.

Young man playing ukulele

In addition to drums, Chance likes to play ukulele …

Young man playing keyboard

… and keyboards.

Young man at keyboard with mother

His mother, a vocal performer with a degree in music, sometimes gives Chance feedback and advice.

Young man praying

“One of the most important things I’ve learned is the love God has for us,” says Chance.

Young man playing drums

Chance played quads in his high school drumline.

Photograph by Torrey Anderson

Young man at baseball stadium

He’s been a lifelong fan of Texas Rangers baseball.

Photograph by Spencer Brandon