Skip to main content

Blogging Buffet: P is for Piano

The theme of my A to Z Challenge posts this year is "Blogging Buffet." In celebration of recently posting my 1000th blog post, I am revisiting posts from the past.  This post originally published on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.

Lessons Learned from the Piano

Photo:  An old upright piano

Confession:  I was not a very good piano student.  I started lessons when I was 5 or 6, and quit for the first time after about a year. I repeated that start-and-stop approach once or twice, and that was the extent of my formal piano training.  It must have been frustrating for my parents and teachers. However, my parents supported me in my decisions and my teachers gave me a good foundation. 

Despite my lack of technical musical knowledge, I really enjoy playing the piano.  There is just something very "homey" about having a piano taking up a huge spot of floor space, and of being able to gather 'round the piano and sing together (which we do weekly during our Family Home Evening.).

When I was in junior high, I was asked to accompany the children's organization (Primary) at church .  That was when I really learned to play the piano.  Do you remember junior high?  That time in your life when all of your faults and mistakes were broadcast in neon lights to the rest of the world?  That's the perfect time to ask someone to play the piano weekly in a public setting, because it spurs one to practice!  I died of embarrassment on multiple occasions.  Some of the children were better piano players than I was!  The chorister was patient and kind, and I gradually gained confidence. 

I no longer accompany for Primary, but I still find myself facing opportunities to learn humility.

Because the organ and the piano both have keys (but believe me, they are very different instruments!), often pianists are asked to play the organ at church.  Having absolutely no formal training in playing the organ has led to some colossal mistakes on my part.  Two in particular stand out in my mind:

1. The time I didn't realize that all of the stops were on.  The music sounded very "full" that day, but it wasn't until the sacrament hymn that I realized I was hearing trumpets!  Not the usual sound for quiet, sacred hymns.  I got a good ribbing from my friends that day. 

2. The time not too long ago that I realized that the organ has a knob to the side of the keys that can be turned to transpose up or down.  I could hear that the sopranos were very quiet, but it wasn't until someone pointed out the knob to me that I realized that I was playing the songs transposed down quite a few steps.  The altos thanked me that day for allowing them a chance to sing the melody.  I'm not sure what the poor basses thought.

Learning humility isn't just a function of playing the organ, though.  My latest responsibility at church is playing the piano for two choirs.  I haven't made it through a rehearsal yet without an obvious-to-everyone mistake.  (While absolute perfection would be nice, I'm realistic enough to settle for making mistakes that the congregation won't hear and that don't throw off the choir.)  I think my biggest challenges, besides just playing the right notes, will be learning to turn pages during performances, and getting my fingers to play the sixteenth note runs at the correct speed. 

Here are a few things I've learned from making musical mistakes:
1.  Most people don't even hear the mistakes.
2.  Most people who do hear the mistakes have been in my position before, and understand.
3.  The few who don't fit in either of the first two categories probably aren't judgmental anyway.

In other words, I just need to practice, give it my best shot, and don't worry about me. I have been asked to play, and when I can focus outward on helping the choir present their message, and on helping the congregation feel the spirit of the music, I don't have time to worry about me.  Playing the piano is fun, and perfection isn't required to make it enjoyable for either the player or the listener.

 photo visiting2_zps6d4521f3.jpg

 photo ThankfulThought4_zps7d9599c2.jpg
Thanks for pianos.

 photo signature3_zps16be6bca.jpg


Pin It

Comments

  1. Wow....funny i recall you saying you played at church i just figured you were at lessons for years and took to it like some sort of savant!!! Haaa.....ridiculous really what i can assume! Pretty much that anyone that can play piano is a savant cuz i cant do it! Lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not an organist, I just play one at church. :-)

      Delete
  2. An organ can sure be intimidating! I "kind of" play the piano and I sang in choir as a little girl. I used to look at that huge organ and just be in awe! Would have loved hearing you play!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like you are as qualified as I am! :-)

      Delete

Post a Comment

Conversations are so much nicer when more than one person does the talking. :-) Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts; I'd love to hear from you!

Popular posts from this blog

Never Give Up Hope

Twenty-three years ago, a beautiful little girl was born. From the get-go, she was sweet, sensitive, and rather shy. She has grown into a young woman of whom I am so proud. She has worked hard to overcome challenges, and recently told me she is trying to face her fears, and asked me if I would write her story and share it here on the blog, in hopes she can inspire others through their own struggles. Although I offered to publish an auto-biographical piece for her, she wanted me to write her story from my perspective. At her request, and with her approval of this post, I share the following:
The phone rang, and the social worker on the other end informed me that a baby girl had been born 10 weeks early and drug-exposed. She wasn't ready to be released from the medical facility where she was currently staying, but would we be interested in being her foster-to-adopt parents? Of course! When John and I filled out our paperwork, we indicated that we were comfortable with a premature bab…

Six Sentence Story: Burst

The moment the church organist started playing the introduction to the hymn, the precocious toddler girl stood up on the pew. Music just moved her, and she was doubly excited when she realized she recognized the tune. Though everyone around her was opening a hymnal and finding the right page, that was unnecessary for her. 
First of all, she couldn't read, but second, even if she could read, she didn't need the words; they were etched into her memory. Finally, the organist finished the introduction and the chorister signaled the congregation to begin, but while the rest of the church-goers sang, "Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing," the sweet little girl belted out, "Go tell Aunt Rhody." By the time she got to the line about the old grey goose being dead, all decorum was lost as those around her burst out laughing. 




This has been another Six Sentence Story. The blog hop is hosted by Denise of Girlie on the Edge each week. The rules are simple: write a six sent…

Six Sentence Story: Release

Her small brow furrowed in concentration as she carefully placed the wriggling worm on the little hook. 

"Ready, Daddy!" she called, and Daddy came over and helped her cast the line into the lake. To the amazement of both of them, soon the bobber took a dip into the water. Daddy talked her through reeling the keeper-sized fish onto the shore.

"I'll name him Lucky, because he is lucky I caught him!" she proudly announced.

Lucky's luck ran out, though, when he realized this wasn't going to be a catch-and-release situation. 

**************************
I'm joining again with the Six Sentence Story link-up. Go read the other entries, and feel free to add your own. This week's prompt: release.