Sunday, December 19, 2010

Music to My Ears

Today is the last Sunday before Christmas and so our church choir had a big Christmas Cantata.  About a year ago I was asked to be the ward (or church) choir pianist.  Intimidated doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings inside. 
I’ve been playing the piano sense I was about 12 years old.  My Dad is an amazing pianist and I grew up listening to him play Beethoven, Mozart, and even Rachmaninoff.  The man could sight read pretty much anything, and some of my favorite memories are of falling asleep listening to my Father play the piano. 

I wanted to marry a man who could play the piano like my father so my children could grow up with a love of music in their homes too.  When I was about 12 or so it occurred to me that very few young men play the piano, and even fewer will ever be as good as my Dad.  The realization came to me that if I wanted to have music in my home in the future; I would most likely need to be the one to provide it.  So, I sat down at the piano one day and from middle ‘C’ started counting up and down the key board until I could associate which note on the music went where on the keyboard.  It took a long time, and I have to admit that with the really high and low notes I still have to count to find my keys sometimes. 

My Dad was very busy and tried to give me lessons when he could, but they were inconsistent, and my efforts with “real” teachers were short lived.  Between running track, cross-country playing soccer and working a part time job after school, finding time to practice was difficult and my teachers grew frustrated with me… and I with them.

I ended up pretty much teaching myself how to play.

I’m decent but my technique lacks.  I’ve learned enough tricks to B.S. my way through most songs… if everything else fails always hit the base and soprano note. 

But I had never played in a rehearsal, so my experience playing in front of people was very small… and whenever I notice someone actually listening to what I’m playing, I start over analyzing, I internally start criticizing my own technique, I get very nervous… and I choke.  I hit wrong notes, when I know I know the song.  It’s so frustrating.

After my first rehearsal with the choir I thought they would release me. 

They didn’t. 

I’ve stumbled my way through many performances, and asked a dear friend to play a few songs that my fingers just couldn’t handle.  I’ve walked into the hallway and cried after messing up… although many swear they didn’t hear it.

I’ve slowly started getting used to playing in front of others.  Although I still get very nervous I’ve come to realize that I can only do the best I can, and that has to be good enough.  I spend hours practicing before each performance so I know that at least I really did give it all I had.

Today I started getting nervous before the cantata, and then while I was sitting in the pew waiting for the choir to be invited to come forward I felt the spirit whisper to me, “This isn’t about you.  This is a celebration of the birth of our Savior.”  I relaxed then and realized that He isn’t going to be looking over my shoulder criticizing my every mistake, and if He isn’t going to be criticizing me… then I shouldn’t be either.

Some of the songs in this cantata are some of the hardest I’ve ever taken on.  It ranged from 2 sharps to 3, 4 and even Oh Holy Night in 5 flats! 

I played my best today.

It was music to my ears… and I hope it was music to His ears too.

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