From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Playing the Piano

Christian and Lutheran Life... And What I Think About It...



As God in His wisdom has planned, we don't have many musicians in our church. We have a very good organist who serves faithfully. When he can't be there, Pastor usually can get a substitute organist, a lady from Clarksville who plays beautifully. But if this lady can't come, Pastor calls me and asks if I will play the piano.

I am not a good pianist by any stretch of the imagination. I had piano lessons when I was growing up, but my talent was mediocre at best. I have no inborn gift for reading music; it has always been hard labor for me. If it's unfamiliar music, I struggle pitifully with it! I have even photocopied music and used white-out to remove some notes that were just confusing me.

I can play many familiar hymns without much difficulty, but many other hymns are challenging for me. When I have to play for a service, it seems like the hymn list always includes some selections from the second category. I practice the troublemakers with diligence, and sometimes I do OK on them, and sometimes I hit wrong notes and distress myself with my imperfect abilities. Sometimes I'm nervous, and I have to force myself to relax, focus on the notes and get through the songs.

Over time, I have reached a couple of conclusions about playing for church. I have learned that several ladies in our church play the piano a little. I would be very willing to let any of them play in my stead. But if no one else volunteers, I guess they are content with (or at least resigned to) my efforts.

More importantly, I realized a while back that nervousness is really a self-centered emotion. The piano is part of the music and the music is a part of all the worship that is offered to God through the service. Obsessing about my fears and imperfections is just wrong; I need to play the best I can in humbleness before the Lord and He will bless the music. I try to keep that in mind.

Tonight I have to play for the Lenten service. Pastor called me yesterday afternoon and since then, I 've been practicing. The hymns are "Jesus, Thy Boundless Love To Me" with the Vater Unser melody, "O Dearest Jesus", "There is a Green Hill Far Away", and "Go My Children With My Blessing". In our hymnal, the first two hymns are one difficult minor chord after another, but I found easier arrangements in another hymnal. If I concentrate on reading the notes, I should do all right on them. The other two are easy enough. A short prelude, the four hymns, the offertory, and a short postlude, and I'll be done. Yes, I am a little nervous, but I'll be OK.

3 comments:

Neurotic Mom said...

I'm sure you'll do just fine, they aren't there to listen to you, they are there to sing along.

Genevieve said...

I survived. :D

Neurotic Mom said...

awesome!!

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.