Today’s post won’t be terribly long. But since these Monday posts are supposed to be about my personal musical history I thought I’d share this quick memory.
I was 12 years old and we were getting ready to visit my grandparents for the weekend. I’m not even sure how it exactly came about, but I was asked to sing special music for the Sunday morning service while I was there. I was more than a little nervous. I had played for the occasional Sunday service but this was different. It wasn’t going to be happening while others were singing. It would be just me.
I sang a song called “My Father’s Eyes” originally recorded by Amy Grant. I had loved the song for a while and jumped at the chance to perform it. But, yeah, I was nervous! I hadn’t had a single private voice lesson at that point so I was simply going with what came naturally. I can’t remember much of what anyone said to me after. It didn’t really matter. There was something about that moment that felt so very “right”. Music and faith have always been so intrinsically linked and that experience simply helped build on that.
I’ve sung in many venues and in front of crowds of various sizes. I’ve sung in churches, at conferences, at camps, in theatrical productions . . . but there’s something about that first one that will always be special.
April 25, 1973, was a Wednesday. On that day a very eager 4 1/2 year old sat down on a piano bench for her very first lesson. Her mother had worked to find a teacher who would take a student younger than 5. The little girl could barely sit still, she was so excited.
There was only one time that she ever asked her parents to let her quit and that was about a year after she started. After all, trying to put both hands together was hard! But thanks to a patient father who sat by his tearful daughter’s side while she worked her way slowly through the piece, she overcame that challenge. And there was never a time from that point on that she ever considered giving up on the instrument.
As you may have guessed, that 4 1/2 year old was me. I’m staring my 50th birthday in the face in a few days which means it’s been more than 45 years since that first lesson. Since that time I learned to play the flute, took several years of private voice lessons, fell madly in love with the world of the theater, and even majored in vocal music education. Today, I am a paid accompanist and direct the annual spring musical both at the local high school. I am in my first as the color guard coach at the same school and work with local community theater groups as a performer, director, pit musician . . . whatever! But my first love is, and always will be, the piano.
It’s so much more than just a musical instrument to me. It’s a way to vent frustration. A solace when life gets hard. The means for expressing an emotion that might be difficult to put into words. My most constant companion. In a way, it has always been a form of self-care. I could not possibly list the various piano works that have perfectly touched my heart or ministered to my soul. After more than four decades, there is still a thrill when I conquer a difficult piece.
What I marvel at most is that, even now, after all these years, I am still drawn to it. I still seek time at the keyboard when I’m worn down, tired, frustrated, exhilarated, or feeling a little silly. No matter how much life may change, the music is always there. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.