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Piano

I love this quote, not just at Christmas time, but all year long. Today’s Church meeting is one of my favorite Sundays of the year, the Primary Program! This is the Sunday that the kids take over the program portion of Sacrament meeting and tell the congregation through short talks and songs, all about what they learned throughout the year. There are always bloopers to be had, which makes it really fun to watch, but the spirit that the kids bring is amazing as well, and this Sunday was no exception. I am so grateful for the primary kids, and all kids. They come with so much hope and optimism in life and the world around them. I think we could all benefit from seeing life through the eyes of a child once in a while.

I have the opportunity to play the piano for primary. This is one of my favorite callings in my Church because I can sit behind the piano and help the kids without anyone really noticing me. I can also do that calling and my Seminary calling because playing the piano requires very little preparation on my part as long as I keep up my practicing along the way. I also enjoy sitting behind the piano when chaos ensues in the Primary room, knowing I’m not the first line of defense when it comes to calming everyone down!

Music has always been a big part of my life. I started to learn to play the piano when I started kindergarten. When I started you had to be turning 5 by the end of October or December or something like that to go to school, so I was able to start when I was 4 because my birthday is in September. Growing up I always enjoyed telling people I started playing the piano when I was 4, they’re always impressed. I don’t however tell them I was 4 years and 11 months old. If you ask my mom, I might have gone through spurts of not wanting to play the piano. I do remember not wanting to practice the piano sometimes early on, but don’t remember ever wanting to quit. I have always loved music and when I learned to play songs that I wanted to play, piano became something I loved to do in my free time. I remember playing for at least an hour, often more, every day, simply because I loved playing. I also had the benefit of having a music store just a block from my home. Whenever I had extra money and had heard a song I wanted to learn to play, I would go to the music store and buy it. I have so much sheet music, but it’s all music that at some point in my life I have loved, and even today, I dig through and play many of those songs still.

Now I don’t usually have a full hour to sit and play unless I am preparing for some sort of performance that I have to play for, but I do try to practice several days a week. Often, I set a timer so that I play for at least 20 or 30 minutes, but I find that once I have sat down, if I don’t have anything super pressing to do afterward, I sit for quite a bit longer and play. Over the years I have realized that, just like painting, it is very relaxing to sit and play the piano. And when I have anxiety, playing the piano will help alleviate my anxiety.

I have had the opportunity to play for more primary programs than I have been a spectator for since I became an adult. I have had the opportunity to accompany many soloist singers as well as small groups in Church over the years. I also had the opportunity to play the piano for the Elementary school for 10 years for all of their Christmas and Spring concerts. The music teacher at the school liked such a huge range of music, and the songs that he selected were not always simple songs to play. I learned so much about music from the teacher and gained a great friend through those 10 years of playing for the school.

I teach piano lessons off and on for local kids, once in a while for adults. I find it interesting that they will often find piano difficult, sometimes wanting to quit. But if they can press through that wall, and get good enough to start playing familiar songs, and especially music that they love to listen to, their ability to play will change dramatically. That’s when people’s skills tend to grow quickly because it becomes enjoyable rather than another chore or task to cross off the daily to-do list. It is really fun to watch someone develop a talent they may be inclined toward or may not but through practice they get better and better, it’s like seeing music with fresh eyes when the students keep at it long enough to begin enjoying it.

Today I had planned on doing a post on several things I am grateful for, but I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on my love of music and the opportunity I have to play the piano. I am also grateful for the people who have taught me so much about music along the way, and the ones particularly who have challenged me to get better.

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