Our choir had been working on a difficult piece for weeks and weeks. It was finally time to perform it for the congregation. There were many parts and many pages to this difficult piece. Everyone was ready and everyone knew their parts. Since there were so many pages to this song, I copied as many as would fit on the ‘desk’ of the piano and laid them out singly so I could see each page. But there wasn’t enough room for all the pages, so I had to put the choir book to the right of all the single pages. I was still going to have to turn just one page of the book to complete the song and I was ready.
I played for the prelude, the congregation hymns, there was an offertory and a prayer, then it was time for the choir to come and sing. I made sure all of my music was properly laid out, I tried to calm myself down, (I get nervous) I looked at the choir director, he nodded at me and away we go! First the intro…..then the choir began so beautifully, I’m reading the music as we go and everything is just wonderful, I’m smiling, everyone is in tune, the piano is in tune, then comes time to turn that page….at the very end of the piano desk….way over to my right. I reach to turn the page, the page that has been turned so many times, the page that has become rather worn and brittle. Well, what happens next is a disaster. I turn the page, it completely rips out of the book and before I knew it, I had thrown that page into the front row of the congregation! Now, I don’t know what I played at that time since my music was gone, I just kept playing and the choir sang on. Luckily, someone in that front row grabbed the page, brought it up to me and placed it on the piano desk, but unknowingly she placed the page upside down! I quickly grabbed it with my right hand (my left hand continues playing something, to this day have no idea what) and turned that page right side up.
So we finished the song, the choir exited and the service began. Afterwards, I heard many comments about how well the choir sang and of course, talk of the flying choir music. (I’ll never live that one down!) I also learned that most of the choir members didn’t have a clue at what had happened. I’m so glad I now use a music pad and don’t have to worry about turning pages anymore! I use my foot to turn pages now. My hands are too busy! The one limb (left foot) that used to do nothing, now has an important job. It turns my pages with a foot pedal. I love technology!
This reminds me of another incident where the music takes over and a person can’t help but get into the beat. It was at the beginning of Christmas season and the store always uses a lot of empty boxes that were wrapped as Christmas presents for decking the halls. One of the associates was carrying a load of them in her arms….I would guess there were ten of them stacked on top of each other according to size, big on bottom and small on top. They were stacked so high that she couldn’t see over top of them. She had to hold them to the side so she could see. Luckily, they weren’t heavy because they were empty. So there I am playing the piano, I don’t remember what I was playing, only that it had a heavy March like beat. I can hear her heels clicking as she walked, coming up from behind me. Each click of her heel was with the beat of the music. (I knew by the sound of her heels who it was, Mary, a friend of mine.) Of course to be ornery, I decided to speed up the music. Her pace quickens to keep up with the beat. I go a little faster. She walks a little faster. By the time I can see her, her stomping is loud and fast, she’s lifting up her knees high, doing a March to the beat. She’s doing this to make me laugh and its working. I’m cracking up laughing at her and she’s looking at me laughing and marching, people are staring, just as I don’t think it could possibly get any more funny, all the boxes…yes all ten of them came crashing down! It was so funny and everyone who stopped to stare was cracking up too! Mary quickly regained her composure, picked up all the boxes, brushed herself off and went on her way.
Hmmm……I’m now reminded of another funny dance story from behind the grand piano that involves bubble wrap. I think I’ll save that for next time.
People ask me…”So, if I started lessons now, just how long will it take for me to be good at it?” I tell them, it all depends on you. How determined you are, how much time you want to devote to practice, how serious you are. All of these factors determine if a person will be successful. Most people cannot fathom just how long it takes to master it. I am still trying to master it! You never stop learning and never stop improving unless you stop playing and practicing.
Some ask me if I think it’s easier or harder for an adult to learn to play piano. I think there are advantages to both. Adults have greater comprehension than children and they can learn faster. But, children have a greater finger dexterity than adults. Adult fingers are not as limber and that can be a problem. With adults, you know they want to be there (at their lesson), with kids, it might be the parent that is forcing them. I do however think that the parent plays a huge role in getting the kids to practice, they need that guidance. If a child has a choice, of course they would rather be playing video games or whatever fun things there are to do these days. But there is a fine line of forcing the child to practice and take lessons if they absolutely hate it.
Yesterday, while sitting behind the grand piano I was playing a song someone requested by the Everly Brothers, All I Have to Do is Dream. For those of you who don’t know that song, you can view it on You Tube by clicking here.
Anyway, the fellow that requested it was standing there enjoying the music when a lady slowed down as she was walking by, listening to the music. She then stopped and stood there listening, a distance away from me. I looked up at her to smile and she was wiping tears from her eyes. As I finished the song, she walked up to me and said that it was beautiful and she told me that “All I Have to Do is Dream” was her and her late husband’s ‘song’. She told me that her husband died in 1987 and that whenever she hears that song, it reminds her of him. She was so sweet and beautiful. She thanked me and went on her way.
If I had a dime for every time someone has approached me to say that a song that I had just played reminded them of someone or a special time in their life, I would be a rich woman. Just as a certain smell can take you back to a moment in time, a certain song can do the same.
People ask me all the time…”So, how long have you been playing piano?” I used to answer and tell them in years, but now that I’m older and I think of just exactly how MANY years I’ve been playing, (scary thought) I now just say, I started lessons when I was seven. Sometimes if I’m feeling kinda sassy that day, I’ll look down at my watch and say since noon today, or since six o’clock tonight or whenever it was that I began my gig that day.