Thursday, September 4, 2008

Whoa: The Music Stopped

Sunday was the first time I've played the piano to accompany singing in over 10 years. I thought that I was prepared after practicing many hours over the past 2 weeks; however, I was sorely disappointed when I realized that the children sing the songs about twice as fast as I had been practicing. I did my best mostly playing the treble cleft with an occasional base cleft note here and there. Double time doesn't give my brain much time to process chords or to move my fingers. I got us through the singing time. That's it.

I appreciate the supportive comments I received from others, but I wonder why so many adults have the need to exaggerate and almost lie when they give encouragement. Comments that I respect are grounded in truth. We're glad that you're here. You're so brave: I couldn't possibly play in front of people. You're better than nothing (okay no one actually said that I was better than nothing, but it was implied at one point). I know very well that I am not an amazing pianist nor that it sounded beautiful.

The best commentary on my performance came from an 11 year old boy: "Whoa, the music stopped."

I'm glad that there are still 7 weeks before the big program. Double time here I come.

Note: If you're bored, you can come over and ask me 20 questions while I practice. I need to learn how to carry on a conversation while playing the prelude and postlude.


Stefani M. said...

Woah, they put you to work fast. I'd have to refuse a calling like that, since I, too, haven't played for people in 9-1/2 years... but I also don't have a piano to practice on (and haven't for 9-1/2 years). So, count your blessings! I'm completely envious of being able to pick up your piano skills again.

I keep telling myself that one day we'll be able to afford a piano. Until then, my plan for next year, when we're the last ward in the building, is to practice some after church for fun; then next year when we're the first: before church... after that, I guess I'm out of luck :)

Oh, and your piano playing was so beautiful!!! You're a marvelous piano player!!! (I hate those comments, too. They get handed out like candy at church... when sometimes they shouldn't... like some people really shouldn't be encouraged to keep singing in sacrament meeting...)

Sarah said...

Are you the primary pianist? Oh man, speaking as a former primary chorister, I feel sooooo sorry for you! And with the program coming up? Ours is in 3 weeks & I'm nervous for our new chorister. She's been out of town so much I don't think she even realized most of the junior primary doesn't know any of the words!

Joanne said...

It will come!!! With practice and patience. Been there, done that! And now, I am third string for ward organist (ok, that is pretty sad, but I do my best!). I love the honesty of Primary kids. I wish I had kept a journal of great Primary kid comments while being the pianist! Hilarious. But some were also insightful. Keep a journal of them Jocelyn and you will always have a chuckle.

Jack Turner said...

I've been there! When I'm preluding, I try to put feeling into my improvised playing, and it takes too large a percentage of my brain for it to even wander much, and then someone wants to come talk about my week and ask me to pick a hymn while I'm already playing. It gets easier, but it's still a challenge for me. Girls are probably naturally better at that kind of thing though. :)

The second time I played for seminary, I thought I had the hymn really learned, but I messed up so bad that some of the students laughed at me and I couldn't blame them. Most of that year, my hands would shake from adrenaline for five minutes after I played I was so nervous. I conquered my fear though, and after that I could stand in church or class to bear my testimony without any nervousness at all.

Most people won't hear 95% of your mistakes and those who do will be the people who have enough musical experience to be sympathetic.

Jocelyn said...

Yes, Sarah, I am the primary pianist and the program is going to be quite the adventure. It's great motivation to practice!

Stefani, I think the ward is taking President Hinckley's council to heart when he said that every new member (I think I count as new here) needs “a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’ ”

I'm so grateful that the family I live with has a piano I can play. Thankfully, they're patient with my practicing. Whenever possible, I try to practice at church or other people's homes. I can only imagine how annoying it would be for your renter to play the piano poorly nonstop.

I've started going to church about an 1 1/2 early in order to get some time practicing on the actual piano I'll be playing. Soon I'll need to start practicing on the piano in the chapel so I'll be ready for the CSMP.

Mom - I like the idea of keeping a journal. I think I'll add some blank pages to my Primary Notebook for jotting down kids' comments.

Yes, Jack, I think you're right that most people don't even hear most of the mistakes. However, they do notice if you stop playing during the middle of the song. :)

I feel like nerves are my biggest obstacle right now, but with practice and time I'll be more calm. I have this fear that someone will figure out that I don't really know how to play to the piano. Then I freeze up. It's hard to play the piano if your hands are frozen. I need to stop entertaining that thought.

sjmiller said...

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Jared said...

Aren't kids just awesome?

Beamza said...

By way of id: this is Amy from the ward formerly known as EC 5 :)

I will second Jack: most people will not even notice 95% of your mistakes, so don't sweat it.

Having had a music calling for almost all of my entire church "career," I can honestly say that your playing would sound beautiful to me. (If nothing else, just for that fact that you being willing risk public exposure would allow me to FINALLY do something else!)

I'm sure most music people feel this way.

As for the nauseating comments: sure there are people who are just fake, but most just want to tell you they appreciate your effort and don't quite know how to do it without going overboard.

As it turns out, primary pianist is a pretty sweet calling. Once you get back in the groove (sorry it can take awhile) you'll love it.

Note to Stefani: Since you're complaining, how often have you volunteered to sing in Sacrament? ;P

Jocelyn said...

Hi Amy! It's good to hear from you. You bring up an excellent point: people just want to share their appreciation and aren't sure how to word the compliments in a genuine manner. Sometimes genuine appreciation comes out sappy and syrupy. I know I'm guilty of this, too.

I'm starting to get with the groove. I've started playing along with my iPod, listening to the mp3 version of the Primary songs. It gives me practice following and recovering from mistakes.