Tag Archives: Accompaniment

Church Lady Complications

Image by Barbara Jackson from Pixabay.

Sunday, when I worship Christ with His family and grow in my faith, is my favorite day of the week. However, even a confirmed church lady occasionally experiences a Sunday that makes her wish it was Monday.

Those tough Sundays happened more frequently during my years as a church music director.

One unholy morning, my pastor met me at the door. He’d changed his sermon topic on the way to church. Would I please restructure the service in five minutes? Thank you.

Half the choir music had disappeared. Who steals church choir music?

The regular accompanist had left on vacation. Our substitute struggled, but she played loud to make up for it. During practice, I sneaked a signal to our young sound man, Dylan. Turn the piano down.

Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay.

I fastened a microphone to my lapel and hung its little black box on my waistband. Dylan usually did a good job, but this morning, the sound system hated us both. After squawking and squeaking sound checks, I quickly made a restroom stop before heading downstairs to warm up the choir. Without warning, the microphone leaped from my lapel and dove into the toilet, followed by the clunk of the little black box.

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay.

I screamed, clearing the restroom of primping churchgoers.

Did I really have to fish the mic out of the toilet?

Ewww. …

Its green power light no longer shone. I wiped the microphone with a dampened paper towel, then tried to dry it. As I headed to the sound booth, I pasted on a toothpaste-ad smile and avoided shaking hands.

Dylan was also a church board member. What could I say?

In a microsecond, I evaluated my fib files. None came close to explaining this.

I held out the still-damp, $200 device. “Dylan, I dropped the mic in the toilet. I’m sorry.”

He stared, then whipped around to test a second mic. “Hurry! Service starts soon.”

No threats of dragging me before the Inquisition. Or the budget committee.

Image by Valerie from Pixabay.

The little green light on this second mic shone like a candle of compassion. I rewired myself, incredulous at his forbearance.

Decades later, I remember that complicated Sunday, when I wished with all my heart it was Monday.

Thanks to a fellow Christian’s maturity, not so unholy, after all.

Image by BenteBoe from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever experienced a complicated Sunday?

A Plunker’s Piano Lessons

I started piano lessons at five. I stopped at the ripe old age of nine.

Statistics indicate I’m not alone; 6,761,141,370 of the world’s 6,761,141,379 people have taken — and quit — piano lessons.

My early days at the piano.

I blame my parents. Neither had musical training, yet Dad’s big hands overran the keyboard like a spring storm. Mom, though partially deaf, could listen to a song, then play a full-fledged accompaniment in any key.

At five, I, too, picked out tunes. Why bother with notes? Neither did I (shudder) count beats. Mixing music, God’s gift, with arithmetic (eww), appeared one more weird complication adults demanded. My brother also deemed piano lessons unnecessary.

Mom tried to explain. If only she could have taken lessons as a child!

I would have remained unconvinced — except for strong capitalistic instincts. Mom paid Mrs. Snyder 50 cents a lesson, but she always refunded a nickel to me. With yellowed books and sheet music piled everywhere, her musty house smelled mysterious and musical. Thousands of former students’ photos adorned her walls, as Mrs. Snyder had been teaching 200 years.

My grandson played piano at a holiday concert Christmas 2019.

I played my first piece using three keys, then colored the page’s fun pictures. I liked Mrs. Snyder, I liked nickels and I liked Mom’s shining eyes when I practiced.

Sadly, Mrs. Snyder passed away. My new teacher handed me practice sheets instead of nickels. No pictures. I played songs like “Gavotte in G” and “Requiem for a Student Who Didn’t Practice.” Mrs. Mozart made me (choke!) play duets with my brother. We bowed and curtsied at stiff, scary recitals. The longsuffering teacher assured our reluctant mother we weren’t destined to play at Carnegie Hall.

Mom finally let us quit. Free at last!

Not until I attended college did I realize my loss. There, I met people whose fingers blurred over the keyboard. One blind friend played as if a single organism — part instrument, part human. Her music rippled up and down my backbone, joy unleashed.

Why are mothers always right? Especially when they preach, “What goes around comes around.” My own children blossomed with initial interest, but only one persisted into high school. As they plinked and plunked their first practices, I wondered, for the first time, if Mom had enjoyed mine as much as she’d claimed.

Still, my kids learned to read music, and piano background fueled interest in many other song forms.

Our piano — the first purchase my husband made after medical school graduation — often sits silent now, though I try to play daily. My fingers itch to exchange my laptop’s tippity-taps for music. Soon, I’ll touch the piano keys and listen to less-than-perfect love.

Even if nobody gives me a nickel.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you taken piano lessons?