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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Payoff, eighteen years later

Twenty-two years ago, I learned to play the piano.  I was eight, and excited to begin playing beautiful music that would fill the house with melodious wonder.  Four years later, I quit.  Diligence wasn't my strong suit (I would like to make it now, if only I had the time to be diligent about anything), and my older sister played much better than I did.  So when I started playing the flute, my mother let me quit piano lessons.  She always told me, however, that one day I'd be glad I had learned to play.

Today was the day.  

We have a very small church branch here in Baku.  There are only twenty adults, and so everyone generally gets an opportunity to help out.  I've taught Relief Society, helped out in Primary, given a talk, borne my testimony several times, and taught the sisters how to make bagels and English muffins - and we've only been here four months.  

Normally we have a very accomplished pianist for our meetings, but she is in the US enjoying her R&R.  Another member of the branch also plays quite well, but he conducted the meeting this morning, as the branch president is in London for training.  His wife plays well also, but she had to tend their five children while he conducted the meeting.  A very sweet sister who plays for the Primary usually fills in when needed, but she wasn't feeling well and had to stay home.  

A few weeks earlier, when I was filling in for the same sister in Primary, I foolishly told them that I could play the piano if they needed.  My calling in Cairo was primary chorister, and I can understand the value of having a piano when children are learning songs.  

I should have considered before I said I could 'play the piano.'  Our piano arrived about two and a half months ago, a new piano we had bought in Virginia and promptly packed off to Baku without ever opening the box.  So to say that I could 'play the piano' after two and a half months' practicing following an eighteen-year lapse was perhaps a little... ambitious.  

One day I'll learn to stop talking so much.

When I got to church this morning I told the branch president's wife (who is the Primary president) that the Primary pianist was going to be out (because I fill in for her when she is gone) and asked if she needed help in Primary.  No, she didn't need help, but could I play the piano?  Sure, I told her, I could play the piano.  Primary children don't notice a few missed accidentals or incorrect chords anyway.

"Great," she told me, "the hymn numbers are up on the piano."

Hymns?  Like for sacrament meeting?  To accompany everyone?

Thankfully, if you play quietly enough, those missed accidentals and incorrect chords can't be heard that well.  Hopefully.  But I will be more diligent in practicing.  Because now I'm the backup-backup-backup-backup branch pianist.  I hope my mother's happy.


Jan said...

Not only is your mother happy, but so is your piano teacher... :-)

Latter-day Guy said...

Hooray! The nice thing about piano lessons––even if, like me, one only ever becomes a mediocre pianist––is that they give you the equivalent of several years of music theory lessons at the same time. As you learn your way around a keyboard, certain fundamentals of western (tonal) music just creep up through your fingertips and into your brain.

Now, just imagine what we might all accomplish if we would generally adopt the Jankó keyboard layout!

PaulaJean said...

And your mother is SO happy that she is making this comment via iPod, which is a pain! Good job!!

UnkaDave said...

And your father is SO happy that he has the laptop, which makes entries a lot easier. So far, I have only had to play for Old Missionaries' FHE, and they are all half-deaf and too kind to care if you mess up anyway.
You go girl!

kelley said...

I have mediocre piano talent but I purposely never practiced hymns so I could honestly say I couldn't play the piano in church. How's that for burying any God-given talent.