One of the things I hope to do differently, and hopefully better, in 2013, is to make my blog more a reflection of my whole life, rather than restricting it so much to crafting endeavors. I know my crafting friends can skip over these personal posts in much the same way my personal friends skip over the details in my crafting posts! I maintain the desire to keep everything in one blog, because my life is not compartmentalized.
I was asked this morning to respond to some interview questions for a special little friend who is working on her Music Badge for Girl Scouts. After writing it, I realize it is a reflection of, or at least a peek at, a part of who I am. I will post it here, in hopes that it may be helpful to someone who reads it!
I am honored that you would want to interview me about music. Your questions are EXCELLENT! You know, I was only in Girl Scouts a very short time, and I was already in junior high, but my most favorite badge of all was my Music Badge! Good luck with earning yours!
What inspired you to begin music?
As a very small child, my grandmother had a grand piano. She let me "bang" on it when I was at her house. She had a daughter who could play, and I loved to listen. But, it wasn't personal for me then. But then, when I was in first grade (my first year in school, because we had no kindergarten), a Bible teacher came to my class, a few times a week. This was in public school, believe it or not. She used a flannel board to tell the most wonderful stories from the Bible. She taught us a song, "For God so Loved the World." It was short and had the most beautiful words, but I especially loved the melody. I can remember singing it over and over and over, as I walked to school each day. That is my first memory of absolutely loving music. Then when I was 10, and my daddy had just become a preacher, we were at someone's home. They had a piano. Someone showed me how to play a triad (three notes together, in harmony). I was smitten. What an incredible thing, to hear that chord and know it could come out of my fingers! More than anything in the world, I wanted to learn to play piano.
How did you learn to play piano?
Right away, after being in that home where I played a chord, I begged my parents to let me take piano lessons. My mother arranged to get her Wurlitzer piano (from when she was a child), from her mother. There it was, a piano in my own house! My parents had almost no money, but they found a piano teacher where I could take lessons after school one day a week. It cost $1.00 for a half-hour lesson. My piano teacher said I would have to practice 30 minutes a day. “HAVE TO?” I was thrilled, and practicing was never a real chore for me, because I wanted to play the piano, and I knew that meant I would need to practice. [I didn’t realize it then, but I was learning a great lesson about life: my goal was to play piano. I wanted to do what it took to reach that goal, and that meant hard work!] So, I took lessons, off and on, until I started GIVING lessons, as a senior in high school. BUT, for very much of that time (my grades 5-12), I did not have a piano teacher (for different reasons—we moved a lot, but mainly, there would often not be $$ for lessons). During those long stretches, I would go through my piano books on my own and progress the best I could without a teacher. Through those years, when I did have teachers, some of them were excellent, and they helped me a lot!
Is it easy to learn to play the piano?
No, it is not. And that is why many children/young people give it up. They think they want to play, but when it becomes really hard work, they quit. They would like to play piano if it was easy. But it is not. It is a talent plus a skill. The talent is natural, but it takes a lot of hard work to learn the skill. It is almost like a foreign language. So, it is not easy to learn to play the piano. But, once you have learned, it can never be taken from you, no matter how old you are. It becomes part of YOU, and it’s a most wonderful thing!
Have you ever played any other instruments?
Yes, I was in band in junior high school and high school. I played alto saxophone and tenor saxophone. I also have played organ (the big kind, in big churches) and electric keyboard.
Do you know a lot of music by heart for the piano?
Yes, I do. But when we say “by heart,” we are actually talking about two different things: “from memory” and “by ear.” And the answer to both those for me, is yes. When I was taking lessons, the teacher would require me to “memorize” certain pieces, maybe for a recital or for a contest, or just because it was a good thing to learn to do. Some of those pieces, especially from my more advanced years, I can still play “from memory.” In addition to that, because I played hymns in church for many years, I have many, many hymns in my memory still to this day. (I first started playing for church, in my daddy’s first church he pastored, when I was 11—not long after I started taking lessons. So I have “played for church” almost all my years, for 54 years!!!!) So, I know a lot of songs by heart, if you mean “from memory.” That means I have seen the music, and I can call it into my memory. But, I also can play “by ear.” That means I have never seen the music, but I can hear it in my head and let it come out my fingers! I first realized I could do this when I was in high school. I would want to play a song, but no way could I afford to go to the music store and buy the music. So I just would sit down at the piano, and the song would just sort of come out. I can’t explain it. I can’t do this with every song that is in my head, but some!
Did you have a music teacher, or did you teach yourself?
I already answered this one, and the answer is “Yes, several different ones,” and “Yes, I taught myself some as well.”
I want to also say that God blessed me with a talent for music. Not a star-level talent, but enough talent that I could take it and multiply it, with learning how to use it. But the most important thing about music, for me, is that God allowed me to use it to SERVE HIM through all my many years of living so far. And, you know, God gives different gifts to different people. Whether the gift is music or something else, His blessings are incredibly wonderful for those who take the gifts He gives, and use them for Him!
I’m always somewhat pensive and reflective at the beginning of a new year anyway, and now I’m feeling REALLY nostalgic!