Sunday, September 09, 2007

Piano Lessons

About a year and a half ago I was visiting our spanish congregation as part of my church assignment. At that time, we asked the leaders of their women's organization if they needed us to help them in any way. At that time they expressed a need for piano lessons because no one in their congregation was trained to play the music for their meetings.

We took this concern back to the church authorities, but because of various circumstances, nothing was ever done to help with this problem. Not long ago I was asked to substitute for a man who plays the organ regularly for their congregation. It occurred to me that if we had started training them back when they first asked for help, there might have been someone from their own congregation trained enough to play the organ that day instead of me.

I determined that I was going to personally get involved and make sure that they got the piano lessons they needed. I talked to their women's leader and arranged for us to start lessons with some of the women from their congregation. We are scheduled to have our first lesson this week. I have talked to six people from my own congregation that have said they are willing to help me take turns teaching.

When I was young, I was extremely fortunate to take piano lessons from an older lady in the community. She played the piano professionally, and was very good. In her older years she took on many piano students. I had been taught a few of the fundamentals by my mother and sister, and then I had taught myself to read music. This teacher, Mamie Neal, agreed to take me on as a student. I had two lessons a week with her, and a theory lesson on Saturday. Guess how much we paid each month for those lessons. Twelve dollars a month! That was a cheap price even back then, but you could expect to pay that much per lesson at some places today. I think she did this out of love of teaching, not out of desire for money.

Our theory lessons were held on Saturday morning, and all of the students would come to a class with students of their same level. We would have as many as 20 students in one class. Mrs. Neil had homemade chalkboards all around her garage, and benches placed in front of each. At the front of her garage she had two pianos. We would sit at our chalkboards, and she would have us write measures of music, then we all would take turns clapping out the rhythms we had created. Sometimes she would have us play a game where we would close our eyes and she would play a note on the piano, and have one of us see if we could come find it on the first try. Once a month she also had one of us do a report about a famous composer. When we were done, she would give the person who gave the report a small plastic bust of that composer. I learned so much in those classes, and I hope to do the same for the class we will start this week.

I don't know how to explain this, but I feel this is something I have to do. I feel like I'm running head long down a hill, and the farther I go, the more I speed up. I can't stop, and I'm not sure if I will crash and fail, or if it will go well, but I have to finish now that I've started. I do have faith that this will work, but some of those I have talked to are skeptical. But even if we fail, I feel the need to at least try. I keep thinking of the saying, "It is better to try and fail than to not have tried at all." Wish me luck.

1 comment:

Nene said...

You never know what seeds you may be planting.