Wednesday, May 4, 2011

a futile attempt at accompaniment


[uh-kuhm-puh-ni-muhnt, uh-kuhmp-ni-]
something incidental or added for ornament, symmetry, etc.
Music a part in a composition designed to serve asbackground and support for more important parts.

Wednesday Night Meeting was an experience...maybe one of a lifetime!  I am going to recount the event to you so you know how I felt...I am sure you have had such experiences in your life, even if it was a totally different outcome or a totally different scenario, you I hope will relate! 

Kelly N. was the song leader.  He asked for a piano player so we could begin song service.  He asked again.  And again.  And again.  I was like seriously, nobody is going to move?  Nobody moved.  He asked again.  I thought, I mean, I know I can play, but I have NEVER played for a Wednesday Night Meeting in my life!!!  Surely someone will get up.  If you aren't getting the picture, believe me, poor Kelly was uncomfortable.  He doesn't lead singing very often and I think he wanted to die right then and there and we hadn't even begun yet!  Nobody moved.  And so, he made some comment like you all surely don't want me to try to play and he asked again.  I think like 6 times, maybe it was 8 was a lot of times that he asked!!!  I finally raised my hand and said: "If you promise to play songs I know, I will play."  He said: "I promise!"  

As I walked up to the piano in my very casual knit wear and flip flops (neither of which I would not have worn if I had known I was going to be in the spotlight), I am thinking...why did I do this? I can't play that well.  When was the last time I sat down and played the piano, for reals?  Have I even touched it since I played and sang a special last September Camp?  I sure hope I can do this!  This is scary!  My hands are shaking. I hardly can open the piano closure that hides the keys.  It gets stuck. I can't move it.  I forget about it though it is hiding half of the black keys...I ignore it.  I must get calm.  Yah, "be calm Misty, you can do this" I said to myself.  

The song that Kelly asks me to play is Trust & Obey. Very ordinary.  Very basic.  It was written in one flat.  But I stumbled.  I fumbled.  I lost it. I stopped.  I couldn't get my hands to move. They stuck on keys.  They hit other keys.  They wouldn't cooperate.  My heart was thumping in my head.  All I could hear was my heartbeat.  I didn't hear any other music.  I only saw notes that I couldn't play accurately.  What must it have sounded like?  Only the audience and congregation would tell you what it was like to try to sing to such an accompaniment, I can't, but know it must have been beyond awful.  There were 5 verses, but I didn't know which one we were on or how many times I had played the verse, so after 3 of them. I stopped.  The congregation went on.  I realized we weren't done.  Oh what a fool...why wasn't I counting???  Why did I offer to do this?  What made me think I was equipped?  Why hadn't someone else who truly can play offered?  Why hadn't I done a better job at my piano skills and been ready for a moment like this?  I was ready in other ways of life, why not for this?  I could stand up in a room of 50 strangers and speak giving a 30 second commercial on what I do for a living and how I can help your business, but play the piano in front of 150 or 200 or 250 people I knew???  (Thank goodness it wasn't Sunday Service of 400 people!!!)  That I obviously could not do!

So...Kelly gives me a break and reads a passage and then we progress to song number 2.  The Love of God.  I shake my head and tell Kelly N. "No, I can't play in 5 flats".  Theoretically, I can play this, but after a horrible job at a simple song, I WAS NOT trying this song written in 5 flats.  Yes, playing in 5 flats is very easy, much easier than 4, but that was simply NOT happening!!!  He then asks for Holy, Holy, Holy written in two sharps. I am nervous as soon as I see the page.  I wonder if I can do any better job than the first time...I don't really think I can, no, I know I can't.  I am nervous beyond your wildest imagination!  I can't play worth a flip!  So, alas, we are done with that song. I want the floor to swallow me with the piano bench too!  I simply want to die.  I feel like a pancake.  I can "see" all the girls staring at my back, making faces each time I screw up, knowing they are rolling their eyes at each other, snickering, wanting to outright Laugh Out Loud...yah...this is "what I see".  I want to not walk back to my seat but escape out the back door.  The one right there by the piano.  Nobody would really miss would be okay...they could find someone else.  Kelly asks if I can play The Family of God.  I don't play choruses...never have and say no.  He was surprised, "not The Family of God?"  I shake my head "No".  Kelly was kind enough to get everyone to sing it acapella.  I didn't think to look if it was in the book, I just said "No".  I sat there till we were done, trying to sing, a lump in my throat, my heart still beating like mad, my fingers still cold, really cold, and my whole hands were shaking, you would have thought me ill...well, I was!  I was ill all.  Completely sick a the lousy job I performed.  My mom would be embarrassed.  My job is done, the job I didn't do very well at all...was over. Done.

People always say they are amazed at how much courage I have...but how can people say I have courage???  I didn't have courage!!! I was struggling...I couldn't make music work the way it was supposed to and all I wanted to do was cry.  That's what I did.  I walked back to the ladies room, found me a stall open, and sobbed.  I couldn't let anyone hear me, nobody could see my pain at what I just experienced, nobody knew the voices I heard in my head, the comments I knew would be said, the looks that I would get, but...but I had to let it out.  I couldn't possibly focus on the message that was to follow if I didn't cry.  Cry the grief I had no other way to express.  My nerves were shot.  I felt weak. I felt like a failure.  I felt a bunch of feelings. I have wanted to play the piano well all my life.  I have wanted lessons, true lessons, not the haphazard lessons I got from my mom who had 11 years of professional lessons and maybe a year of lessons from another wonderful teacher (wish I had been able to have TONS of lessons from her - I absolutely Loved her, her method, her music style, her personality).  I wished that I had time in my life to play my other girls get to do...the piano I finally have had for almost 3 years now after not having one for 10 years when I moved out from home.  But...

It was Adult Verse Night.  I found mine and read it. I knew it wasn't going to happen by memory tonight.  I read my verse. I sat down.  Nerves still shot.  Still shaking.

The message begins.  Ed K. did a good job on water baptism.  Then its comment time and Ferrell Y. complements me on my attempt to play for the congregation and admires that I kept going and that I did it.  Really?  What are people thinking?  Do they not know how humiliated I was???  If they only knew what I was feeling.  If they only knew that I don't have it all together.  If they only knew that I have always wanted to be a better piano player.  If they only knew that I have many times done a special number, even playing and singing together, but that is totally different.  Not the same!  But alas, they don't know.  They heard and saw what they saw, but they don't know.  They will never know.  Regardless, I can only strive to do better next time.  To take my experience and learn from it.  What would I learn? Make time to play the piano some each day so that when presented with the same need all over again, I can fulfill it with confidence.  But there was more to learn...

The next day I called my brother in California.  He was down.  He was discouraged.  He said he couldn't do it.  All he was was a failure.  He could  never succeed. A story came to mind.  My story.  A recent story.  The piano story.  I shared it.  I told him do you think I would of done better if I had told myself from the beginning that You can do this!  Have Faith!  Believe! (Yah, that song, one of my favorites "Through hard times and good").  Yes, I probably could have done a WAY better job if I simply had had more courage...more faith in myself...less fear...believed that I was capable no matter what someone else was "thinking" or "looking" or whatever.  I shared that I am not perfect but believe you can do better and pray that you will do better and don't tell yourself you can't because that is not true!

Was this the reason for the have a real life situation to share with my brother?  To encourage him?  Maybe.  Was it an experience to remind me that one of the things that I really want to do in life is play the piano?  Maybe.  Was it an experience to help me remember to think positive and have courage?  Maybe.  Regardless, I want to learn from it.  I want to do better next time.  I don't want anyone to cringe when I walk up to play the piano and say, "Oh No, its her again!"  I will create a plan so that next time...if there is a next time...the accompaniment will sing!

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