Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Choice Made Years Ago

Welcome to another day of the Story Session's collective, 40 Days of Blogging led by my daughter, Jamie Bagley.  She is featured today on the Story Session's blog with an interview about her recently published ebook, Book of Hours: In Shadow and Sun. It's a treat!

(photo credit Jamie Bagley)
The theme of Day 10 is "Choices" and we are to choose one of the following prompts: a) How a choice changed my life or b) Choosing my words well. I chose the first one.

There are many choices made through the years that have changed my life. The choice to take piano lessons is one of the earliest I remember. I had already played around with the piano trying to figure things out, so by the time I was nine I was quite ready to learn. It was very enjoyable to me and I learned things pretty quickly. During one recital I and the other students played through an arrangement of part of the "Peer Gynt Suite" by Edvard Grieg, with each of us doing one of the songs. My part was the the song called "Peer Gynt's Return Home."  It was the last song of the recital, and I had worked very hard to get it right. Would you believe I still have the music?

Playing opened up such an outlet of release for me. In an earlier blog post I mentioned about how I would use it when I was angry to help get out the anger by playing a hard, loud song. Sometimes on a Saturday morning if I thought my dad was sleeping too late I would play a loud song on the piano. I know, that was pretty thoughtless, but I was young, and I don't really think he minded all that much. If you're interested here is a youtube video of someone playing the exact song, "Knight Rupert" by Schumann. Other times I would actually get out of washing dishes after supper if I went to play the piano right away. I played hymns a lot and my mom loved to hear me play so she would do the dishes while I played.

My first teacher moved away after two years, but I was able to get lessons from my pastor's wife for the next year. Then she told me that she thought I needed someone who could give me more advanced lessons. For awhile I just played on my own, but when a new youth and music director who also played the piano came to my church, I asked if he could give me lessons. At first he wasn't sure, but we were able to find an agreeable time and place. There was a time just before church one Sunday evening that he asked me to play for the service, but I guess I was still pretty shy back then. My mother told me that I at first told him I didn't think I could, but he returned with, "Gayl, you get up there and play."  Evidently he was more sure of my abilities than I was. Eventually I played some for the youth choir and in later years for the main choir, taking turns with others.

In high school I had the privilege of accompanying the girl's choir which they named "The Girls Glee Club." That was a fun thing for me. As I mentioned earlier I was pretty shy growing up, but having the piano as an outlet really helped me to come out a little more.  One year the choice was made to pick out a pattern and material to make our own outfits for the choir. Those dresses were the most hideous I have ever seen.  I remember several of us talking about them and we said they made us feel like pumpkins! We also had sparkly gold shoes to wear that really didn't even match.

When my husband started teaching in Christian schools I was able to accompany the choir in some of them. I remember one concert where the director and I were both very pregnant due fairly close to each other, but we still were able to do our parts for the concert. Through the years I have also had opportunity to play for the different churches we were a part of. Some had choirs and some did not. In one church one year several of my family members were on the worship team with me and it was such a wonderful time being able to work with family members. The music director at that time gave me some good pointers for my piano playing. When I took that job it had been awhile since I had done much playing in church, so I appreciated his help.  In fact, my experience there helped me to apply for the position in another church and feel more confident in my abilities.

In this new position I found myself practicing at least an hour a day just to be able to handle the choir songs, and I had to pick out what to do for a prelude each Sunday. That experience really stretched me in good ways and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Some of the music was difficult, but like an earlier time, this music director also had more confidence in me than I had in myself. I am very thankful for the experience.

My choice to learn the piano brought many opportunities I would never have had if I had not learned to play. I wonder what my life would have been like if I had not made that choice those many years ago.  Many people have told me that my music really blessed them and really added to the worship during the church service. Also, I would have missed out on the fun and refreshment playing the piano gives me.

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