Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Musician's Musical Life (Part 1)

A very cute me at age 4 playing in an MYC recital

In a world filled with too many sounds, too much hustle and bustle, and the crazy noise of our secular peers, where did the music go? Sometimes I wonder, but then I realize that I am contributing to this beautiful world myself. No need to despair! It’s been an exciting road so far, so let me show you what I’ve done!

As a musician, who am I? What am I doing here? What, truly, is the point? Now, a while back, I had a hard time understanding what the point of music really was. I mean, I enjoyed it and all, but I still didn't see what the point of it was. You may be wondering that yourself! I'm think I'm starting to see the light, thank goodness! I have learned that my music is a tool--a joy-giving effervescent tool--that can be used in so many ways to touch so many lives, including my own.

First let me show you how it has changed me--where I came from in a sense. I started music as a wee little person, with Music for Young Children ( By the way, I highly recommend this program for little ones, and hope to teach it myself one day. It brought me to the point where I loved making sounds, just for fun! I know that experience was vital in keeping me 'alive' in this whole thing. You see, we moved, and at age 5 I started private piano lessons. My first teacher was sweet and loving, but I needed a firmer hand. (I have been known as a 'strong-willed child'.) We then switched to another teacher, who was just what I needed at that time. She was gently firm, and pushed me enough that I would actually keep moving. Somehow through all this though, I ended up not enjoying playing piano much anymore. Why? Who knows for sure but God! In any case, part of the reason was due to the fact that the quality of this particular teacher was seriously spiralling downward. Her personal life was getting into a bit of a mess, and she started taking it out on her students. The final moment when we got so fed up with it that we left was when, the first lesson back after Christmas, she asked what my favourite gift was, and I told her that it was my new Bible, a pink Bible too! She--a supposed Christian--looked at me oddly and asked: "Yeah, yeah, but other than that?" My quizzical expression as a 10 year old raised in a Christian family must have been something to behold. I think I began by saying "Um, it is the best..." I was going to end by saying "...thing I got for Christmas.", but she took it as a lecture about how the Bible was the best book etc. etc. Her flaming face interrupted me with: "I've been a Christian a lot longer than you have! I know about the Bible!" Ahem. We promptly ended the ‘relationship’. Understandably, however, that turned me even more off music, and I hated the stuff. We went back to my original 'very-nice-but-way-too-sweet' teacher for a little while, and then I gave up lessons for a year and played piano (rather badly) for the jazz band at the local Christian school, such as it was. The whole thing was a total catastrophe! I also tried another teacher in there who was the exact opposite of the 'very-nice-but-way-too-sweet' teacher. That wasn't much fun either.

Fortunately, we moved again. Yay! (Although I wasn’t too excited then!) I found a fantastic piano teacher, and was able to get going with her right away. We 'clicked', which was amazing, and I suddenly was interested in piano again! My saddest moment was when, after a couple months with her, she had to move. All my hopes suddenly slipped down the drain. Now what?

Well, I found another teacher who was okay, but I sensed the quality difference so greatly that I cried after the first few lessons. I didn't know what to do anymore, and I was seriously starting to wish I'd never started music, and that I'd done dance or something else. That was one of those "Why me?" years. I absolutely despised practicing, and only did as much as I absolutely had to. Unfortunately, those feelings have hung on and sometimes still make it difficult for me to enjoy practicing piano. That goes to show you how important a good teacher is!

After a year of this, the piano teacher called my Mom and told me that she couldn't teach me anymore. I guess she recognized the difficulties too, so in a way I was glad for that. We phoned my original teacher (The one I 'clicked' with) and discussed what on earth we should do. Well, miracle of miracles, I was able to get back in with her! She came into our town every week, so she now comes to my house for my lessons! It is thrilling to have her back again! I don't know how I would survive the theory, history, and harmony courses I am now taking without her either. That was truly the work of God.

I picked up the flute at age 9. It was one of those "What instrument would you like to play, dear?" moments, so since harp was too big and expensive, I chose flute. Rather a dramatic difference in size! I had some fun with it at first, and was even able to make some semi-decent sounds, but that didn’t last forever. I took lessons from a local high school band student, and as you can maybe imagine, I didn’t get very far with her. We found another lady nearby who was willing to teach me, but with two VERY noisy kids running around and distracting both of us all the time, not to mention the fact that she wasn’t exactly the brightest flute player in the world, it didn’t work either.

Now what? Well, right there was close to a year of not playing the flute! It sat in the corner, and believe me; you didn’t want to be around when someone mentioned the instrument. It was not a pretty picture! We then tried one more teacher who was not bad, I could have stuck with it fine, but my parents noticed my lack of motivation…hmmm.

They stuck me in a local Christian school’s Grade 7 concert band, because they knew that without some sort of motivation, I wasn’t going to go anywhere. Of course, these kids had only had a month or two of band, and I’d been playing the instrument off and on for a couple years, as well as having several years of piano under my belt. (I was 11 then.) Musically, I had a great advantage over these kids, even though they were a year older, so I excelled greatly, which is what I needed to press on. I probably wouldn’t be still playing the flute if it wasn’t for joining that little band. It certainly presented its own problems; however, as I soon discovered that I ‘liked’ the school scene and wanted to be part of it. How glad I am that my parents didn’t let me go. They chose to keep me home, and to keep my time with these ‘friends’ to a minimum. Paying off immensely over the years, I have now learned what that scene can really do to a person, and I am thrilled to know that I never really got into it.

We moved again. (This was the move where I found the piano teacher that ‘clicked’.) I didn’t just hook up with another school band though! I found a simply SMASHING teacher, that has been my flute teacher ever since. We moved in January of that year, and I began with her in June, so I guess I’ve been with her about 2 ½ years. Seems longer, because I’ve learned so much! It is extraordinarily exciting now! I wouldn’t give up that instrument for anything anyone could offer me.

I’ve come from despising the instrument lying in the dust to taking it as my own first love. Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy playing piano, and I know that it is absolutely vital in music, at least in my opinion, but I’ve come to the point where it is the flute that gives me the most joy. I could spend hours on end practicing it without even having to think a whole lot, whereas with piano, I have to actually figure out what I’m going to spend the next hour at the piano doing. Composing is a lot easier at the piano, and so is just sitting playing to relax, however. There is a lot more you can do in that regard on the piano. Another plus with piano, is that you can start at a much earlier age than flute (due to body and hand size, as well as coordination.), and you learn to do and read more things such as the bass clef, etc.

It has certainly been an exiting journey so far! I’ve learned so incredibly much, from what it takes to be a bad teacher, to what it takes to be a fantastic musician, to what it means to have peer pressure, to how degrading it can be to have a bad teacher.

So, that is my past life in music. There is so much more I could tell you, but I’m not sure how to fit it all in without boring you. If you have questions about it, feel free to ask! I’m excited about this whole thing, and I can’t wait to see what will happen in the future!

Part 2 will cover my present and my future in music! ‘Stay tuned!’

May the peace of God be with you,



Katherine Grace said...

I thought that I'd quickly tell you how to fix your template problem...I had a lot of headaches with this myself for a blog that I was creating:

This technique obviously doesn't convert your html template to Blogger Beta, but it does allow you to use your 'Christ's Instrument' template in its current format.

1. Go into the blogger template 'edit html' section
2. At the bottom of the page there is a button 'Revert to Classic Template'
3. Paste your original html for your template into the box and press save changes.

God bless!

Sheila said...

Thank you Anonymous Camper, for your help. :) I actually have tried that, and while it comes up, it still has 'problems'. Not sure how to fix that, but we'll see. :)

God bless,

Miriam Rebekah said...

I loved reading about your musical history! I know exactly what you mean about a too-sweet teacher. My piano teacher is like that and when I graduate, I hope to find a teacher who is more strict.

I envy you your flute teacher. I don't have a teacher right now and after you told who your teacher was, I was just a little jealous. =) I had a teacher a year ago that I took lessons from during the summer, but she wasn't able to do it last summer, so I'm pretty much just working by myself.
I'm hoping to pick back up with her next year, though.

Looking forward to the next part of your musician's life!

Miriam Rebekah