Monday, February 2, 2015

{Journal Prompt} Music

Not my piano, but my piano was (is) this color!

This past Friday I went to the "big city." Earlier I mentioned I was studying to become a group fitness instructor and my test was scheduled for Friday afternoon. Mother Nature didn't care though and we had another snowstorm raging outside. While the University I was headed to did not shut down, the testing company was notified they "might" shut down so they cancelled my test. While they did notify me by calling my home phone and emailing me, unfortunately, I didn't know that until I had already driven the hour to the city, did some shopping, and arrived to take my test. The silver lining is I now have another week to study as it's now rescheduled for this coming Friday.

While in the city, I spent a gift card to one of my absolutely favorite places to shop - the bookstore! I started picking up books for my kids - like I tend to do. However, this time I decided to get more books for myself since I was spending my birthday gift card. One little gem I picked up was a journal book with 300 writing prompts in it.

I decided that instead of handwriting them, I would periodically take one and use it to write a blog post. So, welcome to my first installment.

Write about an extracurricular activity you did when you were growing up, and how it affects (or does not affect) your life now. 

I was involved in so much growing up. I was blessed to land in the fourth spot out of five children. By the time I was in high school, my three older siblings were out of the house, my dad worked at a job that allowed for very flexible hours, and my mom went back to work as well. We had time and money for me to do activities and I certainly did plenty.

I think the thing that affected me the most was music. When I was five years old I apparently asked my mother to learn to play the piano. We had a big old-fashioned upright in my parents bedroom. I liked to go in an plink away on it.

The music teacher for our school district also went to our church and was a family friend. She agreed to teach me. I was pretty happy until I realized how hard it was to learn to play! It was like learning a whole new language!

It wasn't long until my teacher realized I wasn't memorizing the notes, but rather using the fingering numbers to play. This worked great until you started playing higher or lower notes. Then it was blatantly obvious. This was not her first time teaching, so she simply switched me to a book without fingerings. I soon begged my mother to let me quit. And she did. I remember hiding in the bathroom the day Mrs. House came and my mom told her I no longer wanted to play.

Fast forward to fifth grade. I'm not sure if it's like this anymore since my boys are homeschooled, but in fifth grade you could play in the band and start learning an instrument. Our family owned a clarinet so that is what all of us played while we were in fifth grade. It always worked out that when a new sibling was coming in to fifth grade, the older one was stopping band.

Miracles of miracles, I learned how to read music and once again began plinking away on the piano. The only issue? I could only read the treble clef (or right hand) notes and none of the bass notes (or left hand notes). I asked my mom if I could take piano lessons again. She agreed but I had to call Mrs. House and ask.

I was in seventh or eighth grade when this happened. She only had openings for me in the summertime so that is when I took lessons. I was in high school (and probably had showed her I was serious about learning) before she took me on during the school year.

I also continued to play the clarinet in the band. I quit my seventh grade year which actually worked out well. That's when my little sister was in fifth grade so she had a chance to learn to play the clarinet. She decided not to continue though and I went back to it my eighth grade year and continued playing all the way through high school.

My sophomore year I played the trombone for one season of basketball. Our pep band for basketball games was sorely lacking so myself and two friends volunteered to learn enough to play the songs. My arms just simply aren't long enough to hit that last slide position though! I was very happy when the new freshman arrived the next year and had three trombone players among them!

This was probably 1989. 
I'm on the far right almost off the photo.
This was actually chorus but many of us played in band too.

And yes, I also sang in the chorus. I started in fifth grade and went all the way through high school. It wasn't until about 7-8 years ago that I started singing in public again. I've always sung in my car. Just ask my boys. I joined the worship team at my church and soon after that I started singing solos, something I never did in high school.

So how has this affected my life? One is the regret that I didn't continue with music after high school. It wasn't until I had children of my own that I even started thinking again about playing.

When all my boys were old enough, I started them on learning how to play the piano. I found a wonderful homeschool young lady who was willing to take on all four of us. That's right, I started lessons once again. 

My family after my first ever recital.
June 2011

My boys were so little here! My youngest (white shirt in the front) was only seven! My middle son (glasses) was ten and my oldest was 14. My oldest and I took lessons for about 2-1/2 years. I simply lost the time necessary to practice and had refreshed my memory enough to do what I wished - play well enough that I could play on our worship team. I knew I would never be a concert pianist. 

My oldest son, while talented, did not enjoy lessons. Since he was so much older when we started, I allowed him to stop playing. However, my other two boys are still playing and have since added more instruments. My youngest son added the violin this past fall and my middle kiddo just added the drums. No worries though, we're starting out with just a practice pad. My hearing is still intact - for now.

Music enriches my life. It relieves stress. It helps me worship God. I feel incomplete without it. Music has had a profound impact on my life and for that I am very grateful.

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