Category Archives: Thoughts

Spring has Sprung

This past Sunday was my least favorite day of the year – Daylight Saving Time/Time Change Sunday. My body has a very difficult time adjusting, even though I try to go to bed early, etc.

I still don’t understand why they don’t have the time change Friday night/Saturday morning. But they didn’t ask me, right?

Anyway, I’m always paranoid that I’m going to set my clock in the wrong direction, or miss my alarm, or forget to set it altogether. In this day of “smart” technology, we can’t even set our phones ahead. They change automatically. Or, they are supposed to.

I knew someone whose phone didn’t update correctly and they were late for practice before Sunday service. Ever since then, I’ve set multiple alarms and even pulled out the old “manual” alarm clocks.

This year I set my alarm an hour earlier just in case something didn’t go right. The only clock I could set ahead was my oven clock, which I did. Then when my alarm went off at 5:15am, I got up and went out to the kitchen to see if my phone matched the oven clock. It did! Score! Then I went back to bed for another hour. 🙂

We got to church on time and had a wonderful worship service. We sang/played one of my favorite packages – Crown Him King of Kings/Crown Him with Many Crowns. I love playing those songs!

The weather even cooperated and was absolutely gorgeous!

Perhaps Spring has (finally) sprung!

(We are supposed to get back down in the 50s tomorrow, but we won’t think about that right now.)

Do you have any stories from Time Change Sunday? I would love to hear them!


Encouraging the Next Generation

Happy New Year!!

December and January have been super busy months, but that’s no excuse for neglecting to post anything. This won’t be long, but I wanted to share a thought with you.

This past Sunday, we had a college singing group visit the church. (These groups are near and dear to me because I was in a group in college as well.)

As I watched the group warm up before the service and sing during the service, it struck me that these young people are choosing to use their talents for the Lord. No one forced them to be in a singing group (as far as I know). No one was making them practice and travel. Good for them!

Most, if not all, of us have been in this same situation. We chose to serve in the music ministry at church growing up or while we were in college. Those were not the easiest of times. There were many times that I wanted to quit. It just didn’t seem “worth it.”

Encouraging words from kind church members made all the difference. Now that I am in the position on the other side of college (aka: getting older), I need to speak up and encourage the next generation.

Everyone needs encouragement. You may not know what someone is going through while they choose to serve the Lord in a church ministry.

But the next generation definitely needs our encouragement. If they quit serving in church, who will we have left?

Just a thought for this week. Sorry if it’s so deep. Enjoy your day!

Final Thoughts

On-the-Go PianistSince this 31 Day Challenge really started the evening of September 30, I did my Day 31 yesterday.

But since today is October 31, I thought I should do a final post to recap the month.

Wow, thirty-one days of blogging. I really did it.

When my sister first suggested I do this with her, I wasn’t sure what I would blog about. Obviously music, but the specifics were a little harder to think of.

Now that’s it over and I look back on my experience, I had a really fun time. The challenge was just that, a challenge.

I loved communicating with all my readers about the different aspects of music.

I picked up some valuable resources along the way.

I made new friends.

I reconnected with old friends.

(I just said “I” a lot, sorry!)

I’m not planning on blogging every day from here on out, but I definitely will be blogging more often. I even have some ideas for some series!

Thanks to all of you who followed and read my posts and commented on them.

Thanks to my sis and hubby for encouraging me in this challenge.

Goodbye, October!

Hello, November and December – the busiest months for church musicians!

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Reflections of an Aunt

Almost sounds like a song name, right?

Today, my sister’s youngest girl turned 2 years old. This would be my youngest niece. (I had to think about that for a second.)

First of all, I can’t believe that I’m old enough for her to be turning two. I love being an aunt, and I love spoiling my nieces and nephews.

My sister’s oldest girl is just learning to play the piano. My sister is teaching her; you can read all about it here.

I went to visit my sister this past summer, and she suggested that maybe I could give Hope her weekly piano lesson. I said it didn’t matter to me either way, but that I would love to do it.

Well, we brought that subject up to Hopey, and she didn’t seem as excited about it. She was worried that I “might not be able to know where she was in her book and be able to catch up.”

My sister and I just exchanged amused smiles and kept quiet. Little did Hopey know that we use the same method books for our teaching.

Now that I’m teaching again back home, I get the privilege of teaching my two oldest nephews. We are having a blast!

Here’s hoping that tomorrow night they practiced their required time so I can give them a piece of candy!

(Oh, and by the way, my sister has this awesome blog called Small Steps, Big Picture – you should check it out!)

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Keeping Piano Lessons Fun

I just finished giving piano lessons, so I’m still thinking back over how they went. (The students did great, by the way; it’s the teaching part I’m thinking about.)

I always want my students to love music and love playing the piano. I try to make the lessons fun, too. I know that scales and chords can’t be all that exciting by themselves, so I try to explain and give examples of how that element is used in music. (say church music, for example)

I’ve explained to students before how inversions play such an important role in hymnplaying. They look at me like I’m kidding. But then I play a hymn and show them what I mean. Then I say something like, “See? Chords and inversions are so cool! You can do so much with them!”

You can see their eyes light up, either with understanding or amusement at their teacher. But that’s ok. I don’t mind. When they get up to play a hymn in church and use an inversion, they will see how much fun it is.

Our excitement in lessons tonight was me killing a HUGE mosquito with my shoe (while jumping up and hitting the wall) and recording a song using my iPhone.

Yep, fun stuff! (You should try it sometime!)

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

On this day…25 years ago…

Today’s date holds a special meaning for me.

Nope, it’s not my birthday.

Twenty-five years ago, on October 3rd, I started taking piano lessons. I was seven years old, and my mom dropped me off at my teacher’s house and watched me walk up to the door. According to my mom, I rang the doorbell then turned and waved excitedly at my mom, and sort of bounced up and down with excitement.

I don’t remember all of that, but I do remember that I was very excited about learning to play the piano. I had been wanting to learn how to play since I was five.

I would sit in church and watch the church pianists in awe, wishing that someday I could play like them.

My dad told me that if I really wanted to play the piano, I should pray for us to be able to get a piano. So, of course, I prayed with child-like faith. And on Christmas Day when I was six, I got my answer to prayer. You can see my huge smile in the picture below.

My Christmas present - a piano!

I was one very excited 6 year old!

I’m very thankful to say that twenty-five years later, I’m still playing the piano. And I’m the one now sitting at the piano with little girls looking up to me. I don’t take that responsibility for granted.

I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed playing every day of those twenty-five years. Have I ever wanted to quit? YES! Have I gotten worn out? YES! But, with the Lord’s help, I haven’t quit. And, for the majority of those twenty-five years, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my parents. They never complained about paying for lessons, or driving me to the teacher’s house, or hearing the same song played over and over and over and over.

I was telling my mom the other day that this twenty-five year anniversary was coming up. She said that all the money and time that they invested was totally worth it. She never once regretted it or thought about how she could have used that money elsewhere.

Also, my sister (and my closest friend) encouraged me. Part of her “encouragement” was by playing my hard-practiced songs by ear without practicing…but that just motivated me more. She also was there when I wanted to quit and helped me keep going. (Thanks, sis!)

There have been five private piano teachers over those twenty-five years, and they all influenced me both musically and socially and spiritually.

Throughout the years, there have been numerous people (too many to count or name) that have encouraged me in my piano music.

Playing for a Cystic Fibrosis Benefit Concert in 2011

Playing for a Cystic Fibrosis Benefit Concert in 2011

Lastly, my husband is my constant supporter. He thinks it is “so cool” that he can have a private concert anytime he wants.

Twenty-five years (yes, a quarter of a century) have come and gone, and I still love playing the piano!

Here’s to twenty-five more years!

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

On-the-Go Pianist: 31 Day Challenge

As the title suggests, I’m trying something for the next 31 days (October). I’m participating in a link-up party with bloggers from all over. The Nester is hosting this little blog-get-together on her site. Anyone who blogs can post their articles about any topic.

Sounds fun, right? Right. And scary.

My sister has her own blog over at Small Steps, Big Picture. She follows lots of blogs where people post about DIY projects, house stuff, marriage, mothering, etc. Then she shares them with me!

She told me about this 31 Days of Blogging and suggested we should both do it. At first I was very hesitant, but I’m not one to back down from a challenge. Plus, when I shared the idea with my husband, he was like “I think you should do it.”

So here we go.

Now, obviously, this blog is about music. So in thinking about what topic I would blog about, the obvious answer was “music.” But…music is a very broad topic. If I was going to blog about something for 31 days in a row, I wanted it to be a little more specific.

Then, it hit me. I could blog about how music/piano affects my everyday life. Let me explain.

I’m a very busy person. (Not saying that other people aren’t busy.) I work a full-time job 40 hours a week. And I love my job. But it has nothing to do with music.

Starting in October, I am going to start giving piano lessons again, after taking a year off after I got married. I will be teaching 3 days a week.

Also, in October, our main pianist at church will be out of town on vacation. Therefore, I get the fun job to fill in – choir, offertory specials, hymns, etc.

Then, to top it all off, I am a wife to my husband and “mother” to 3 fun-loving, attention-hogging dogs. (Even as I’m writing this, my dog is begging for me to pet him.)

Please understand, I’m not complaining. I love what I get to do and be. But, you can see how I figured with all that I have going on, I might as well do a 31 day blog challenge! It’s hard for me to back down from a challenge!

Badge/Button I made for the Link-up Party

Badge/Button I made for the Link-up Party

For the next 31 days, I will be writing about how I experience music, prepare for church music services, teach piano – all from the perspective of “on-the-go”!

If you don’t think my little series will interest you, then that’s fine. But if you do, I think it would be fun to hear your comments and what you experience with music everyday.

If you are joining us from The Nester link-up party, thanks for stopping by! I’m looking forward to this challenge, if nothing more than for the fact of telling my sister everyday, “I did it!”

Here’s to the next 31 days!

National Day of Prayer – May 2, 2013

Today is the National Day of Prayer. Since 1952, Americans have been encouraged to pray on the first Thursday of May.

Many churches hold services on this day. Some churches have an open-door policy where people can come and pray throughout the day.

Whether you are attending a service or not, please take a minute to pray for our nation today. God promises to answer our prayers (II Chronicles 7:14).


(words and music by Irving Berlin)

“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance  to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. “

God Bless America,
Land that I  love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.

Benefits from Classical Music

While some church pianists have been trained classically, many church pianists simply play hymns. Sometimes it might seem that there is not much common ground between the two, but there are great benefits from both. Here are a few benefits for church pianists to brush up on their classical music.

1.  Sight reading! Classical material is great for strengthening your sight reading skills; your ears can learn to enjoy and relax in the different sounds and styles.

2.  Articulation! Many times classical pieces are marked more specifically for dynamics, touch, and tempo. These qualities will make you aware of how to polish your church pieces and enhance the musicality of your sound.

3.  Variety! Styles abound in the classical world, and most of them are beneficial for added creativity in the church music realm.

If you have classical music, pull them out and play a few times a week. For those who have never dabbled in classical literature, buy a book that is at or a little below your comfort level. Try one that surveys Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern, or start with one specific to your favorite period or composer. As you play, listen and watch for ideas to use in your church music. A new perspective from some old classics can benefit everyone.


Accompanist’s Analogy from the Olympics

(NOTE: This article was first published during the 2010 Winter Olympics.)

Last night, Olympic history was set in the pairs figure skating competition. I watched as gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded to the best figure skaters in the world. During the competition, however, something else caught my attention.

The couples had four minutes or so to combine technical skills with artistic grace and make it look easy in the process. Of course, they all had music to help them accomplish this task. One couple fell on a jump; another lost hold of a lift; even another just slipped on the ice. But the music kept going. Just because a mishap occurred on the ice did not mean that the music paused while they regained their composure. All of the skaters had to catch up or keep up with the music. However, every couple finished their routine strong.

The same is true with accompanying. How many of us have made mistakes during a song? We all have to some degree. But the song continues on. We do not pause in the middle of the song or go back and play a section again. Our job is to keep up with the singer, even if we have to skip measures or catch back up.

Don’t let a mistake fluster you during a song. Keep going, support the singer, and finish strong!