Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Music and Martycat

I grew up loving music.  My parents taught me to love Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, Mozart, etc, etc.  My brother, David, taught me to love Bach.  The two and three part inventions soothed me, and I loved learning to play the intricate part of the fugues.  Yeah, I love all genres, (except jazz) but I love the classics.  The Brandenburg Concerto can make me positively euphoric!
It has been my privilege to teach piano for about twenty four years, and I have truly loved it.  Yes, it gets tiring at times, but the satisfaction of teaching someone to play something truly magnificent is so rewarding.  And.... teaching "Mr. Frog is full of Hops" year after year  is also very rewarding in its own right.  It's all good. We are getting ready for our summer recital, and although it's taxing, it is one of my favorite parts of teaching piano.  I love that the kids work and work at one piece until it is perfected.  Jerry can now hum quite a few selections that he hears each night!  I am sure their parents get tired of hearing the songs, but it never gets old for me.
  It was my wish that my children would learn to play, and so I taught each one of them.  All seven can play, but Adam, Bethany and Mark are the ones who enjoy it the most.  I adore the violin, and so it became my fevered hope that I would have my darling twin sons learn this instrument and play together.  How cute would that be?  Alas, Mark rebelled after a very upsetting recital and declared he would no longer take lessons.  Matthew kept trying gamely and was able to get past the squeaky, scratchy sound of the novice violin player.  He and a good friend, Drake Larsen, took from Steve Shupe, (old man Shupe as they affectionally call him) and actually started to sound pretty good!!
Drake's mother and my good friend, Alisa, and I ran with this, and started to prepare the boys to go on the road with their talents (neighborhood and ward) .  Mark was still taking piano and seemed to really be liking it.  The boys were eleven when we decided they would play, "As I have Loved You" as a trio with Drake and Matthew at the violin, and Mark accompanying them on the piano.

It took a lot of work, bribery, and threats to get them to be able to perform this one number.  I would not have called any one of them gifted by any means,  but we were determined that our three cute boys would perform it well.  Many nights were spent trying to get them in sync with each other.  Mark would play away in his own little world while Drake scratched his nose, and Matthew stared away into the distance (he is his mother's son).  The practice sessions were further hindered by the presence of our large cat, Marty. As soon as the trio would commence, he would creep, usually unnoticed , into the living room where his apparent  hatred of the combination of strings and piano would drive him to attack the innocent musician.  Usually it was the violinist, but occasionally he would even claw the unsuspecting pianist.  Alisa and I were concentrating on each note being played correctly,  and the sudden yelp of the victim would startle us into seeing the cat sink its' sharp claws whatever body part he could reach.  We never knew where he was, and we would banish him when the first altercation occurred, but when the next practice session began, the cat was lying in wait.  One would think it would affect the practicing, but either the boys secretly got a kick out of making Marty crazy, or we just got caught up in the music....either way, I think it heightened the dynamics.  The boys played their number beautifully and we couldn't have been prouder.

The boys have been out on their mission over a year now, and Mark and Matthew have played the piano.  Matthew's mission president  asked us to send his violin out to Ohio, and he has enjoyed playing at conferences and meetings.  Drake, of course, is in Russia and doesn't get the opportunity as much.  We miss the boys and their music.  They got to the point where they could "jam" together and create neat arrangements.  Gone was the day when Alisa and I begged for "just one more time through".  They would practice on their own!

In December, Drake's younger brother, Ted was asked to play at a Relief Society program.  He came over with his mom and pulled out his violin.  Alisa and I got a little emotional over the fact that the boys were gone, and here was little Ted taking up the reins.   Umm....and then, in came the cat.  We had quite forgotten how much Marty despised the violin. We got pretty excited and begged Ted to let us take pictures to send to the missionaries.  Ted was very courageous, and played away , full knowing that he was about to be attacked by a cat who hadn't had his claws nipped in some time.  I played the piano.......
Ted is anticipating "the Attack"

The "Look"

"You know I despise violin music!"

Ted is not too wounded and keeps playing
Marty has abandoned the cause

 ...... while Ted took up his bow, and Alisa snapped pictures of the perpetrator.  Mingled with our laughter was the awareness that time passes all too quickly, and the little boys who groaned and fought us with each practice session were far away.  We never thought we'd get the musical numbers completed , let alone see three small boys grow into manhood.  It was very bittersweet, and I know that both Alisa and I felt our heartstrings ping just a little, even as Ted made his violin strings sing with the strains of a Christmas melody.   Music soothes the soul, and I am so glad the boys are able to uplift others with their talents.  Alisa...I think we will have to demand a violin/piano trio next February when they come home...including Martycat!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cherry Blossoms

I have always wished for wisdom, inspiration and courage.  I find myself often worrying about the future, and neglecting to enjoy the moments.  At this stage of my life with four kids in the mission field and three others married and on their own, I am bewildered at how quickly my life has passed.  I feel like Jacob in the Book of Mormon where he says "our lives passed away as if it were unto a dream".  Every day passes more quickly than the day before, and I , being the incessant worrier that I am, wonder that I have not done all that I should have....and am running out of time!
And then, a sweet knowledge of the Gospel dulls that other worry and reminds me that we have time. That this life will continue unto the next and become eternity because of the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.  He has a future for us, and we shall know the fulness of it in the hereafter.  If we are faithful, if we persevere, if we embrace all that life has to offer....we will be brought into His presence and crowned with glory, immortality and eternal life.  

I find myself having to cultivate new hope every day!   There are so many pitfalls in mortality.  I do not pretend to know and understand some of the deep sorrows that come to many in this life.  I find myself often unable to watch the news because I anguish over the trials that some must face. 

My faith tells me that all will be rectified, and that we will come to understand the winds of adversity. Even so, sometimes it is the small things in life that cause me worry and self-doubt. 
 I admit that I fall short in my daily commitments to be better, to be stronger , to accomplish more!  Elizabeth Edwards (love her writing) said that she hoped her children remembered that when" she stood in the storm, and the  wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.  

I talked to my friend Laurie who is very blunt in her perspective on life and its' joys and sorrows.  She asks me all the time "why do you worry? concentrate on what is good!"  "live in the moment!"  I told her about my little cherry tree and how I worried that the wind would come and blow away the blossoms before I had a chance to enjoy them.  (don't know why that came up)  She said, "Go outside and look at it now...enjoy it tonight in case they do blow away tomorrow!" I thought about that.  I thought about that fact that every Spring the blossoms appear.  I don't have to do anything; they just show up one random day every April.  They might blow away before their time to fall, and inevitably they do just that...because that is what they are supposed to do!  The tree grows leaves, and then in the fall they change to brilliant colors, shrivel and fall to the ground.   But there is always a Spring!! I will see blossoms again!

How grateful I am for the Springs in my life.  Even though I may have allowed weaknesses to develop in my character and made poor choices, there is always a redemptive power.  Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I can always be grateful for the season of Spring and the rebirth of the world around us.  We can also be grateful for the winters of our lives and be honed and refined when adversity comes to us.  

What a wonderful Easter spent with family and contemplating the blessings of my life.  I am so proud of four kids who are testifying of Christ in the mission field. I cannot even comprehend the magnitude of the Atonement, but I know that because of His perfect love for me, I shall be able to surmount the storms in my life.