I played a couple of months ago for Sacrament. And shortly after that the Choir Director asked if I would accompany the YM/YW for Mother's Day. Here's what they're singing...
It's funny the way things in life come back around. And how things come back into your memory when you least expect them to. (That's another post currently in the works. Hopefully it'll come together soon!)
When I was a brand new member of the Church in 1994, and newly married, the ward we were in was like the safe, comfortable NEST where I could test out my wings before learning how to fly. (I don't think I realized that until recently, though.)
Having been in several wards since then, I have come to realize that the Alpharetta ward in 1994 was a complete anomaly. My father-in-law was the Bishop. My first Visiting Teaching companion became one of my very best friends. Our first babies were born within 6 months of each other (her baby just got his Learner's Permit today...YIKES!!) We had a group of friends who were all newly married and living in the same apartment complex with us. They went with me to Temple Prep classes and then attended the Atlanta Temple with me when I went for the first time.
The Relief Society President was a woman named Kathy Edelman who was also an extraordinary organist. She knew that I needed to do something in the ward, but that I was extremely new at the whole "serving thing" and lacked confidence. When she found out that I had a little bit of a music background, she asked my father-in-law to call me as the Music Minutes director. (I think they made up that calling for me, because I haven't seen it since.) I wasn't the chorister. There was already one of those. I had exactly 5 minutes every Sunday between the RS announcements and the lesson, to teach the sisters something about music. Not a hymn. Not a church history something. A MUSIC lesson. I felt completely inadequate in that calling. I was qualified to teach music to CHILDREN, not to adults who probably had ten times the musical knowledge and ability that I did. But the sisters were all warm and friendly and smiled at me every week, so I kept coming back.
Eventually Kathy realized that I could play the piano and asked me to HELP HER with a song she was doing with the youth. (The same song I'm playing for our youth right now.) When someone amazing makes you feel like they can't do something without you, you tend to jump at the opportunity. I was thrilled to have the chance to work with Kathy. She was directing the song, so she asked me to be her accompanist. I hadn't played publicly or accompanied anyone since high school. I practiced and practiced and practiced the heck out of that thing until I could (almost) play it for the first rehearsal. Kathy was infinitely patient with me. At any time, she could have booted me off of that piano and played it herself without much effort. But she never did that...and we all kept practicing the song. And because I knew that KATHY THOUGHT I could play this song...I made sure that I could. I have no recollection of walking up to the piano on the day the kids performed. I just remember that my hands shook. My legs shook. I'm sure the piano was actually shaking, too. And I made several mistakes. But I DID IT!!
Since then I have accompanied for many, many people. I've been a Primary pianist, a RS pianist, a substitute chorister (for several months), the ward choir director, and most recently the ward organist! My hands and legs don't shake anymore when I play. I can play all the hymns and primary songs without requiring any advance notice. What used to be extremely difficult for me has become one of my greatest strengths.
There has been a "Kathy Edelman" in each of the wards we've lived in since leaving Atlanta. Kalleen Halvorsen in Seattle. Paula Watkins in Mendon. Beverly Futrell in Mendon. Donna Varela in Allen. I have had the opportunity to sit beside some great women who were willing to let me soak up a little of their amazing talent and ability. But more than just their musical ability, each of them has had the gift to see potential in me that I couldn't see myself. Each time, they pushed me to be better than I thought I could be. They picked the harder music. They asked me to try things that I would never have considered. And each time, because THEY THOUGHT I could do something, I MADE MYSELF do it.
I'm so grateful for talented people who can see that potential in others. I'm grateful for piano lessons when I was a little girl. I'm grateful for the opportunity that I have to play often as an adult. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude when I watch my daughter sitting next to her own "Kathy Edelman," and look forward with great anticipation to the potential that is being unlocked within her.