Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Music - Language of the Heart

This semester has been the most music-less of my life. And oh, how I have missed it!

Growing up, we were pretty much "required" to take some kind of music lessons every year from around age 6 and upwards. I didn't mind - I enjoyed music and often took 2 or 3 different types at a time! I started with violin at age 6, and played for a few years. I even played in a very small homeschool ensemble, playing first the recorder, and then the violin. The Suzuki method worked well in teaching me to play, but not in learning to read notes on a page. I was taught using numbers and colors, and when I got a new teacher and she tried to get me to read notes, I got discouraged and stopped. Looking back I wish I would have stuck with it, but in stopping I got to experience a new instrument: the piano!

I began piano lessons when I was 9 - 10, taking from a fun lady at our church. I really enjoyed playing the piano, and learned basic theory and how to actually read the written musical notes, which set the foundation for the years ahead. After a year, however, my teacher moved away, and switching to a new teacher was again really hard. I didn't enjoy it as much, and after half a year, or perhaps more (I can't remember!) decided to stop and play the flute instead.

My siblings had been in the homeschool band for a few years, but at the time I was interested in violin or piano, two things that you couldn't exactly play in the band. The fall after my 12th birthday, I decided to play the flute. I'd heard that my good friend Miriam was going to start band that year as well, playing the flute, and I personally thought it the prettiest instrument in the band. Though my reasons for starting weren't the strongest, I soon grew to enjoy the flute more than any other instrument before. I took lessons as I began the beginning band, and by January had moved up to the intermediate level. The next fall, we got a new band teacher - this time a flute player herself! - and she taught me so much about the flute, correcting many lazy habits I didn't know that I had. I played in the intermediate and advanced band for a while, and then moved into the advanced band, where I played for the next 5 years. I had so much fun and learned so much, even taking flute lessons from our band teacher during a few of the summers. Part of what I enjoyed so much about the instrument, I suppose, was being able to play with my friend Miriam Rebekah. We played many duets over the years, and even took double private lessons in the summer. She helped encourage me to learn to play by ear, and the last two-three years of high school I enjoyed accompanying worship, at home church meetings, or at the Anglican church we attended.

The last year of high school was the most musical of them all, and I really enjoyed it. Because of a change in band directors, the band got smaller and the music wasn't as challenging to play, which was a disappointment. However, I had other things to practice as well that year, taking piano and voice lessons. My great enjoyment for the piano was rediscovered, and I continued lessons during the summer. I enjoyed voice as well; I had sung in a homeschool choir the year before, and taking private lessons helped me become more confident in singing out strong, though I'm no amazing vocalist!

This semester, I didn't have time for any music lessons or groups, and I've really missed them. With 19 credit hours of other classes, I didn't think I'd have time for music, so I decided to put it off a semester. I continued playing on my roommate's keyboard whenever I had the time, and sitting down and playing hymns or pieces I'd learned really helped soothe and relax me during times of busyness. Music is truly a language of itself, one that flows out from the heart.

As I've adjusted to classes and the college routine, I've figured out that I probably would have had time for at least orchestra, so as I pre-registered for spring classes, I decided to email the director of the orchestra and see what I needed to do to join. To my delight, he said I'd be able to audition and join after the orchestra's concert on November 4th, as they'd then immediately start preparing for their February concert. To tell the truth, I hadn't played my flute at all since arriving to college (yes, I blame busyness, though I probably could have made time) but I was excited to have a reason to again!. In excitement and preparation for the audition, I've practiced on Saturday, Monday, and today, and the exhilaration of playing again has made me quite joyful. I'm so enjoying to playing flute regularly again, and am looking forward to experiencing what an orchestra is like. I audition on November 7th, so prayer that it goes well is appreciated! I'm also seriously looking into taking private piano lessons next semester if I can work things out. We'll see how God leads.

It's really hard sometimes, when I so enjoy dancing, acting, and so much of the music world, to know what to focus on the most. I enjoy all of them, but they all take a lot of time. I don't have the answers yet, and I don't know if and what God will lead me to study and practice more than the others, but I do know that I'm very excited to get back into music.

Practicing can get to be a chore sometimes, but oftentimes it is more of a relaxation. With so many things to do, papers to write, and tests to study for, making music with an instrument or your voice often helps to relieve stress. Melody or harmony, adagio or allegro, music speaks to the soul. I'm ever so thankful that God made music, and it is my prayer that I play for His glory.

Are there other musicians out there? I know that there are! =) I'd enjoy it if you would comment and share what instrument you play!


Mamselle Clare Duroc said...

Music is somewhat of a passion of mine.

My chief instrument is the violin. I've been taking lesson for four? five? years now. My second instrument is the classical guitar. My grandfather, mother, and older brother play, so I couldn't resist taking it up myself. I play a little piano, self-taught... it's a useful instrument to be able to play, and of course beautiful as well! I took a few organ lessons one summer, but never found the time to study it seriously.

I've always considered my voice to be my primary instrument, though. Unfortunately I've never taken lessons, but I've tagged after my singer friends and picked up some tips and advice, and I've learned a good deal just by listening and imitating. I spent about three years singing for two churches, which would have been more enjoyable if the music selections had been better.

If I can ever find the time to learn some more instruments, I would love to get familiar with the clarinet and the sax... such beautiful instruments!

Katherine Estes said...

yes, i play the piano and i love it!!

Lexie said...

I know what you mean Anna I have never been musically talented at all and I'm itching to learn to play the violin which I think I'm going to fulfill this summer.

Kasie said...

I hardly EVER comment, but I couldn't resist this one. :-) Music has always been a huge part of my family, we're all musical and play instruments. I play the piano, violin, mandolin, and tin whistle (I like to sing too!).

Music is a wonderful way to worship the Lord with, and He has been opening up the door for my family in amazing ways this year. I just pray that He will get the glory in everything!

Thanks for the great post! :-)

Alicia said...

I play both piano and violin. Sounds as if you have a wide range of experience with instruments!

Maiden Meghan said...

I've played the piano on and off for about....eight-seven years. Lately I've found I can borrow music books from the library and teach myself to play the melodies of some of my favorite songs and just add in some blocked chords. It's great! Playing hymns is a passion of mine and I love picking through my hymnal and finding what hymns I know. Wow, that was a long comment. :) Great topic to post on!

Lydia said...

I'm glad you are able to start up music again! I have really enjoyed taking violin lessons here at TFC, even if it is only a 30 minute lesson. You are right, music is a good stress reliever and a joy!

Scott Family said...

I play piano. I love it! A few weeks ago I had the privilege of playing the prelude at church. :o)

Lily :o)

Luke and Michele said...

I grew up playing the piano and taking lessons from 2nd grade-10th grade. In 6th grade I learned how to play the clarinet and in 8th grade I learned how to play the oboe. I played both instruments throughout jr. high and highschool. In highschool I was in the marching band and played the clarinet. When that was over (only lasted as long as the football season) I played the oboe in concert band. I also played the oboe in a jr. philharmonic. In college I didn't play any instrument. It was all I could to keep up with my studies without having something extra to practice. But after Luke and I were married and moved to LR, AR I played the oboe in our church orchestra and took piano lessons again for about a year.
But now my plate is full of caring for children, a husband and a house. I hope to someday to get back to one or all of the instruments and to have my children learn an instrument as well.

Ella said...

The piano is my instrument and I love it!!! I took lessons up until this year, though I changed teachers about five times. My last one was the best I have ever had. She taught me what it was like to LOVE playing....and all for God's glory too.

For a time, I did flute. Actually, it was only for a few months until we pulled out of private school (and the flute went right along with it.) I didn't mind. I started out with the clarinet in band, but when all the girls seemed to be moving over to the flute, I did too. I chose not to remember that I couldn't play it at all!

Yes, music is so good for the soul. Actually, music is one of my chief ways to express my feelings to the Lord.

J said...

Hi Anna! i found your blog from the rebelution website and as a pianist (hoping to become a good violinist ;) ), i enjoyed your post! it was very timely cause i'm actually in the middle of writing a college admission essay defeding the idea that music is an essential part of life. thanks for the post!

Allison said...

I play the piano (and teach). I played the clarinet in band for 3 years, but rarely play anymore.

Anonymous said...

I've played the piano since I was 4or 5 (I'm 17 now), and I started playing the harp 3 years ago. I used to take violin lessons, but it never really "stuck" for me, so I went on to the harp, and I love it!

Rebecca said...

I play the piano and the violin. Both are so much fun!
More recently, I've played "fiddle" type stuff on my violin with a family from our church. They have their own bluegrass band, but no fiddle, so I stepped in with my instrument . . . which is a lot nicer than a "fiddle" but it works!
My sisters and I also play violin with the hymns at church. It's becomeing sort of an orchestra and it's a lot of fun.

Sorry for the long comment! I am a BIG talker.

Anonymous said...

I had a slight advantage over you when I started violin! At nine, I had already had some piano and understood notes and basic theory. So I had no trouble reading notes when I got to book two.

I have taken some piano over the years, but have never learned enough to be good at it. One of these years I would love to take some lessons. And then there's organ...


Sheila said...

I totally hear you! I am rather a musician myself (flute, piano, voice), and I don't know how long I could go without it. Very brave of you!

It certainly is a language in itself. An amazing language that our Creator has designed!


Becky said...

Music is a love of mine, as well.

I play piano, guitar(electric and acoustic), bass guitar, and did play the flute for a little while in elementary school. I soooo wish I had stuck with the flute for longer, and wouldn't even know where to begin to get back into it!

Anonymous said...

I've been playing the piano since I was in second grade, but when I switched to public school, I stopped lessons, but not playing! At my tiny public school, I learned to play the clarinet and bass clarinet. I'm in High School now, I still play them.

Learning the piano has come in handy--I can now sight-sing music, have an easy time in my music Theory class, and there's always a need for a pianist at church plays!