Sunday, June 12, 2011

Big Performance

Last night was my big performance at the assembly hall--my family was really excited.  For it to be over.  Eva put it succinctly when she said, "Finally!"  The whole thing turned into a much bigger project than I ever would have imagined and I had a few 4+ hour practices as well as my practicing at home, attempting to write modulations, key changes, and accompianments.  Most of this was well over my head and I was clearly out of my league.  The soloist has a beautiful soprano voice and is a fabulous performer but I think she would do better with a pianist who could play by ear--it would be a better fit for her, I think. 

BUT I had a great time--especially last night!  By that time it was clear there was nothing I could "do over" or "do better" so I decided on the drive in to Salt Lake that I was just going to enjoy myself and enjoy the assembly hall and enjoy being with the friends I had made during the project.  And I did just that!  The assembly hall is a beautiful building!!  As a performer, I not only got to be on the stage but I got to go behind the stage and see the green room, and the halls and doorways leading to the upstairs seating, main floor seating, and the stage.  Every door was only about 6' or so--much shorter than what we're used to, anyway, and each had a beautiful doorknob with the beehive symbol on it.  The green rooms had beautiful antique looking upholstered seating and cabinets (with the fancy doorknobs) that opened to a mirror with a string of lights to check hair and make-up.  We also got to go downstairs where there was a classroom and a piano for extra last minute practicing, teaching, etc.  I'm not sure what they use it for.  One of the people in charge (there were two couples--missionaries) took us downstairs to see the rooms where Richard Elliot and the other organists work.  The three organists each have their own room and in each room is a full pipe organ and grand piano.  One of the rooms also had a harpsichord.  We also saw the tunnel that leads from the Assembly Hall to all the other tunnels under Temple Square.  The couples that work with the performers are excellent--so nice and friendly!  I want their job someday!!

I got to play on a 9 foot Steinway grand piano.  It was a huge instrument and I was relieved when they said they didn't think we needed the lid open!  The piano was so easy to play--it was easier than I ever would have thought to play notes softly and it was also very easy to play a nice tone.  The instrument was beautifully balanced, which in rehearsal took me a little while to get accustomed to.  I decided that if I had something like that to practice on I would likely want to practice all the time!  It was easier (than any piano I get to play on) to make the music sound "right" on that piano.   

The performance went well--for me, it was the best I'd played the full set of music in one sitting, but there was definitely still room for improvement.  Still, I was happy with it, knowing I did my best with the time I had and the challenges thrown at me.  For this performance, it would have been less stressful for me if I had been pursuing my personal music more aggressively through the years.  Sometimes I have wondered if I regretted letting some of the skills go.  I have had people ask me if I regret not getting my music degree.   I can honestly say I only regretted it last night and at rehearsals for this project.  Even then I didn't really feel "regret" as much as I felt inadequate.  Mostly, I felt a little as Eva did, that I would be glad to finish this project and get back to what I really love doing now--being a mom and taking care of my family and helping them develop their talents.  The degree I did get in college has been immeasurably valuable to me in being a mother, especially a mother to Nathan.  I know that if I did not have my BSW I would not have been able to fight for and help Nathan as effectively as I have.  It was fun to meet a couple of other women who have aggressively pursued their musical talents through the years--it was neat to see and hear where their musical talents have taken them and what they've been able to accomplish. 

I was excited that Lisa showed up to the performance.  I was a little disappointed that no one in my family (Vince and kids--my other family is too far away, of course) would be able to come and it was a special surprise when we were finished to see Lisa walking my way--she stayed with me the rest of the night and then we talked after.  I love having a sister so close and being able to talk with her about things like this!  She also helped me try to configure modulations and taught me some theory--thanks Lisa for being such a support!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Embarrassing Kids

My kids are often embarrassing--but not as much as they used to be when they would run yelling through the chapel at church or make "pee" soup outside get the idea.  Lately, though, I find that my kids are more often than not embarrassed by ME!  I have no idea why, exactly, but I've been hearing lately that I should not embarrass them.  Which of course makes me want to...

Then I read about a dad who waved at his son's bus every morning of the boy's sophomore year of high school:  It's hilarious.  At least I think so--the kids, even Ivy--not so much.  There's a blog with pictures of what this dad wore each morning as he waved to the bus:  Eva wouldn't even look at the pictures! 

So far the kids have told me NEVER to do something like this! 

I can't get it out of my head that I need to "step up to the plate" somehow--I'm loving what this dad did!!  Eva suggested I ask you for ideas on how to properly embarrass her.  Well, not really.  What she said, when I read this post out loud was, "What are you gonna do, ask people for ideas?"  And she didn't seem thrilled about it.  I, however, think it's a great idea!! 

What ideas do you have?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Last week my grandmother passed away.  I've been praying for her for a few years that Heavenly Father would take her home--I wasn't sure what life could mean to a person who couldn't hear, see, use the left side of her body, and was in constant pain.  I felt grateful that she could graduate from this mortal existence and greet her 2 husbands, 13 siblings, parents, and other family and friends who were probably waiting for her for such a long time.  I often wondered how grandma could stand to say good-bye to so many people.  For as long as I can remember grandma seemed to be losing friends and family to the cemetary she frequented.  I remember President Hinckley once saying that he felt like the last leaf on a tree and that the wind was blowing--I immediately thought of my grandmother.  This past week, though, I have to admit that I am going to miss her.  I've been trying to put my finger on what it was exactly that made grandma special to me. 

I have had one thought--when I was with my grandmother time stood still.  I don't know how she did it.  Every memory I have of being in her home at every age and stage in my life--when I went to grandma's house time stopped.  It was a bit like being in the temple.  Of course grandma had a clock and things to do but somehow she did everything she needed to do but never seemed rushed.  She had a way of turning ordinary events into adventures.  She would take us out to the dairy to get milk--I used to love that!  I was fascinated by the way the cows were milked and how we could just take our gallon jar to this big tank and fill it with milk.  I hated the milk--still do hate whole milk--but I loved going to the dairy with grandma.  I didn't even mind the smell.  Grandma would drive fast over the little hills, giving us that breathless feeling in our stomachs.  She would let us ride with the windows rolled down and let us put our arms out--sometimes it just feels good to feel the wind in your hair.  I remember when I was young she had a large garden and I can remember weeding and harvesting with her.  I hate gardening but I think I could like it if I could do it next to grandma.  I don't know why it was different with her, but I do know she was never demanding.  Somehow she could get me to work and make me feel good about every little thing I did without making me feel patronized.  I remember that she would often build a burn pile while working in the yard and when the work was finished we would have a "wienie roast".  I always thought it was funny that she called it that. 

Grandma was a child of the first Depression and life was always hard for her.  She was widowed twice, and made a living out of frugality.  She grew up one of the youngest children, where she would take care of animals, fields, and her ailing parents.  She nursed 3 people in their last years of life: her mother, and both husbands.  From her childhood, she worked and served, and worked some more.  This weekend the neighbors said that a couple of years ago, after her stroke, grandma could no longer stand or even sit to work on her lawn but she was accustomed to digging the crab grass out of her lawn and they caught her laying on the lawn to dig the crab grass out.  Nothing came easy for her--I believe that grandma put that kind of effort into everything and everybody she ever cared about.  I believe that given the choice about her circumstances that she wouldn't have changed anything, that she was grateful that her life was simple and that she had the opportunity to serve and love in ways that many of us never experience.  Truthfully, she made her life simple.  She knew her role and loved it.

Grandma made a career out of motherhood.  She loved family--they always came first in her life.  She was completely selfless and included all kinds of extended relations in her family.  She was the last daughter of her parents to pass away and she maintained contact established strong, loving relationships with all her nieces and nephews--there were soooo many--and they all loved their Aunt Pearl.  (As did their children and grandchildren.)  I believe that she was in some sense a mother to all of them, each in a different way.  Somehow she knew, or never forgot, what it was like to be a child.  She intuitively knew how children felt and how to make them feel important and loved.  I believe she counted anyone younger than her to be one of her children in a way.  Since she knew and loved children so well, I think she had a unique knowledge of their mothers.  As a young mother, there were times grandma would say just the thing to bring me comfort when I was worried about them and then there was my favorite quote, usually uttered when the kids were rowdy inside, or wanting to play with grandma's things: "Oh, just let them be kids!" And then she would grab the nearest one and give them a tight squeeze and a big kiss or two on the cheek. 

I admire and love her example of motherhood and I was grateful for one last weekend in her presence.  I think I want to evaluate and learn how I could make my own home more "timeless" and a place of refuge as hers was.  And when I think of grandma I will always want to hold my own a little closer and give them a big kiss on the cheek.

This past weekend was a wonderful exchange of memories and love--where time again seemed to stop in honor of grandma.