Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Piano Man

Piano. I can definitely say that this is one of the joys of my life. The Lord has blessed me with an ability to play the musical instrument of the piano, and I am most certainly grateful. I'm not any prodigy or anything like that, but I really just love playing piano. Learning new songs are always fun and encouraging,, especially when you complete one, and you light up someone else's face when you play it for them. The idea of "going out" consisting of going to my church to play the piano there to be alone where it's quiet may not sound too appetizing,, but I find myself, quite often taking that five minute trip down to the church to just unravel and play the instrument. I have found this to be very enjoyable as it brings relief from noise, and also allows for experimental playing that may sometimes sound horrendous (okay, on second though.. most of the time it does). But either way, I still receive enjoyment from it and I hope that fervor will never go away.
It all started back when I was five years old. Piano was one of those things (at least things that had more substance than food, movies and toys(the normal toddler "things")) I was first introduced to as a toddler(or, young man as I like to think it) other than God and a new house. I don't remember too much of the early days, but my mom has a recording of me doing a "special music" in my church by playing "Jesus Loves Me" with just my index finger. So humorous to watch, but also very encouraging knowing that you're not still playing piano with just your index finger. I can guarantee that I wouldn't be taking trips down to my church to play piano for hours with just my one finger! Man that would be so much fun!! ;) But anyway, after about one year of general starter lessons from my mother, I started official lessons with a local friend of my mother's. I took about two years from her, and unfortunately I don't ever remember lessons from her. Well,, I take that back.. I do remember one instance where I had to call her and cancel a piano lesson... (but that's irrelevant). But after doing those two years of lessons with her(I don't even remember her name... how bad is that?!), I took lessons from a man named Mr. Westbrook. He was a very enjoyable person, and I always loved it when he came to our house for lessons. Giving smiles and giving stickers were two valid things I remember about Mr. Westbrook. That was something I always loved, was when I would complete a song, he had a "Ginormous!" (so as I thought at the time) sticker book that had the coolest stickers. And I vividly remember my favorite sticker which was a grasshopper sticker. Don't ask me why, I was just intrigued with that sticker. To this day, you can still find that sticker plastered throughout my old piano books. :) How's that a memory for ya? And then, last but not least, my final and piano teacher who I started with next and still to this day take from. Mrs. Mclaren is her name, and I can only describe this lady in one word... "Phenomenal." Teaching piano is pretty much her life,, no joke. She has around 50 students I believe... which is a lot! I'm very fortunate to be one of them. She isn't what you expect though. Not the standard, metiochre piano teacher who has you come to their "practice location" and they watch the clock until your "half hour" is up, then you leave(okay, slightly hyperbolized, but trying to prove a significant distinction here). Nope, but this lady loves piano so much, and it's so much a part of her life that making you a better piano player is her main goal. You could go 20 minutes over your allotted time, and she wouldn't know because she will be so fixed on making sure you learn something, or "get" something you're having trouble with. Pretty strict, but an excellent teacher. When I had that transition between Mr. Westbrook and Mrs. Mclaren was definitely a rude awakening! For quite some time I had gotten used to the style Mr. Westbrook had given of just kind of the easy route, and "enjoy it through simpleness." Well my first lesson I had with Mrs. Mclaren, I distinctly remember crying because of the style transition and how strict she was. I think I ended up crying for a few other lessons over the next year, but it was all for my own good. I could tell she had been through the crying stuff before, because it hardly phased her one bit. Oh well,, either way, I am proud to admit that I don't cry during lessons anymore. ;) But ever since that first tearful lesson, I have really come to appreciate her as a teacher. I can say it again, but "excellent" is quite a fitting description.
Looking back over it all though, I am truly thankful for so much. The fact that my mom and dad put me in piano at such a young age, and paid for every single one of my lessons over every year since then! Or the fact that I received, and still receive excellent teaching. But my most appreciation goes to my my Lord and Savior for blessing me with the ability to play and sincerely enjoy it. Going from playing my very first song on the piano of two simple notes that I would play back and forth with one finger, then silently be applauded by my teacher, to playing in a concert, or for a competition followed by the thunderous applaud of five hundred to a thousand people is such an encouragement and at the least, a huge eye opener to how sovereign and loving my God is. He has blessed me with 4 fantastic wins in a competition called Talents For Christ and another hosted by a local club. He has also blessed me with tremendous ministry opportunities as in accompanying for my church, playing for a school choir, playing for a worship team, or more. Now I really hope this does not in any way come across as a "brag note" on my part. This is sincerely just a way of reminiscing and thanking my God and parents for everything along the way. I don't plan on giving up anytime soon either. I won't expect to be making headlines and ending up on the music cd shelves along the way, but I certainly plan to enjoy what I have been given and use it for God's glory.


Lynnette Kraft said...

What a wonderful gift that you've been given. As the mother of a pianist, I can totally appreciate the piano - and the pianist.

I think it's wonderful that you acknowledge it as a gift from your Creator. No wonder you've been able to go so far with it - you give God the glory!

Keep playing and blessing others with your music! Hopefully you and Jared will be able to hear each other play one day.

Mrs. Kraft

Josh said...

Hey Ben,
I am a pianist also, though perhaps not as accomplished as you! For years, I have taken piano lessons, but recently the Lord has given me new inspiration to learn to the best of my ability...Regarding your rude awakening when you switched teachers, I know EXACTLY how you felt! That was me the last time i got a new teacher...WOW!

God Bless you as you continue to use your gifts to serve the King.
BTW, thank you for following my blog and leaving the comment for me. I look forward to knowing you better ;)
In Christn Alone,

Linda said...

I am Linda, a friend of your mom from her blog. I am so glad she posted about you and led us over here to your blog. I enjoyed reading several posts.

I am Mrs. Kraft's mom...Jared Kraft's grandma (:>) I love to listen to Jared play the piano and I am so proud of his accomplishments. And I know your mom and family are proud of you.

Jared has put in a lot of hard work to get where he is today...and so have you. And it is definitely worth it you have alluded to.

I always wanted to learn to play the piano, and to take lessons but I never did. I just plunk around on it and play a few simple pieces by ear...but it does bring me enjoyment. (:>)

I loved what you wrote about your family. I think it is wonderful to treasure what God has given you.

Someday September is planning to come here to Kansas for a visit. maybe your whole family will come and we will have the priviledge of meeting you and hearing you play the piano! You and Jared would get along great I'm sure. He is 19years old, and sounds alot like you.

Keep living for the is such a blessing to meet you here in blogland.

Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

Abigail Kraft said...

Hey Ben,
Loved this post! I can definitely identify. I started playing violin when I was 11, but I didn't really start loving it until this last year (when I started orchestra). Now, I find myself thinking about it all the time, and my greatest desire is to be able to use that for the glory of God.

Keep up the good work. :)

P.S. The orchestra piece we're playing is Capriccio Espagnol by Rimsky-Korsakov. It's actually growing on me a little--the movement called "Alborado" is a little too bombastic for my taste, but I like the rest. :P


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