Friday, February 18, 2011

Almost a Nightmare

I originally recorded this experience as a guest post on Notes About Music Notes last Fall. I am currently practicing for another musical number with my daughter and each time I sit at the keyboard I relive this memory. I thought it was time to post it on my own blog.

I was nervous. I’m always nervous when I play the piano in public despite numerous occasions to do so. This musical number needed to be perfect. My daughter (a flute performance major and talented musician) was playing “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” during a Sacrament Meeting and I was her accompanist. It is my mother’s favorite hymn and we were playing it for HER prior to her leaving on an LDS mission to Germany.

I wanted the piece to be flawless—no jarring moments from my anxious fingers. Just let me be the beautiful background music that no one notices, I prayed. The piece was difficult and I felt fairly confident with it. BUT, I also knew that nerves could wreck havoc.

The pages were photocopied and spread out across the music stand. The flute began. The piano followed. “I can do this,” I thought as the music flowed through several stanzas. Gorgeous.

Enter The Nightmare:  without warning my last two pages flew off the piano and onto the floor!

Oh No!


“Stay focused,” I told myself as I pleaded internally for assistance. The bishopric and flutist, whose backs were towards me, were oblivious to my plight.


I turned my head briefly towards the congregation with a look of quiet desperation—begging for someone to read my mind.

What was I going to do? I did NOT have the piece memorized. Would I just have to stop and pick the music up then join in again? Could we start over? But then, the spirit of the piece would be lost forever.

Focus. Stay focused. Keep playing. Closer and closer we edged towards the notes on the missing pages.

Nightmare Diverted:  An attentive gentleman stood up and swiftly made his way to the front.

I was saved!

He picked up my pages, placed them carefully back on the piano and sat close until the piece was finished.

“Thank you,” I breathed quietly with utter relief.

Lessons learned:
  • Don’t be afraid to be THE ONE who takes action. Don’t think someone else will do it. Just do it!
  • Always back pages on cardstock to waylay errant breezes.
  • Be grateful for tender mercies and kind souls.


    Grammy T. said...

    I love this story and example of faith. Wow!!! :)

    Shannon said...

    Yes, I would have freaked out. Thank heavens for attentive, helpful people. Great lessons learned!

    Lesa said...

    Julie - Now I'm reliving the memory with you :)

    I'm glad you posted this on your blog and thanks for the link to my blog.

    It took me about 30 years of playing to learn to tape the pages together. I've had too many near misses with the pages almost flying off.

    I hope your practicing is going well. What are you practicing for? and what song?

    to your readers: I love to meet new bloggers so I hope some will hop on over. Let me know you stopped by and if you would like to write a guest post about music, I'd love to have you. (not to steal Julie's comment section here or anything :/)


    AllisonK said...

    What a great story! As I read that the last two pages had fallen my heart started to beat as it's a great fear I have when playing.
    Glad it all ended well.

    Valerie said...

    I would have panicked! So nice that someone saved you in your time of need. :)

    Ailinh Harris said...

    I would totally have had a panick attack. Thanks so much for sharing this. I really enjoyed it and it's something to definitely keep in mind. It's kinda like in one of my health courses in college when we learned of three different kinds of people when it came to emergencies. There are those who:
    1. take the initiative to act rather than to be acted upon (aka saving someone's life)
    2. run away from or ignore the problem.
    3. are bystanders. They remain still and look on waiting for someone else to help.

    Funny how you mention this story and the piece performed is "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief". There's kinda like a connection there. :)

    Dean and Sheri said...

    Wonderful story. Thank you for sharing with everyone. Thank Heaven for the "hero" who was not afraid to act. Thank the Lord for "tender mercies". These are all valuable lessons to remember. inspire.

    Dixie Mom said...

    I'm so amazed that anyone can get up there and play in sacrament at all! I can't believe that happened to you! I promise...THAT will never happen again!!

    Mom to Many said...

    Whew! Tender mercy!
    I am so glad he noticed your plight. :o)

    Garden of Egan said...

    Oh my heck! I was hyperventilating while I was reading this!!!!!
    I don't play the piano, but you described your panic so perfectly I was nearly screaming before the gentleman came to the rescue!

    Whew, I'm ok now.

    I love that song.
    I'm so glad it went well.
    I'm so glad that someone wasn't afraid to do what needed to be done.

    Marvett Smith said...

    First of all I must say, I love the image at the top of this post! Did you do this? It's amazing! Second, I would love to hear you play. My daughter plays and I love it. I always wanted to play growing up, but we didn't have a piano and my mom felt like there was no point if I had no where to practice. I can't imagine how you felt when those pages went missing. I'm so glad that kindness saved you!
    P.S.- I love your blog. I will be checking back soon!

    Marianne said...

    AARRRGGHH!! I almost had a heart attack reading this!! Thank goodness for someone paying attention to the accompanist (which we all secretly hope no one really is, right??)

    That happened to my mom once, except she MEANT to throw the pages on the floor--it was a quick, QUICK page turn, and the way she planned it, she just pushed the used pages to the side(and off the piano). Well, a helpful and attentive fellow rushed to her aid and put the pages back up on the piano. Except that she didn't need them or want them there!! She learned a lesson that day, too...never throw your music on the floor. Someone might be paying attention and think you need help!! :-)

    2busy said...

    Precisely why I don't play in public. Well, that and I suck.

    Lara said...

    You know, I think most people don't even notice the pianist! I have had the same thing happen to me before, and I have seen it happen to others and jumped up to help.

    Hopefully there will always be someone there to help you if it happens again!

    Lacy said...

    This is a great story :) I cannot imagine what I would do... I hope I can pay attention and help out when people need it. That man was an answer to your prayers.

    Amelia said...

    I had a similar experience without the happy ending. My music was taped together & ALL of it blew over into my lap REPEATEDLY. I thought surely someone would come up on stage & hold my music, but it wasn't church & I guess no one felt like helping me out. I was able to hold back my tears until I got to the car at least...oh so humiliating!