I confess. I'm the type of person that often sits there and worries about what people think of them. When I'm struggling in a class, I worry that people think I'm stupid. When I'm good in a class, I worry that the other students will think I'm a know it all. I worry when I say something stupid or don't say anything at all. I worry about what Jane Doe might have thought when I made that comment in church and if she'll go home and talk with her roommates about how much I babble on and on.
So when the parents of the ward mission leader (of my last ward in Florida on my mission) come up to me after the baptism and say "it was so nice of you to fill in on the piano", my first thought is that my playing was so bad, everyone thought I had to be filling in.
In fact I was filling in. I had played for another baptism there already. There was an assumption that since there were three sister missionaries serving in the ward, one of us had to be able to play the piano. They were right. It was me (but not very well, mind you!). "Please call a pianist," I had requested fervently for the January baptism we were coordinating.
"Yeah, no problem," he'd assured me. When we came that night, there was a crowd of people, but no one to play the piano. Inevitably I sat at the bench, worrying about how awful each jarring note must have been to all the poor listeners.
About a month later, my mission companions and I took an investigator to see another baptism. Once again, there was no one to play, so I sat through, hoping that people would let me and my companions into their homes after.
As my companions talked to Sister Nelson (who was getting baptized the next week), I talked to my ward mission leader. Well, it wasn't so much talking as begging. "Please, please, PLEASE remember to call someone to play the piano next Saturday," I asked, hands clasped and ready to get on my knees if need be.
"I will," he told me. I looked skeptical, he promised again. I made a mental note to call him the day before.
As we turned to the others, Sister Nelson had a glint in her eye. "I didn't know you could play the piano! Will you play for my baptism next week?"
My ward mission leader smirked. I hid a scowl. "Yes, of course," I said. I can only hope I didn't ruin anyone's favorite song.
When I started school again, I decided my dismal playing skills had to improve. I signed up for one credit of piano lessons. It turned out to be a great class to have. No midterm. No busy work. And an excuse to mess around on the piano for at least five hours a week. I have taken private lessons for two semesters now. This summer, the family I stayed with got sick of my playing, I'm sure. The kids locked up the piano at least, but I continued to practice whenever possible.
When I went home last Christmas (after semester 1 of lessons) I sat at the piano and practiced. Upstairs, my younger brother, who's loathe to compliment me in anything, went to ask my mom "Is that Marie playing? No way!"
That's right. It's amazing what some hard work, an expert teacher and some determination to never be caught off guard again can do to a girl! Though my playing was far from perfect and I still have a long way to go, I have to say that I'm grateful for the ability to improve on the talents we've been given and for the people in our lives who encourage, support, and sometimes even coerce us into useing them.
PS Thanks Annie for singing and enjoy the video :)