Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Inspired to Pursue a Lifetime of Music
All of my life, I have been drawn to music. Although my first instrument was the flute, I have always felt a deep love for the piano. When I was younger, I had two years of lessons, but I didn’t have the chance to play for many years.
As I began my career in ministry, I found myself being constantly fascinated by the variety ways the piano can be used in a worship setting. With it’s flexibility and versatility, the piano can be used for both contemporary praise music, congregational singing, solo pieces, or accompanying a choir.
Several years ago, when I was visiting a local nursing home, I walked through the doors to the lobby and was immediately greeted by the sweet sound of a familiar melody. A woman was seated at a small piano in the lobby, playing hymn.
“That’s beautiful,” I said to the person I was visiting.
“I know,” they responded. “And would you believe that she is almost 100 years old? She lives here and she plays hymns for us every day. It’s a wonderful gift.”
After I left, I couldn’t get the image of the woman at the keyboard out of my mind. She looked so serene and happy, and her music was giving so many people peace and joy.
Slow Progress & Adaptations
At the time, I was over thirty-years old. I worried that I was far too old to learn the piano. I also knew that I would face additional challenges because of my poor vision. Nevertheless, I prayed about it. I couldn’t shake the feeling that, if I took time to learn the piano, God could use it somehow.
“Besides,” I reasoned, “It’s not like I want to become a concert pianist. Perhaps with a lot of work and even more prayer, I could learn to play some hymns.”
I found an incredible teacher who was willing to take on an adult student with a visual impairment (I highly recommend her work!) and I began practicing. There were some days I skipped practicing, but I made it a goal to practice at least 60 to 90 minutes a day. Sometimes I played for two hours or more.
Despite all my practice, I will admit that often my progress feels painfully slow. I think some of this is because of my visual impairment, but I refuse to give up.
I enlarge my music on a copy machine using 11×17 paper to at least 130% of its original size. I keep my favorite pieces in a large binder that is especially designed for over sized paper. I also have worked out a system where I use thick markers and brightly colored highlighters to mark my music.
Because I have trouble with focusing my vision, I find that memorizing large sections of music works best for me, that way I do not have to keep looking from the keyboard to my hands.
Digital Hymn Sing
In order to celebrate my one year Piano Anniversary, I put together this video of a digital hymn sing. In September, it will be exactly one year since I started taking piano lessons as an adult. I wanted to learn the piano so I could praise God through music. During times of social distancing, playing hymns each day makes me feel closer to God and my church community.
These pieces aren’t perfect — I still have so much to learn — but practicing them and meditating on them has been a joy. When you practice music over and over again, it seeps into your soul. That is why hymns are important— they are theology. This video begins and ends with Amazing Grace, because God’s love is truly amazing. I hope they help someone out there feel closer to God. Jesus loves you 💚🎹🎶
It’s my one year Piano Anniversary! Let’s celebrate with a digital hymn sing!
1. My best attempt at Amazing Grace in the style of a Blues Shuffle (I’ll get there eventually)
2. Simple Gifts (one of my favorite hymns that doesn’t happen to be in our hymnal)
3. Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross
4. How Great Thou Art
5. Nearer My God to Thee
6. Amazing Grace
If you love something, do it! Don’t let your age or having a disability stop you. God gave all of us gifts that we can use for His Glory. Fill the world with light and love– and follow Jesus. Jesus loves you.
Until Next Time,
This post is part of the series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
Now, it’s your turn! What Scripture verse is inspiring you this week? Let me know in the comments below! I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday.
Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!
Rev. Rebecca (B.S. English Ed. & M.Div.) is United Methodist pastor, author, literary critic, and disability awareness activist. Rebecca is particularly passionate about spreading the love of God to those who have been traditionally marginalized by society. Her chapbook, "Through My Good Eye: A Memoir in Verse," is now available on Kindle and in paperback.
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4 thoughts on “Digital Hymn Sing: One Year Piano Progress (His Encouragement)”
You are an inspiration! 🙌😍
I tried to leave a comment, but my page went back to the top when clicking. Couldnât find the comment button 2nd time around. So sorry.
I play the flute. Only read music, but after 12 yrs. Of not playing, I got it out, and God taught me slowly to play by ear. . .at church. Wrote a blog post about it called, âOvercoming Obstaclesâ (I think). Play every service.
Had a love for piano and tried to teach myself, took a few lessons, but home schooling my youngest took time away so quit. Maybe when Iâm 70, Iâll finally have time. LOL. Congrats! Iâm proud of yoyu.
Would you mind if I reblogged this post and introduced it as a guest blog by you? If yes, Iâll post it 9/10. Please let me know. Thanks.
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I’m so proud of you! Sending you a big hug.