Starting from the beginning – remembering my music experiences through the years .
When I was just 2 or 3 my mother sang songs to me. I remember learning the songs, “I Have Two Little Hands” and “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam”. There were many others, but these two I particularly remember because when I went to Sunday School at that age for the first time (yes it used to be called Sunday School, not Primary) they sang those songs. I was so surprised that everyone else knew my songs. Infact, I was a little mad because I thought they were MY songs and no one else’s! I soon got over that though and loved singing the songs with everyone else.
Music has always been an important part of my life. At 8 years of age, I started piano lessons. My teacher lived in a small town (Manti, Utah) which was 21 miles from the town I lived in (Moroni, Utah). His name was Mr. Lavar Jensen. He was a retired concert pianist from New York City.
I remember my piano lessons and how he always stressed to be relaxed - to not get tense and tight in my hands and shoulders. I had to strike the keys with the ends of my fingers – not to lay them flat on the keys – (because of this, I couldn’t have long fingernails – I had to keep them short while learning to play the piano). I had to keep my wrist level and even – not way up high or way low resting on the keys. Sometimes as I was playing I would tense up and he would stand behind me and push gently on my shoulders to make them go down so I would relax. Consequently as some of my grandchildren are now taking lessons and playing the piano – I’ve sat down with them and told them all of these things to do also.
A funny thing I remember Mr. Jensen doing is giving me a spoonful of sugar if I got the hiccups during a piano lesson (which did happen several times). I would eat the sugar and then take a drink of water. It worked every time – my hiccups always went away.
I took piano lessons until I was a Junior in High School (which was 8 years). I really got involved in extracurricular activities in High School, so my parents left the choice up to me. As I progressed in my piano lessons I had to practice a lot. I always had to practice in the morning before school getting up at 6:00 am so I could practice an hour and then when I got home from school I practiced another hour. In the summertime I was supposed to practice 3 hours a day. Now of course I didn’t always do this and sometimes fudged on how much I was supposed to do, but most of the time I came close.
In Junior High and High School I played the piano for the music choirs along with 2 or 3 other s who played the piano also. I participated in music contests both playing the piano and singing in a Double Trio with my friends. I also discovered in high school that from playing the piano so much – I was a very fast typist. I typed in the 70 to 80 ppm range in high school and got up to the 90 to 100 ppm in college. I also participated in various typing contests in school and won awards for that.
Through the years some of my friends and I sang in various programs and different places. We sang special numbers for Sacrament Meeting and other church activities. We sang in contests for the Music Program in School. We had great fun singing together. The group consisted of Paula Bailey, Nora Olsen, Karla Blackham, Rinda Arnoldson, Susan Livingston, and myself. Sister Nelson was our accompanist and taught us how to sing together. She did this all on her own. We sang at church and other events, including School.
When I was in Junior High, one day some people my dad knew came to visit us. Their daughter played the piano and played a couple of songs for us. She played sooooooo beautifully with so much feeling. I remember hearing my parents talk about her and how beautifully she played, so I started to try to do that more in my piano playing too. From that point on, music really changed and meant a lot to me, especially as I started to accompany others who sang. The words were so beautiful and it was fun to accompany someone who had a strong voice so I could play with more depth and feeling also as I accompanied them.
Church callings related to my music ability have been – Ward Organist, accompanist for the Ward Choir, Primary Pianist, Primary Chorister, Stake Primary Chorister.
Because of my church calling as pianist for MIA, I got to sing in a choir for General Conference held in Salt Lake City which was composed of all the Pianists and Choristers for MIA in their own stakes. It was a wonderful experience; I went with Anna Blackham (a cousin a couple of years older than me) to Salt Lake City to sing. It was in the old Tabernacle on Temple Square. I ended up sitting near the bottom of the seats that were close to the general authorities .
Boys against girls getting that head all the way to the top singing their best.
The graphics are a delightful part of this story. You have artistic talents to go with your musical abilities. It made for a more colorful story. Nice work!
Thanks - I really had fun coloring drawings for a few years. I have a whole lot more. I still use them occasionally.