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Day 361: A Wretch Like Me!

I had a good day yesterday.

I began in a place of fear and ended up with a feeling of peace and confidence.

Ever the procrastinator, I found myself yet again on the day Tuesday. Day of choir practice.  I had told myself that after my season with the chamber music group was finished, I would devote my entire being to practicing the Mozart Requiem.

The choir I accompany is performing this immense, gorgeous, but quite difficult work at the end of May. An adult choir of about 50 people, some solo vocalists and two pianists.  Myself and another very accomplished pianist.

Problem is I had not been motivated to practice from the full score. I am the rehearsal pianist. I attend rehearsal every week and help plunk out parts for the choir. As the piece comes together, I read the accompaniment. But in this case, the accompaniment is obscenely difficult. It is written for orchestra. I do not have enough fingers (or toes) to do it justice.

Thankfully, the director was wise enough to order an arrangement for four hands (i.e. two pianists). Much more doable. We had practiced a few times with the other pianists last term. But will not see her again until the dress rehearsal.

In the meantime, I have been coasting, focusing on chamber music, students, family and my own quest for health. Not practicing the orchestral score much.

But the director called me on it a few weeks ago. Said I really should practice it a bit.  The choir needed to hear what the work sounds like with accompaniment as we get close to performance.

That was a good wake up call. I practiced a few hours that week. But then got distracted again. I tend to practice what is imminent. I had a few music clubs to play for, rehearsal for chamber group, audition for a church and performance with chamber group.

Honestly, I have not felt like I have been giving ANYTHING my all lately.

I have been feeling burned to the out!

I did some soul searching, and decided to drop the chamber group.  I have enjoyed playing music with these lovely people, but rehearsal always filled me with looming despair. It was every Saturday at 6:00 p.m. right after my very busy day teaching. I am an introvert. I love to teach. But afterwards I need to unwind. Alone. In quiet. Perhaps with the company of a good book.

I worked with myself to get my peppy, friendly side out for practice. But it did not. Lower I sank.

Interestingly, at performance I glowed. I loved performing with them. But the day after, I would feel like I was run over by a truck. Overextended was I. And being an introvert, not enough time to recharge my battery!

I am looking at the looming age of 55 in a few months. I want to try and devote my time to what is meaningful to me. God. Family. Health.  Wisdom. Peace. And giving. I am feeling called to give to the homeless, poor and marginalized.

I was very happy when our chamber group did some free homeless concerts around the holidays.  I would like to volunteer my time to provide music for those who normally are struggling just for the basic necessities of life. Although, in my book, music qualifies as a basic necessity!

The challenge for me, is to work enough to earn enough money to cover my basic needs, plus extra to allow me to volunteer.

Luckily I heard from the priest of the church I have been auditioning at. They want me back this Sunday.

And I am working on my summer teaching schedule.  I am nearly booked with students. I  try to keep my studio small to allow commute time on bus, but also to allow me to have the breathing room I need in between students.

And a day of rest.

I have immense guilt from raising two children alone. Not being there enough for them. Working up to five part time jobs at a time, and still never making ends meet.

Now they are in their twenties. But we are close. Well, we live together. My daughter, her husband, my son and I.  My father, who I have not been close to since I was very very young had a stroke around Christmas. He was not recovering well. So they tested him and discovered he has Parkinsons disease.

Parkinsons disease has been the best thing that has ever happened to our little family.  My father was quite horrible to my brother and I growing up.

But now that he is followed closely by several physicians, on meds including antidepressants, and is ordered to exercise...well he is quite pleasant!

I realize my parents are getting older and will not always be with us...well one never knows, does one?

So I want to have enough time to spend with my family.

Anyway, how did I get so far off track?

I went to the gym yesterday. Had a lovely, intense 30 min cardio workout on the treadmill while watching CNN. I have been quite amused by the 2016 presidential campaign. In fact, I stayed so long at the gym, that I only had time for lunch when I returned home. Not the hour of piano practice I had planned!

But lunch was divine! I had used the leftover veggies from our freezer meals, a couple cans of chickpeas, a can of diced tomatoes and some chicken stock. Threw it in the crockpot while I went to the gym. When I got home I added some sauteed minced onion, cumin, lime juice, turmeric, coriander, chili powder and my old standby "Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning".

Tony Chacherres Creole Seasoning

Then I sauteed a few veggie burgers and chopped them up.  

Oh. My. Goodness. This was so good!  

I sat at the table with my creation and a big glass of water and my current escape book by Janet Evanovich ( and totally lost track of time.

I barely made it out the door in time for my first student.

I felt like hitting myself on the my bonehead head!  How could a week have gone by and I have done absolutely no practice for rehearsal!

But I got hold of myself. I remembered some of the lessons I have learned. First of all, to believe in myself. Breathe. Do not panic.

Second, (Well this should be first!), I have a God who hears me and answers my prayers.  I prayed.

Third.  Practice in my head. Look at the score on the bus.

Four. Drink iced tea before rehearsal. The caffeine helps me focus. But no mochas this late in the day (rehearsal is at 7 p.m.). I learned that the hard way last week!

Five. Focus.  During rehearsal, I took my deep piano ninja breath (this is what I tell my students to do before a performance). Everytime my mind started to wander, I told myself "back on track!" and took another ninja breath.  I looked at the director and my music. Not at the choir.  I love these people, but they might smile, wave or talk to me which would dissolve my powers of concentration.

OK. Results......

Drum roll ....

I nailed it!

The director, who I have known and worked with for many years, at least 15 (I have lost track), came over and shook my hand and thanked me after rehearsal. 

I do not remember him ever doing this!  

I floated him. I could barely feel my feet.  One of the choir members usually gives me a ride to the bus stop. We had a jolly conversation, and I actually joked around with her, got quite giddy actually!

But I will not rely on this method again! 

Today I was given a present from above. A day off! My Salem students canceled.

My plan for today:
  1. Blog
  2. Breakfast
  3. Prayer
  4. Bible Study
  5. Gym
  6. Grocery store to pick up ribs. (I am making ribs in the crockpot for a special family gathering this weekend for Mothers Day.)
  7. Lunch
  8. Practice piano. Goal: 2 hours 
And since I have been such a wretch, lately, my hymn of the day is Amazing Grace.  I am humbled that God has been there for me my whole life. He must be shaking his head up there.  The story of the writing of this hymn in itself is amazing.    

I would share the story, but I do need to get started with my day. You can read about it here:

Wow, but this is a long post!

And on that note, Happy Wednesday!

Words by John Newton (1725-1807), v. 1-4
v. 5 from A Collection of Sacred ballads, 1790
Music based on a Traditional American Melody from Carrel and Claytons "Virginia Harmony", 1831. arr. by Edwin O. Excell, 1900
(The Hymn Fake Book, Hal Leonard)
  1. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me!
    I once was lost, but now am found;
    Was blind, but now I see.
  2. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
    And grace my fears relieved;
    How precious did that grace appear
    The hour I first believed.
  3. Through many dangers, toils and snares,
    I have already come;
    ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
    And grace will lead me home.
  4. The Lord has promised good to me,
    His Word my hope secures;
    He will my Shield and Portion be,
    As long as life endures.
  5. Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
    And mortal life shall cease,
    I shall possess, within the veil,
    A life of joy and peace.
  6. The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
    The sun forbear to shine;
    But God, who called me here below,
    Will be forever mine.
  7. When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
    Bright shining as the sun,
    We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
    Than when we’d first begun.


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