Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Primary Pianist... The Loniest Calling?

 Image courtesy creative commons license flickr.com by Maltagirl May 2006
Recently a good friend of mine told me that being a primary pianist was her least favorite calling ever.
I was flabbergasted.
Because I loved, loved, loved being a primary pianist.
I enjoyed watching and learning. Seeing what worked. What didn't.
I loved the children and when I wasn't playing the piano, I was sitting with them.
In fact, there was one rowdy lil' guy that I took under my wing and we were buddies.
I asked my friend why she didn't enjoy it and she said quote,
"It's a lonely calling. You're in the corner all by yourself."
Well friends. This is not a Three Dog Night music video.
This is real.
Mother Theresa once said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” 
And this needs to be fixed.
Solutions on the part of Choristers & Primary Presidency:
1. Don't just acknowledge the pianist, make them a rock star.
We're grateful for Sister D our pianist.... verses....What would we ever do without Sister D? She is the very best pianist in the world! We are so lucky to sing alongside her magic fingers!!! Did you just hear how fast she played!! Her fingers move faster than a super sonic jet plane! And yet so delicate at other times that you feel like you're listening to flowers dance!!
2. Have brief conversations & ask questions with your pianist while you're teaching.
Nephi crossed the ocean... Hey, Sister D have you ever crossed the ocean before? You have? Where did you go to? Oh my! A cruise to Tahiti sounds like so much fun, but didn't you get seasick? Wow. I didn't even know they made patches you can put on the back of your neck to avoid that... I bet Nephi and his family would have appreciated some of those!!!
3.While doing activities with balls, DO NOT hit the pianist.
We're going to toss the ball lightly into the bucket. PLEASE. Whatever you do... DO NOT!!!! I repeat DO NOT hit Sister D. We can not have her passed out on the floor because someone whacked her with the ball. If we don't have Sister D, we don't have music we have the scary sing out of tune with Sister Lykes (enter chorister) show.
4. Whisper your answer to the pianist!!
We're going to be singing Primary Colors.... Our primary friend is going to choose a color- red, yellow or blue. You stand on the color you think they chose!! Primary friend, please go tell Sister D what color you choose!
I want to get to know our primary friend better! Can you whisper to Sister D what your favorite animal is? OK primary friends, let's see if you can guess what it is!
5.Ask the pianist their opinion.
Sister D, are our children the very best singers in the entire world? Do you think that Heavenly Father and the angels are smiling right now because of the lovely way our primary friends sang?
Who's your favorite scripture prophet Sister D?
6. Thank the pianist FOR SPECIFICS.
Generics stink. I mean it's nice and better than nothing, but what do we want to teach our children. Let's teach them that beauty can be in the detail.
Thank you Sister D for that beautiful prelude music. You help invite the spirit every week and we are so grateful for your service.
Thank you Sister D for always playing so peppy. If the songs were too slow we'd fall asleep, but your lovely playing makes us want to sing even more!!
7. Thumbs up & silent cheers for the pianist!
Wow great singing everyone! Please give yourself a pat on the back and a kiss on the brain. And while we're at it, let's give Sister D 2 big thumbs up and a silent cheer for just being awesome and wearing such a beautiful skirt today. There is one modest babe! (Last sentence only to be used if your pianist is over 70)
Solutions on the part of the pianist themselves:
1. Have a great attitude!
Whether you wanted this calling or not, you've accepted and will be blessed for it. You might not ever be acknowledged for your hard work, practice and dilligence... but you know what, Heavenly Father knows and one day before the throngs of eternity you will be praised for your smiling face and fingers that helped his little ones grow and prosper.
2. Get involved and don't wait to be invited.
If you aren't needed at the piano, see what you can do. Are some kids chit chatty? Go sit by them and smile. How is their week going? Great! Let's listen to the lesson and after you can tell me all about it!
Kiddos need lots of love and attention. You could be that special person that Heavenly Father wants in their life. Don't be just a wall flower.
3. After singing, throw in your two cents!
Wow! I just had to say, when you sweet primary children sang I got the chills!! That was so neat to feel the spirit that strongly! Thank you!!
4. If children come visit you at the piano, talk to them!
Show them things. Teach them things. Have they ever heard of a treble cleff? What if you are the person that inspires them to become a concert musician? To read music you have to memorize a short phrase- see if you can remember- every good boy does fine! In one ward, I remember having about 10 kids come and visit me at the piano... I had to make sure that they knew it was OK, but only after primary!
5. Be there for those children with special needs!
Sometimes music can be soothing to children with special needs. Let them sit by you and watch your fingers move. Let them turn pages for you. Let them double check that you're on the right page. Pray and talk with the primary presidency and parents to see if this would be a good option. I remember one ward with a little girl in a wheelchair... she loved the pianist because she could see the wonderful possibilities one can do with their hands!
6. Know that you are NEVER alone.
Thank you MJ. Rest in peace.
Even though I'm sure he wasn't writing about Heavenly Father, his lyrics still ring true.
You are not alone.
What is the only cure for loneliness?
A good dose of Jesus.
"I believe that for most of us the best medicine for loneliness is work, service in behalf of others. I do not minimize your problems, but I do not hesitate to say that there are many others whose problems are more serious than are yours. Reach out to serve them, to help them, to encourage them."


Darcey said...

This is great to think about, since the Primary Pianist is often forgotten about. I have to say it's one of my favorite callings, though - easy as pie, fun, and the time goes soo much faster than it does doing anything else! I don't mind at all being stuck in a corner by myself. :)

Lisa Van Gemert said...

What great ideas! My pianist is moving, and I will be sure to make sure she feels special before she goes and that we treat the new one (if I can find one!!!) wonderfully. Thank you!

Hifam said...

Thanks! I love the ideas.

Kala said...

Thank you for this post! The music is sooooo very important! Making sure that our WONDERFUL music people are happy is a must. Thank you for the ideas!

sashweer sailash said...

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Willis Family said...

We love our pianist and she LOVES her calling! She is the best! She doesn't just sit in the corner and play. She interacts with the kids while she plays. This could be hard for someone who either doesn't play well or is not confident in their playing. Even if you're not the best player on the block,when you talk to the kids and give your input and suggestions, it changes how the singing time portion works. I am SUPER thankful for my pianist!!!

Amanda said...

Both our pianist and chorister are incredibly musical. They asked if it would be okay if they switched off from week to week. It works out perfectly! The kids get to learn from two different people (one is even a man!), the chorister only has to prepare every other week, and no one is stuck behind the piano forever!

Debbie Gisle said...

This is so great. I had the same inklings when I was first called. Since then, I have become great friends with the Primary Pianist and have really worked hard to include the new one that was just called. The "Don't Throw the Ball" was my favorite. For anyone reading this, can all your choristers join my FB group that is a private group just for us? Please feel free to link to these AWESOME blog posts (I added this specific one to my group)! Thanks for all your ideas "Sofia's Primary Ideas"! http://www.facebook.com/groups/498750880136182/

JessicaBusby said...

Thank you so much for this post!!! I'm a new primary president and I could use all the tips I can get!! It's good to know what others feel like so that we can help them feel welcome in primary which is already an AWESOME place to be in!!

Victoria Townsel said...

Piano music is the best sound that I can think of. It's calming, it's classic, I can feel how my energy is being restored while I listen to it. My favorite pianist is Sergei Rachmaninov, his music is perfect, he definitely was a great professional and a talented musician as well. Thanks a lot for such a great post, was my pleasure to read.

Kayla Nicole said...

I needed this tonight. Thank you for this post. I love playing the piano in primary, but have been struggling with severe loneliness and isolation in my current ward. This post just brightened my day.