Future Drummer

Thursday, before all the craziness of Friday hit, Graham and I were spending a leisurely day at home, trying to get his tummy bug to clear up. He was sitting up really well, so we mutually decided that this would be a good time to pull out a pot and give the drums a whirl.

You will observe three things in this fairly brief clip:

  1. Graham hits himself in the face almost as much as he hits his intended target. (And, as such, starts to brace himself whenever he takes a swing at the pot. This reminds me much of Gabriel shutting his eyes to avoid the barrage of ice, while continuing to fill water glasses with ice from the refrigerator door at Grandpa and Grandma’s house.)
  2. G almost pokes his eye out on at least two occasions.
  3. He lacks the strength to stay upright for very long, leaving him folded almost in half at the end of the video. (In stark comparison to a very upright boy in the beginning of the video.)


Unto the Lamb

Good morning! Hugo and I are about to depart for our day. He’s spending at the vet (poor guy), and I’m about to meet up with Andy at the perinatologist’s for our big ultrasound appointment.

But… before I left, I wanted to share an amazing song that our band did in church yesterday. This song was composed by a local worship leader (I think I got that right), and our band leader has been considering it for some time. Yesterday was the day.

For this song, the praise band was joined by the youth choir. We put it in as an offertory song, and I think to say that it moved the congregation is an understatement. In fact, as I was telling Andy over chili dogs later that day, it felt a little like the movie Sister Act, because people were actually streaming in from the outside of the sanctuary to see what the noise was all about. It was a pretty cool day.

Unto The Lamb

I’ve Heard; But This Time, I Listened

The praise band Andy and I play in performed “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day” in church this morning. The pastor was doing a sermon on the fourth Sunday of advent: “Peace.”

I suppose I’ve heard this song a hundred times before, I just never realized that it was so sad. The song was written based on a poem that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote during the darkest period of his life. He’d recently lost his wife in a fire, and his son had just been wounded in the [Civil] war. It’s not about happy Christmas bells; it’s about him hearing the phrase “Peace on Earth” and wondering where exactly this peace is supposed to mean. He didn’t feel it, personally, and he didn’t see it anywhere he looked.

This is a new arrangment of a very old song, done by Casting Crowns. I thought that the singer had changed the words to reflect today’s times – to make the song a little more relevant, I suppose. Turns out, no, these are the words to the original carol. I’ve printed the words below in case you want to read them.

Pastor Doug closed the sermon, after this song was sung, and re-stated one line from it: “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.” In a world that feels far from peaceful, we have to start somewhere. Peace has to begin with ourselves and spread outward.

Sorry if this sounds preachy, but I really just wanted to share the song. It’s sad, yes, but hopeful. I hope you like it.

I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men

And the bells are ringing
Like a choir they’re singing
In my heart I hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing
Like a choir singing
Does anybody hear them?
Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they’re ringing
Like a choir they’re singing
And with our hearts we’ll hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they’re ringing?
The life the angels singing
Open up your heart and hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace on earth, Peace on earth
Peace on earth, Good will to men

The Keyboard Experience and What-Not

I survived church this morning!!! This week was hectic, as many know, and preparation time was in short supply. I’d get home at 9 pm and sit down at the piano for an hour before bed. Andy helped a ton. He knows all the chords that our band leader had written on the page, so we sat down together – him with the acoustic and me at the piano – and tone-matched until I knew what to play when I saw “D2” or “C#m” on the page.

Then after I learned the chords (which all consist of three or four notes played together), I had to figure out when to play them. For awhile, I just played straight chords as the song sheet dictated, which frankly isn’t all that interesting. Friday afternoon though, I got home from work, sat at the piano and stayed there until I figured out how to spice it up a little. Turns out, as might be common sense for some, I could play any combination of the notes in the chord – in any order and in any octave – that I wanted just as long as I stayed “in the chord”. Andy calls this “noodling”. Not sure why, but the other members of the band call it that too.

So after church this morning, the band director turned around with a big smile on his face and said, “You’re hired!” I guess I passed the audition. :) And you know what? It’s actually pretty fun to just play whatever the heck you feel adds to the song. I suppose this means I’ll be playing keyboard now from time to time to give our regular pianist a break. She plays every single week, and with a 3-hour rehearsal Thursday night and a half-day commitment on Sunday, that’s a sure set-up for burnout.

Now for the what-not. Crazy week! Dinner at friends’ house in the middle of the week as a send-off for my intern. Thursday was a focus group for the new work I’m doing. Friday was band rehearsal. Saturday, I went to Hurrican Harbour – the Six Flags water park. We had a choice of going to Six Flags or the water park, and since it was projected to be over 100 degrees that day, a bunch of us opted for the water park. As a side note, I think I’m getting too old for water parks. I couldn’t keep from getting grossed out at everything I was seeing. I kept telling myself that I was over-reacting, but there were several occasions when I had to squeeze my eyes shut and find my happy place. :)

Now Andy’s in Houston, with Brian actually. I’m keeping myself busy with odd jobs around the house, and just generally enjoying having the place to myself. Usually it’s me who’s doing the traveling!

I’m With the Band

Many of you know that Andy and I are active in the band that leads worship in our church’s contemporary service. Andy plays guitar. He’s excellent, which is what anyone who actually knows him would expect, as he’s played since he was 13. Okay, Andy, I know you’ve played since you were 8, but he branched out from “Wild Thing” when he was 13.

On a side note, it’s interesting isn’t it? When you try to get your child to learn an instrument? You never know if it’s going to take. I mean yes, they may know the mechanics of the instrument and perhaps the theory behind the music, but until they start pursuing pieces of music on their own, you know it hasn’t really become a part of who they are. When you start to incorporate the music you enjoy into the instrument you know how to play, you go from “I know how to play the piano,” to “I play piano.” A slight, but actually pretty significant difference. So what was the music that made Andy and I ‘fall’ for our respective instruments? For Andy, it was Kurt Cobain. For me? Christmas carols. What would you have expected?

Back to my original point, Andy is amazing at the guitar, so he really adds to whatever we are trying to put together in the praise band. Actually, he was the first of the two of us to join. Then I got looped in, because they were short on singers. Now, I sing. I enjoy singing. I was a humble member of what was arguably one of the best high school choruses in Illinois, and I’m comfortable with a mic in my hand. But then we bought the piano. And it wouldn’t have been so bad to just buy it, but I talked about it non-stop. To everyone. So excited was I to have my beloved stringed instrument. Bigger than a harp; louder than a banjo. I was in heaven.

Among the people I told, were the members of the praise band. And our band leader caught wind of it. And I was told in an off-hand manner, by him, that I should play keys for them some Sunday, to give our keyboardist a break every so often. Well, it turns out he was serious. And “some Sunday” turned into “this Sunday” quicker than I’d expected. I tried to give him the disclaimer that:

  1. Up until four months ago, I had been without a piano for 8 years.
  2. I haven’t played for anyone but immediate family since I was 13.
  3. I only play off sheet music.

See, the sheet music point is actually a really big deal, because we don’t use it in the band. Our “music” is a bunch of typed text with the guitar chords written over them. So, with our “music”, I know that I’m supposed to play an A major chord when they sing “Day” but that’s about all. Not only that, but I haven’t really thought about major and minor chords and key signatures since I had to learn them back in the day. When I play a piece of music, I just look at what notes are sharp and flat in the song, and I play accordingly. I don’t look and say “Oh yes, that’s in A minor.” See what I’m saying?

To be unmistakably clear, let me review. I haven’t played in front of a crowd, much less some 200 or so people, for over 10 years. I’m rusty on the piano as it is. I don’t have sheet music to play from. I don’t remember what an A major chord is much less a C# minor 7th chord. AND the chords only give me a guideline. I’m supposed to play notes in that family, on rhythm, and somehow SOMEHOW make it sound good?!? Again – in front of 200 people, trying their hardest to praise God despite the discordant racket in the background. Ugh.

So “freaking out” is an apt way to describe my behavior this last week. And to put a cherry on top, I have had a work-related function every single night this week. Thus, no practice time. Andy and I worked on stuff a little bit last night, and I have some hope that this won’t be a total wash. Practice with the band is tonight, so we shall see.