Thursday, August 23, 2012

Preparing for the "Piano Olympics"

As we begin a new school year, I want to encourage my piano students with this note.

Train like an athlete.

Many of you probably enjoyed watching the London 2012 Summer Olympics. I know I did.

As I watched I was reminded that athletes and musicians have a lot in common when it comes to TRAINING and PRACTICE. If you’re going to get good at something—and I mean REALLY good at something—it takes hard work and discipline.

Those Olympic athletes practiced with a goal in mind: they wanted to make the Olympic team. They worked their bodies and their minds over and over and over again. As spectators we often see just the final results: the 3-second dive into the pool, the 40-second sprint to the finish, the 30-second lap in the pool, the 10-second vault into the air. We often don't see the YEARS of preparation that went into that final competition. It takes TRAINING. It takes preparation.

Now we really don’t have “Piano Olympics.” But there are times when you will be called upon to perform what you have practiced. We are headed for our Olympic-themed spring recital this year, and we are going to train and prepare for that, just as if we were getting ready for an Olympic sport. I’ll be your coach. I’ll help you train. But you have to be ready to WORK.

I have heard many times, “I played it perfectly at home. What happened?” Many times it’s due to lack of mental preparation. This year we are going to focus on playing with distractions: what happens when the nerves hit, what happens when my music falls down, what happens when I can’t remember where middle C is?

We’ll work at it. We’ll get better. We’re preparing for the “Piano Olympics.” Are you ready?


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2011 Year in Review

I love watching HGTV. As I ponder the events of the past year, I wonder how they would pass a “Holmes Inspection”? Do you watch it? Mike Holmes comes in to a home that may look nice on the surface, but usually there’s a problem that may not be evident until you start peeling back the layers of the drywall and look at the structure underneath. I’m thinking in terms of Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I enjoy hearing from many of you (especially at Christmas and New Year) with what has transpired in your life this year, but sometimes I wonder, what would happen if we did a “Holmes Inspection”? What’s going on underneath the surface? So I would encourage you to challenge ME in this endeavor. I make it my goal this year in 2012 to “Go Deeper.”

In 2011 I was encouraged by my church family to “Live Life Together.” This challenged me to grow in my relationships with others. I tried to be intentional in spending time with others (which I still need to work on), because if you know me at all you know that I love to spend time alone with a good book—or House Hunters, White Collar, Psych, Amazing Race, the Sing-Off, or Chopped.

In “small group” fashion I enjoy spending quality time with my church’s worship team as we prepare music for each Sunday. This involves quality time in rehearsals on Wednesday nights and four (yes, 4) services on Sunday mornings. You really get to know people in close quarters for about 5 hours every Sunday! I am thankful for the godly examples these people are to me and the ways we encourage each other to really be having a true heart for worship and the Lord. We even got to take some members of our worship team on the road for 4 days in September as we packed a van and headed to Pennsylvania to help lead music for some special chapels with Pastor Viars at Baptist Bible College & Seminary. We had a lot of fun on our #FaithPA trip (as it was known on Twitter--& the DVD I created from the pictures & videos). By the way, our church decided to be known as Faith Church this year (instead of Faith Baptist Church)—still Baptistic in nature and constitutionally, just a name change.

Another way to develop relationships with others has been my Tuesday night ladies’ Bible study with some of the women from the Career Class ABF (Adult Bible Fellowship), who are a real encouragement to me. This led to my being asked to travel with 3 other gals from this class in August on a week-long vacation in Collingwood, Ontario. So I renewed my passport and was able to visit some good friends in Toronto (and see their month-old baby) along the way, too. We enjoyed the local beaches, hiking, grilling on the patio, and a 3-hour cruise of the Georgian Bay. It was very relaxing.

I traveled a lot in 2011. I was able to spend time in Michigan with my family in July. I am really inspired to grow closer to my family as I see my nephews growing up: Reagan (3) & Grant (1) Eliason along with Micah (3) and Wesley (1) Hill. (And baby Hill coming in April 2012.) They encourage me to visit home as often as I can so I can be “Auntie Beth.” Of course, if you tell Reagan I’m coming, he’ll want to know if it’s “Auntie Beth AND Juju”? Juju is a big hit with the nephews. She is now a very mellow 5-year-old, although if there’s food or a walk (or a squirrel or bunny) involved she really perks up!

I’m still working at Faith Christian School in Lafayette, IN. I have about 43 piano students (grades K-12), 60-some in Kindergarten general music (split up into 3 classes), and over 100 little preschoolers when we combine K3 & K4 for our Preschool programs! In October our school’s Faith Ministry Team (whom I accompany) traveled to my parents’ church in Ishpeming, MI and my brother’s church in Crivitz, WI, along with a few other stops along with the way of our 4-day tour. I enjoyed showing the 22 high schoolers my old “stomping ground.”

I got to see family again in November when some ladies (including my mom & sister-in-law Kristen & Aunt Elaine) attended the True Woman ’11 Conference in Indianapolis. We got to hear Nancy Leigh DeMoss & Crawford Loritts & pianist Fernando Ortega. It was great to be encouraged with other ladies—many of whom were pastor’s wives or ministry leaders. While I am not technically a “ministry leader,” my heart is definitely in full-time service, currently in a Christian school. But I like to consider myself as a “missionary” to greater Lafayette and am willing to be used of God wherever He may take me. I enjoy keeping in touch (& desire to grow in praying for) my friends who are missionaries around the world, and I like to keep in touch with them via Facebook and/or Twitter.

For Thanksgiving I visited my friend Jackie in Chicago and enjoyed a relaxing break before the Christmas craziness started (Christmas Parade, Career Class Party, Preschool Program, K-12 Christmas Spectacular, 2 Christmas Piano Recitals, Talent Show, & Church Musical).

I am also looking for ways to be involved in my community that would help me reach out and show love to others. I volunteer twice a month at our church’s Community Center front desk. I was elected this year to be Co-President of the Tippecanoe Music Teacher’s Association. And along with that I was chairman of the June 2011 Monster Piano Concert in Lafayette. Area piano teachers combined students and 10 pianos on stage at the Long Center downtown.

I am content with my house and haven’t really done anything exciting there this year, although in April I had a fence built in the backyard. This allowed my roommate Sara Denny to get a dog, too. We found one at the Humane Society that they thought was part Australian shepherd and about 1 year old. She is bigger than Juju. Maddy has a leopard-like blue merle coat, and we think now that she is (at least in part) a Catahoula. Google it; that’s what she looks and acts like. She & Juju love to chase around the house.

It seems like I hardly see my sister Sarah who also lives with me since our work schedules don’t line up, but we enjoy Thursday night “family” nights and the opportunity to watch a movie or have a meal together when we can. We were all home for Christmas Eve & Christmas, which was very nice.

Our FCS family is trying to broaden our horizons, going outside our own little world and this year partnering with a school/orphanage in Uganda. Two teachers and 2 students visited it last summer. We were able to raise $1,000 for them for Christmas—which they planned to primarily spend on rice and beans. When I think of how much we take for granted here in America it reminds to me very thankful for how much I already have. I am reminded that life is not about WHAT we have; it’s about WHO we have and WHOSE we are.

I was tested in this on December 15 when my “new” (April 2011) aluminum MacBook Pro was stolen from my office at school. I had left it unattended for about an hour, charging on my piano bench, and when I came back the charger and the case were there but no laptop. So I reported it to the Sheriff and am currently exploring insurance options, but bottom line is that it’s gone and I will have to buy a new one. I am thankful I had given my white MacBook to my brother and he was kind enough to let me have it back until I find a replacement so I didn’t have to rush into a purchase. I just know God is doing something good from this and am so relieved to find that I was able to react correctly (I think)! These are just “first world problems” that cause me to remember not to hold too tightly to things of this world!

So in this new year, as God brings me to mind, would you pray that I would “grow deeper” in my love for the Lord and that this would be evidenced to those I come in contact with?

We cannot scratch the surface of Who God is and what He’s done for us. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Romans 11:33

Going Deeper in 2012!