Monday, June 2, 2014

Musical Monday, Gymnopedie

This week's feature, Gymnopedie No. 1  by Eric Satie, is a song that is very hard to conquer. I have only played this song beautifully, the way it was intended, once. It is not a complicated song by any means and not difficult to play, but it is very difficult to feel. There are many recordings of this online and I guess I'll add mine to the hodge podge now. It's not the best, but hey, you asked for my music.

Below, is a blog post that I wrote about this song but never published for some reason.


I have played piano for thirteen years and played at church for four. I have had lessons once a week for ten or eleven years. Music is a undeniable part of me akin to a leg or arm. Here in Florida I have lessons on Friday mornings with a talented teacher, Mr. Andzulis. Two weeks ago he assigned me to a new piece called Gymnopedie No. 1 by Erik Satie. The instructions, Lent et Douloureux, were written in the top left of the page. Of course I didn't know what that meant so I typed the words into Google Translate, Slow and Painful was the result. Now that was daunting.

I have never considered the emotion of pain when playing music. You'd think I would have, after all there has been a lot of pain in my life, but mostly that manifested as anger and despair. For me, anger and despair, when I did let it peak through, came out in my music as complex and intense clangs of minor chords, frenzied cadences, and haunting melodies. Always in my music there was a tone of defiance. The simple defeated feeling of pain, never occurred to me. To simply accept pain without a fight was a foreign concept. Yes despair and pain are very similar, but to me despair has a feeling of knowing you're broken and beaten, yet hating it all the while. Pain is just defeat. So for me to play painfully was something entirely new.

I sat down at my keyboard and put the piece in front of me. First I familiarized myself with the notes which didn't take long. The rest of the week I worked on getting that painful feeling. It just wasn't working. I looked up some recordings of it on YouTube and didn't find anything satisfactory at all. All week long I labored over that song, trying to feel the pain, but I just couldn't. Finally Friday came again and I returned to lessons. When it came time to play the song, I got it out reluctantly and began.

As I hit the first few notes, suddenly a barrage of feelings came over me. Butterflies beat their wings in my stomach, my entire body felt shaky, my breathing was shallow, and my heart felt constricted. Half way through the song, my eyes welled up with tears. My teacher left my mind entirely, and it was only me and the music. Slowly, painfully, the song came to a close. I held the last tones till they faded. My hands returned to my lap and I felt as if I had just made a great effort. I sat defeated. My teacher sat in silence a moment. It was perfect, he had nothing to say about it. I am not sure if I would want to repeat the experience, it was painful.

Now you may think I am making a big deal over this. It really is a simple song, but for me this was a watershed moment. I have played piano with tears streaming down my face before, but I was crying when I began. This was something entirely different. This song proved to me how powerful music is.

Music is alive.
Music speaks in ways words never could.
Music opens the soul.

God brought music to life and infused it with His power, he poured His soul into it and locked it up. He has given us the key, through voice, piano, violin, guitar and every manner of instruments to unlock it. Through music we have a direct connection to Him. Through music our heart is laid bare to Him. God has given us an absolutely overwhelming gift. To express ourselves when we find words inadequate, to pour out our emotions and let God pick them up is a privilege like no other. God gave us music to prepare ourselves for war. He gave us a song to sing when we are filled with joy. He gave us fun beats to jam out to and He gave praises for us to sing. God hears us and delights in our music. Just as we are pleased to see someone using the gift we gave them so is he pleased when we use His gift of music.

So in all our music, whether it be hymns, contemporary Christian, classical, pop, jazz, country, and yes, I think even Christian rap has its place, whatever kind of music let us always praise Him.

Lent et Douloureux

If a song moves you to tears - thank God.


Now, as for what I have been doing this past week, I'd have to say music and more music. That's pretty much it. Play piano, do my school. Oh, and I became a fan of Star Trek. I have watched too many of those in bed at night this past week....

Tuesday we had guest stay the night. They are a part of the Candle in The Window hospitality network I have spoken of in the past. They were a family of four. Dad and Levi had a men's meeting to go to so it was just us girls and Jubal most of the time. We took the oldest on a walk with us down the bike trail and showed him the local peculiarities. Like the place people throw pumpkins, and the overgrown horse path, and the sensor that counts traffic, and the tunnels that drain water underneith the path, and where the road that goes to the farm that has the donkey is. We showed him particular dips in the ground that the dogs like to romp in when they're full of water, and where we normally see the rabbits, and the map of course. Later that night after supper we introduced Simon to the game Apples to Apples. I was astonished to find he had never played it before!

My little sister turned sixteen last Thursday. I was babysitting that night so we had to postpone the celebration until the next night. Friday, Mom made a sponge cake with custard filling and whipped cream on top. She cut strawberries and arranged them on the top of the cake to make the number sixteen. Along the sides Mom put more strawberries and banana slices.

Saturday we had some friends over for a cook out. Dad and Mr. Mike grilled burgers and chicken which were really yummy with guacamole. The children had a lot of fun playing together and even got to go swimming in the kiddie pool for a short while until it started pouring down rain. I painted little Emma's fingernails a sparkly sea blue color that reminded me of mermaids.

Yesterday was Sunday. The Smiths invited us to go sailing with them after church. We had a lot of fun swimming and jumping off the boat. Levi swung off a rope tied to the mast, when he did the whole boat lurched. I managed to dig up a clam from the sand, Bethany got five.

My Grandma came over to visit today. I showed her the new dress that I bought, it is a red and white one from the 1950's. She was very pleased with it and said she though the 50's had some of the prettiest dresses. That brings me to another thing, lately I have been infatuate with what is called "vintage" fashion. I am sure if I had told Grandma my dress was vintage she would have found that amusing and said I must think that she is vintage too!

So I guess I haven't really been doing only music, but it feels like it! Maybe I have just been thinking about music a lot.

Until next week, blessings!

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