Saturday, January 31, 2009

Music Lessons

One of these days, I'd like to write a book entitled Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from My Music Teacher. I started taking piano and organ lessons from Sr. Theresita when I entered the monastery. I apply what I learn not only to the pieces I play, but also to life.

The first chapter would be called "Slow Down." If Sr. Theresita has told me once . . . . or if she had a nickle for every time. . . . you know the rest.

One time I was playing a piece for what we called The Sisters' Recital. I must have been a little nervous because my fingers literally could not keep up. I had to stop in the middle and humbly wave my hands in the air above my head. It got a good laugh. I started again, but unfortunately kept the same tempo. Somehow I managed through to the last chord. Someone later told me I should have slowed down. For whatever reason, that had never occured to me at that moment even though I had heard it many times before.

I have learned that even though I want to play things faster, I can't start out at that tempo. I can hear Sr. Theresita now saying, "If you can't play it slow, you won't be able to play it at the tempo it's marked." Maybe I get impatient or have expectations too high for myself. I sit down at the piano and away I go. Or at least, away I want to go. I sometimes forget that there are lots of steps I have to take before reaching the final product.

Slowing down is such a necessity of life. Our lives get hectic and overwhelming. "Slow down," I can hear Sr. Theresita say. Notice what is. Look things over before you jump right in. Slowing down can also be interpreted as "Be gentle on yourself." I know I have lots to learn, but can't expect to learn it all overnight.

Here at the monastery, our prayer life slows us down and calls us back to what is truly important. The Liturgy of the Hours frames our day. We pray morning prayer and evening prayer together. We also pray midday prayer. It's usually about 10 minutes and helps us stay focused on God and the reason why we work. The pace of prayer calls us to slow down. We pause after each line so as to truly absorb the words and let them wash over us. There's a steady rhythm and tempo to our prayer that's contrary to the tempo our lives usually take with demanding careers and hectic schedules.

Because of our fast paced lives, it's necessary to slow down throughout the day and be aware of the present moment. If we don't take time to slow down, how can we ever live life at the required tempo. I think I would end up waving my hands in the air above my head all the time. I'd find it all overwhelming and get frustrated at my inability to keep up - even if it's just trying to keep up with myself.

Thanks, Sr. Theresita. After all your repetition, I am aware of my need to slow down. I tell myself that all the time when I play the piano and as I go through my day. Sometimes I get impatient and long for the finished product at the beginning. I know there are lots of steps in between, however, so I may need to be reminded some more. Knowing something and actually doing it are 2 different things.

Keep reading for future chapters. How about Patience, Perseverence, and (my least favorite, but something Sr. Theresita tells me all the time) Work on the Hard Things First. Tomorrow's chapter - Play Hands Separately.

1 comment:

  1. Amen, Sister Catherine! I think you're totally right on about how we have to slow down and pray every so often in order to live the rest of life at the required tempo. What a good image.