Monday, February 18, 2008

Playing in Spanish

Our Spanish ministry had a need for a piano player, so another lady and I are sharing the duties, every couple of weeks. Now, after 30+ years of playing piano in a multitude of ministry situations, you'd think that this would be a piece of cake--no special music, just show up and accompany congregational singing. It's true that there is no preliminary stress. However, it is very unnerving to read music from a hymnbook when everything is written in Spanish. I never realized how much a pianist depends on the words just to keep context. In English, if the song is "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," as soon as I see the title I know exactly where to go on the keys and can play it without even having a book in front of me, in G or A flat, probably in E flat, F, or just about any key--take your pick. However, when the title and all the words are foreign, I have to hunt and peck for a measure or two just to know what the song is! And even then, there is no reinforcement of where we are in the song by just glancing at the words. So it is stretching my capabilities.

I tell people that they won't let me play in English any more, just Spanish. :-) That's because there's no early service any more, so technically I've been "laid off" from playing in regular church. But it's interesting for an English teacher to be brought to her knees by a lack of understanding of the language being used. Yesterday the pastor handed me a little Valentine gift for helping. I had to ask his wife to tell me what the note said. That is humbling!

Yesterday, while playing the song on the right side of the page, I glanced at the left and saw Mas Alla de Sol. That's the song that Andrew and I, in Mexico with our church/school group nine years ago, absolutely loved hearing the Mexicans sing--and we've never been able to find it since then. He will be as pleased as I was.

The people in Spanish church are very friendly. I've not been able to talk with them, not only because of the language barrier, but because I only stay for the music. But there are a couple of ladies, in their late 20's or early 30's, who always smile at me with their hearts, if you know what I mean. Yesterday one of them who I'd not seen in a couple of weeks made eye contact with me during the announcements and waved at me across the fellowship hall. She's my friend.


Anonymous said...

After playing for our service yesterday a.m. I told one our instrumentalists that it takes me a couple of measures to get in the song--and that's in English!

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, the Spanish church music minister wanted to see if I could play a song if he sung it to me. I agreed and he started to sing it in Spanish. I fumbled around and I finally asked him to sing it in English if possible. Once he did it was like I was a different piano player - I got it immediately. It's funny how your mind works, I guess. :-)

Barry Cater said...

That is why I encourage so strongly my girls to stick with their piano lessons - you never know when or where those skills are going to be needed.