Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Stake Conference Trauma-Drama (warning: long post - might get bored)

I know Trauma-Drama isn't a real word, but I feel like its the only way to describe an experience I had this past Stake Conference weekend. I also know that Stake Conference and either one of those words really shouldn't be in the same sentence, but hopefully after I explain, you won't blame me too much.And so it begins....A couple of weeks ago Dave and I attended a stake choir practice for the upcoming Stake Conference. When it was all over, I spent a few minutes taking to the stake music person, Maria. In the ensuing conversation she asked me if I would be willing to accompany a sister in the stake who Maria was trying to contact for a musical number to take place during the Adult Session Saturday night. She told me in the event that she got a hold of this sister, I would be receiving a phone call about what music I was to be playing. I readily agreed to help and thanked her for the opportunity to serve. Or so I thought...Nearly two weeks later I rememered the conversation we had, and realized nothing would be coming of it. That is, until I received a phone call that evening (Thursday night) around 8:00. It was a pleasant girl named Annie on the other line. She informed me she was the viola player I was to accompany that weekend. She brought the music over about a half an hour later and I promptly put it onto the piano to see what I had got myself into. The song of choice was Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. I LOVE this piece, but had never played it. On my first dry run I realized it was DIFFICULT. This arrangement was hard! At this point, I didn't know if I was going to learn the piece adequately by Saturday. I only had about ten minutes that evening before Dave and I had to go to his intramural volleyball game at 9:00, and then come back to quiet hours. Friday we were going to be gone all evening, and while Saturday was open, I had so many things I had to get gone I didn't know how to manage it all.I spent the next 48 hours finding sporadic pockets to pray and practice. After a near nervous breakdown or two, I finally felt like I could pull this off. At 4:00 on Saturday, Annie came over to practice. We went through it a number of times and it was a bit rough... we needed more practice together. When we were done I made a comment about going to the church to practice together sometime between 6:00 and 7:00 when the meeting was supposed to start. This is when Annie told me, "Oh, we don't play on Saturday, we play on Sunday!". I questioned it just a little because I thought I had heard Saturday, but she was confident Maria had told her it was for the Sunday session; this wasn't MY musical number after all, it was Annie's. We made plans to meet early and go through it a couple of times before the real deal on Sunday. She then told me that she was going to call Maria to make sure we had the right schedule figured out, and that I should plan on Sunday unless I heard from her in the next hour.When 6:40 rolled around, I was relieved to not be playing that evening, and left for the chapel. I asked Dave on the way out the door if I should grab my music to which he responded, "yeah, just in case".The meeting started and I was enjoying myself. Musical number, speaker, speaker, musical number, speaker, rest hymn. etc....President Clawson got up to announce the second half of the meeting; I heard some of what he had to say, but not all... "First, we will hear from so and so; President of the Sunday School, then we have a special musical number by Annie (something or other), and Melanie Crocker mprhg prgrhm, qrtsmmns, ghsbmuph, klscbth..." the rest was all mumbles. My head snapped up, my face started burning, I started sweating hot and cold, and my heart started pounding in my chest. "No!" I thought, "I'm not ready, I haven't practiced on this piano. I HAVE to practice on this paino!! The keyboard is lower, they keys are stickier, and I have to adjust to the sound!! We haven't practiced together here, and I don't even know is Annie is in attendance today!! I need to go through my solo's and the runs just a few more times. I need just a few minutes and then I can do it." Needless to say I was panicked! I hadn't even picked up on the fact that he called me Melanie Crocker as opposed to Melanie Crockett, one of my friends pointed that out later.I quickly stood up from my spot in the middle of the bench which was not-so-conveniently toward the front of the chapel and wiggled my way past the others sitting in my row with all the grace of a obese giraffe with music clutched in hand. I had spotted Maria when she came in earlier, so I went to her bench and rapidly explained the situation to her. She and her husband got up, left the chapel to try and race home, get Annie's number, call her, and get her to the chapel with her viola before the speaker said "Amen". The race was on. I spent the next ten minutes pacing the halls muttering incoherent things to myself, and praying they would move the number to the next day.My prayers were in vain; the next few minutes were kind of a blur, but somehow, right before the speaker sat down Annie, and her husband, and Maria and hers showed up and we gathered outside the door at the front of the chapel all leaning in to hear the end of this talk. Never before had I wanted a speaker to take more time; drag out his words, and inconvenience everyone. I wanted that now though; I wanted it really bad. Alas, the end came quickly, and we were only gathered for about a minute before we had to march in. Somehow I made it to the piano and managed to put the music up. Since Annie hadn't tuned her viola to that particular piano we spent a minute doing so which, I was grateful for. It gave me a minute to get my nervous bladder under control.We started... normally after about the first page my nerves would subside, and I could continue on with confidence. This was not the case; I was rattled to the point of shaky throughout the entire peice. Never before have I battled myself so fiercly; every note was hard fought for and every new line a seemingly insurmountable feat. My beautifully practiced piece did NOT turn out as I had so badly wanted and prepared for. In fact, I know I did much worse than anyone else probably realized, but nonetheless, we pulled it off. From what I hear we didn't do TOO bad, but I knew it wasn't too good either.It was over; I was a bag of nerves for the rest of the meeting, and gave up trying to listen to the last speaker.The next day I was so grateful to be singing in the stake choir amid multiple FABULOUS musicians and singers. In fact, I stood between two women with voices far superior to mine. What a relief!I do have to laugh when I think about the poor little family in our ward (whose name I won't mention) who accidently sent a fuzzy, neon/elmo red colored scripture case (with scriptures inside) flying off the balcony onto the congregation below. They were sitting toward the front where the speaker was, and 20-30 feet to fall is pretty far, so EVERYBODY saw it happen. Fortunately, next year, no one will remember who played or sang what at stake conference, but they will still be able to laugh at the fluffy red flying saucer. Thank you family; you probably didn't enjoy what happened (although the husband spent the next few minutes trying to supress his giggles), but I consider it a tender mercy!

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