Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reaching Eighth

My hands hurt from clapping. I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. I was just too happy. Jana's words kept repeating in my head. That eighth grade piano exam was finally over. It had been over an hour long on the day. And so many more hours over the year, in preparation.

On the way home, Mum and I recapped over the experience of reaching this event. I kept seeing how God had pulled it together for me in so many different ways.

I start remembering... after my last exam over a year ago, on request, a music teacher friend sent photocopies of different works from the syllabus list, for the grade. With the suggestions of hers and our local teacher, we picked out my program. List A - Prelude and Fugue in C Major, by Bach. List B - Theme and Variations Sonata K331, Mozart. List C - Waltz in F minor, Chopin. List D - La Cathedrale Engloutie, Debussy. I tried learning them myself, but felt a bit overwhelmed at the sight of a variation of mostly demi-semiquavers and hemi-demi-semiquavers too. How do you play that fast?

I went to stay with my big sister, Danica to help during her pregnancy, to help look after her boys. (The help came in handy, when she had morning sickness.)
My music and schoolwork came in my briefcase. I went to practise at the neighbours everyday. Aunty Celia was concerned about my teacher-less-ness. She even threatened/offered to call around herself for me. That motivated me.

I searched and rang around for teachers. Didn't teach my grade. Too expensive. Too busy. Not keen. Nothing gelled. Then a thought popped into my head. Molly lived in the area and had a piano teacher. I called them up, and got her mother. She told me about the darling elderly lady who had taught Molly. "She was more than happy to teach Molly just hymns." Umm, not really what I need. Not sounding the most promising. She gave me the number, and I called her as a last option.
"I'm doing 8th grade piano. Do you think you can help me?"
"I haven't taught it in about ten years, but I have done my associate." Hmm.
"What is your program?" she asked.
I rattled it off, and I could hear the excitement build on her end.
"Yes, Mozart has some terrible timing tricks doesn't he." Indeed, he did!
"Oh, The Sunken Cathedral, you say? I know that one back to front. I'd love to teach it to you."
Sounding good! "When could we have a lesson?" she asked.
"Tomorrow morning?" I asked.
It was already taken, actually a good thing, Danica couldn't do it either. We slotted in the next day.
We rolled up her driveway that morning. When I left, I knew it was a smashing succes. So began the twice a week (or three times) lessons, which went for up to three hours. Intense learning. And sprinkled profusely throughout with lots of laughing. She was a fun teacher. And a good one. She gave me the foundations.
She gave me the originals for my program too.

Being able to practise every single day for 2-3 hours at the dear neighbors made progress happen, speedily. And in the meantime, I adopted them as my grandparents. Chatting to them was the highlight of going there and practising. 'Grandma' taught me how to knit too. I loved that. I even tried knitting in the dark as I sung the boys to sleep. It didn't look very wonderful in the light though.

Then Malcom, a fellow teacher-friend of Aunty Colleen's gave me a list of the scales that I needed to work on. I was set. He helped in the learning of the pieces too.

Julie here at home, gave me regular help and encouragement.

We did the Eisteddfod this year. A week prior to it, I had a lesson with an examiner to prepare. The examiner mentioned another piano teacher of note. My fourth grade theory exam was the following day after the Eisteddfod, and we arranged a lesson with Julee. She encouraged me to memorise my Debussy and helped with my touch. God used her to fill a big need. General knowledge. She generously emailed me copious amounts of relevant and necessary information on composers, periods and pieces. I spent hours trying to memorise it all. (I didn't succeed. At least not all of it, there was over ten pages worth!)

Following in hot succesion, was an interstate lesson. Wendy motivated me to work on my technical more. She spent time doing aural with me. She told me I could do it.

Weeks of olive harvesting by hand.

(Jana's hard work of 20 kgs at once. We didn't try that a lot. It hurt too much, having 20 kilos hanging from one's neck for over an hour.)

Yours truly, picking. :)

The evening of my exam day, my doe kidded for the first time.

I got the exam notice in the mail a month before the date. Practise became a more regular and necessary event. In my Mozart though, there was a trouble spot. During a visit to Bethany's we contacted a local piano teacher who was a long-time friend. Mum thought it would take 15 minutes. Instead it was two and a half intensive hours. Ranging from technical (scales) to technical piece problems. *grin* Poor Beth fell asleep on the lounge. The lesson left me feeling confident. And jubilant. She'd helped me master my bug-bear.

Following day, I had a mock exam with the afore-mentioned examiner. The previous day's lessons had revealed mistakes to correct. Just, with only time spent in the car in-between, it wasn't possible. I did shockingly at the mock exam. Shook me up, for sure. I hadn't done any aural since the interstate lesson two months before. So that was bad. I felt discouraged and challenged. Challenged to nullify all the constructive criticism he'd given. The last two weeks I worked on it. (Thanks Cherith and Jana for washing up so I could practise!)

Then came one of the finishing miracles. My local music teacher didn't have the aural for my grade. Another music teacher, offered to photocopy from her book. She posted it to us. And the sight reading. Having that, made aural no longer impossible. Julie showed me how to work on it at home.
The night before the exam, as I lay in bed, I talked to God. "I've done my best Father, please do the rest. Help me get a good mark please!"
Many people prayed for me. I know God heard the prayers. Seeing how he has helped me reach my goal, I can't help but think fondly of the promise claimed and fulfilled, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:4,5

Jana's shouted announcement is replaying in my mind again. "You got an A!"

I can't wipe the grin off my face.

Read also, The Pulse.


  1. aww.. loved reading this blog post Sis! So proud of you!

  2. Dear Christy, your post brought tears to my eyes...happy tears :) I loved reading your post...Love you <3 *smile*


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