A Social Distance Duet

I love playing the piano. And playing the piano in collaboration with another musician is even better. It requires a whole new level of concentration. But it also provides a whole new level of enjoyment.

Not only am I reading and listening to my part, but I am also doing the same for the other instrument. One section on its own does not make sense. But when played at the same time, harmony in motion. Almost like two characters telling the same story from their own perspective.

Even though collaborative playing is one of my favorite ways to experience music, it has not been part of my life in more recent times. Right now, my professional life is more focused on teaching. Playing is mostly for my own enjoyment.

That is ok. I am not complaining, just setting the scene.

Here we are, many months of living during a worldwide pandemic. The school year ended strangely. So many plans put on hold. And just when it seemed things were improving, our numbers are on the rise again.

There are so many questions about the future. How long will this last? What will school look like? It is easy to feel anxious.

What better way to calm anxious thoughts than some musical collaboration?

My friend, Lisa, came over and brought her oboe. Lisa and I teach music in the same district. She is also a professional musician. We have talked many times about getting together and playing music.

What better time than during the middle of a pandemic?

My music room has glass doors that open up to the main entrance. So, we opened the doors and sat a chair and music stand in the entryway. That way, we could still maintain a social distance but also have a sightline.

We played music for almost two hours! The time flew by. My fingers got a workout, but my brain was at peace. The music was beautiful! And we had the perfect audience, my miniature dachshund, Poppy.

Poppy’s bed was placed between the piano and the oboe. She was perfectly still, relaxed in her bed the entire time. I think she approved.

Playing music did not erase our questions or concerns. But it did provide some moments of contentment. Music is powerful, therapeutic. And the therapy is even sweeter when it’s a social distance duet with a friend.


The Winter’s Passed by Wayne Barlow
Lisa Wagner, Oboe
Kelley Morris, Piano

Freedom in Forgiveness

Forgiveness may seem a surprising subject for the Fourth of July. But somehow, this year, it seems more appropriate than ever before.

Yesterday, I watched the film version of the musical Hamilton. My daughter and I saw the traveling production last year in Tulsa. I was overwhelmed by its brilliance. Not only in the music creativity but also the messages it so powerfully portrayed.

It tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers. A life filled with tragedy I cannot begin to imagine. A past he worked to overcome. A desire to leave behind a world better than the one in which he lived.

The film version was no less powerful. I was barely able to contain my emotions through the entire production. And just as with the live show, my thoughts quickly turned to another musical, Les Miserables.

Though many similarities may be drawn between Hamilton and Les Miserables, one speaks above the rest-forgiveness. These moments in each story provide a beautiful reminder of how great the need for each of us.

There is much more to be discovered in this story-in both of these stories. But on this July 4, 2020, forgiveness seems to be the place to start. For both receiving it and giving it bring freedom.

If you have not yet seen Hamilton, it would be a perfect way to celebrate!

It's Quiet Uptown

Written by
Lin-Manuel Miranda

Alexander by Eliza’s side
She takes his hand
It’s quiet uptown
Forgiveness.
Can you imagine?

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12

Wasted Time

Shh-be quiet
Listen closely to
The falling rain
Some might say
It’s wasted time
But that rain has
A story to tell
A fantastic tale
Of drops filling
Fluffy white clouds
Until no matter how
Hard it tries,
That fluff can no
Longer hold the weight
The clouds give up
And the raindrops
Begin their free-fall
At first, racing
To the ground
But then landing
In perfect rhythm
Life-giving music
Serenading as it
Waters the earth
Providing a drink
For the flower
Sending relief
For the dry ground
Shh-be quiet
Listen closely to
The falling rain
It’s not wasted time
By the time
It can be heard
Its story is just beginning

Rhythm of the Falling RainThe Cascades

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain
Telling me just what a fool I’ve been
I wish that it would go and let me cry in vain
And let me be alone again
Oh, listen to the falling rain
Pitter patter, pitter patter
Oh, oh, oh, listen to the falling rain
Pitter patter, pitter patter

One Hundred

I love seeing birthday celebrations for those who’ve made it to one-hundred. A century is a log time-so many things to witness and experience. These individuals always seem to have a funny, yet wise piece of advice. Two I recently read were-just keep going and take naps. ❤

Birthday Wish

I always say
I’d like to live
At least a
Hundred years
Since I’m over
Half-way there
The thought doesn’t
Seem so strange
My family would plan
A great big party
Biggest cake
You’ve ever seen
With one hundred
Sparkling candles
Lighting up
The entire room
Sitting at the piano
I’d play a familiar tune
As party guests loudly sang
Happy birthday to me!
I’d blow out all the candles
And make my birthday wish
A hundred-year-old hope
For lasting peace and rest

100 Years-Five for Fighting
I’m ninety nine for a moment
Dying for just another moment
And I’m just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are
Fifteen there’s still time for you
Twenty two I feel her too
Thirty three you’re on your way
Every day’s a new day
Fifteen there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose
Hey fifteen, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got hundred years to live

Hearts Breaking

Sometimes
Silence
Is not an
Option
Yet, this day
Words
Fall
Flat
And though
Emotions
Run
High
Attempts at
Expression
Feel
Numb
On this day
Notes
Speak
Loudly
Only as
Music
Plays
Softly
In this moment
It is my
Obligation
To hear
The cries
Of tired
Hearts
Breaking

First Loss
Album for the Young
Robert Schumann

This Road

The road
Once clear
Now obstructed
By unexpected
Roadblocks
Detours
Up ahead
Which way to go?

A new road
Comes into view
Along with
A new role
Not the one
Expected
Or desired-yet,
Gracefully accepted

Potholes trigger
Full stops…
But, gentle truths
Faithfully
Push forward
Erasing any
Thought of
Turning back

Moving ahead
A quiet whisper
Provides assurance-
Trust and follow
Nothing can take you
Out of my hand
Don’t turn back
This road is best

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” Isaiah 49:16

Take me Home, Country Roads by John Denver

The Poets Symphony-Book Release

It’s almost here! May 15 is the official release date for The Poets Symphony: Verses, Melodies, and Lyrical Poems! Thank you, Tara Caribou, for including my poems in this beautiful collection! Paperbacks available on the 15th.  

Pre-order the e-book here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086W3QLP5

Here is a sneak peek from my writing included in the collection.

Longevity

Picture me, almost seven
Stringy hair in my eyes
Sitting at the piano
As Grandma smiles
Hands on keys, eyes on notes
Melodies flowing clear
Sharing music from my heart
Though young in years

Younger Me

...Scars that form 
On the inside
Remain hidden
Unless shared
Don't be afraid
To express them
Through music
Through words...

Impressions

First impressions
Mysteries
Unfinished pictures
Incomplete
Look closer
Each individual
A series of chapters
A personal story
Brushstrokes
In a painting
Notes
In a song
Carefully pieced together-
A masterpiece
Viewed separately-
Misunderstood
Understanding
Requires willingness
To trust
And be trusted
Shines light
On the fragments
Solves the puzzle
Reveals the person
Truly knowing
Takes time
But, oh, what joy
To understand
To experience
A beautiful mystery
The soul who leaves
A lasting impression

Debussy Prelude No. 8, La Fille aux cheveux de lin

In Tune

Last week a piano technician came and tuned my new piano. Even though it is a beautiful new instrument, there are several reasons it needed tuning. Being moved to a new location. Sitting in a different space, with different temperatures, on a different type of floor. All factors that affect the way it sounds.

I listened as the technician worked. She listened to such tiny details. The way she would tune one note to its octave counterpart. When I played those notes together in a chord, I didn’t notice that they were out of tune. But hearing her pick them all apart, it was obvious.

The mechanics of a piano are fascinating. My explanation to students is usually simplified. Your finger presses down the key, which causes a hammer inside the piano to strike a string producing the sound.

Watching my piano being taken apart, actually viewing the insides, gave me a new perspective. Each piece has its place and must be perfectly aligned to produce a high-quality sound. Even a new piano needs time to adjust and sometimes requires a little assistance.

One thing stood out above the rest, voicing. I asked the technician about adjusting the voicing, making it a little less bright. Basically, taking the edge off of the sound. She explained that part of that process involves the felt material on the hammers.

A needle is used to soften the felt. When done correctly, it does not damage the material. It just slightly changes the way the hammers strike the strings.

Once the piano was put back together, I sat down to play. Wow! What a difference. Not only was it in tune, but it also had a much warmer tone. The sharp edge had been softened.

This experience made me think about my life. What if I’m in a new place, with new surroundings, expectations, and people? What if my reaction is one of fear or frustration? My words may sound edgy, sharp, or out of tune.

Like the felt on those hammers, something inside me needs to be softened. An adjustment might come in the form of an honest word from a trusted friend. Yes, stings for a moment. But the sting will not last if accepted with grace. The knowledge that someone loves me that much, however, is lasting.

Hopefully, as I continue playing my piano, I will be reminded to check my own tone. And will gracefully accept any needed adjustments to keep me in-tune with my husband and children, family and friends, the world around me.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17

Schumann Arabesque Opus 18. One of my favorite piano pieces. Only the beginning theme and the conclusion. ❤