Many of you know that I am a perfectionist. I like to get things exactly right the first time. Unfortunately, I have the tendency to avoid things that I don’t think I can do just right. In the new year, I have a uncharacteristic desire to try something new, even if that means I cannot do it perfectly.
I have been taking harp lessons again with a new teacher. At my first lesson, she mentioned she likes to teach how to arrange music. I had never tried to arrange anything. My friends who could play anything by ear always left me mystified. I am not very creative, but I can follow instructions really well. I have always relied on finding the best music and then learning to play it just like it is written. I decided to step out and try arranging a song since I had a willing teacher. I chose to start with I Wonder As I Wander (a nice minor key Christmas carol). It took me several weeks just to come up with a brief intro, interlude, and conclusion with little variation to the left hand (bass clef). It was hard to get started and there were several times when I kind of looked at my harp and looked at the blank staff paper and wondered if it would be easier to just write some notes down and then play them and keep trying until I hit on something. I finally got out a simple arrangement and even used some music writing software so that it looks like published music. You know what? I like it. I have decided I want to continue arranging in the new year with the help of my teacher. Even though it isn’t my natural bent, I hope it will get a little easier each time and I will be a little more satisfied with the result each time. I definitely have already learned a lot more about music theory and how written music works on the page just after one song. I had hardly ever thought about arranging my own songs before and definitely not composing, but now I even have that in the back of my mind. It might be a few years away, but it could happen.
Apart from the new things I want to do this year, I will also be doing some things that I am more used to. I am going to be helping my church with a free English conversation club that is available to the internationals in our area. I am excited to get to meet new people and to brush up on my ESL skills. I also want to continue blogging and write more fiction this year.
I encourage you to try something new, even if you try it and don’t like it or if you don’t stick with it the whole year. Remember that even if you fall short of your goal or fail utterly, a step forward is still significant and you can learn as much from failure as success.
Photo credit to Lauren Brouillette
This week, I overwhelmed myself by looking at grad schools on line. I was not so much overwhelmed by the thought of going to school again (I would actually enjoy that), but of the weight of trying to decide if I really do need to go to grad school, what field of study I really want to follow, and how far I should be thinking ahead to pay for it if I decide to go. Then, as I was reminded this week in an e-mail, I prayed about it because I know that God would take care of it and prepare me for the next step in time. I have never prayed earnestly for something and been disappointed by the result.
As a reminder to myself, and as an encouragement to my readers, here are two stories of God’s faithfulness in the little things. The more I think about it, they are not out-of-the-ordinary for my life, but God is a great story creator so I hope I can be a faithful storyteller so that He gets the credit. Firstly, the past five months I did not have a harp, but was content with that because I was still adjusting to living on my own, Mexican culture, and my first year of teaching. In November, I started asking some of my musical friends if they knew any harpists or had any possible contacts to other musicians. No harps or harpists turned up. About a week after I got back from Christmas break, I had to take a trip to the ATM. It is about a 20 minute walk and part way there I realized that I had forgotten my PIN number and had to walk back to get it before continuing to the ATM. When I was almost home from the trip, and just when I was grumbling that withdrawing money for my rent should not take more than an hour of my time, I see a man unloading a harp from his car, almost right across the street from the school. I ran across the street and introduced myself and told him that I also played the harp. He gave me his contact information and has been helping me try to find a Celtic harp that I can borrow. In the meanwhile, he is letting me borrow his smaller Mexican harp since he usually only needs the large one when he performs. When he brought it over, he also brought his wife and three little boys to meet me. Apparently he already knows my landlady. The harp I am borrowing has a good number of strings, but none of them are color-coded and it only plays in one key. I am still trying to get the hang of it and so far I have not been able to play any of my songs, but I am working on it and it is so nice to have a musical instrument again. I am also so thankful to have another contact with a neighbor family!
Secondly, I realized in October that I really wished I had a good cardigan for the chilly mornings when it was still too warm for a coat. I was hoping for something functional, long sleeve, a dark neutral color, etc. so I asked for one for Christmas. My mom got me one, but it did not fit, so she gave me some money to buy one when I got back here. Those of you who know me know that I do not like spending money on myself and especially not for new clothes (when I do shop it is usually second hand and there really are not many second hand options in Guadalajara). Then I realized that one of my few long sleeve shirts had some holes in it that I could not fix. So I thought, well I can practice being more minimalist or I must succumb and get at least another shirt and a cardigan. The very next day when I came into work, my coordinator handed me a bag with some clothes in it just saying that she thought they looked like me. I did not even look in the bag until I got home. Two long sleeve shirts that I really liked and fit me well and… and dark navy cardigan that was almost exactly what I had envisioned, with the tag still on. Thank you, God! He does not disappoint.
Photos are mine.