“Take Piano Lessons”
On Saturday, March 29, 2014, I rose early to repeat that same routine once again. While nursing at that early hour, I prayed to inquire what my question should be that I might take to the temple that day for guidance. Immediately to my mind came “the piano question.” I knew what that meant as I had recorded a series of promptings in my “revelation record”- about 7 of them – over the course of the past month, directing me to take piano lessons, take piano lessons, take piano lessons. These were promptings that I acknowledged enough to record, yet not enough to act upon. I mentally argued that “this is not the right season,” “it would cost too much money,” “this would be a hardship of finances and time on my family” and “the timing just isn’t right!” So despite recording the promptings, I didn’t give any further heed to them.
In that moment of prayer, though, I knew I needed to obey the additional prompting to inquire of God if indeed I should begin taking piano lessons. I have committed to God that I will accept and act upon all of his assignments and personal commandments He gives to me if I know they are revealed. I am careful to not “make up” assignments and this question was NOT something I considered a good idea at the current time. Yet I knew I had to obey the process of prompting, ask and receive. What happened next though was my Jonah moment.
My Jonah Moment
I didn’t really like the question that came in response to prayer. I agreed mentally to write it down and take it to the temple with me, but I decided that I would choose another question to focus my mind upon while at the temple. I had never done that before, choosing a second question. So I wrote them both down and went about preparing for the session, focusing my thoughts upon the latter question, the one I “wanted” to focus upon. I think I figured that if I didn’t focus on the first question or give it any more spiritual power, prayer or meditation, that it would just die, go unanswered and therefore be proven non-revelatory. Thus, no piano lessons would be required.
Instead, I poured my heart, mind and spirit into question #2. I wanted to know how to help one of my children who was having some difficulty. I prayed hard over that child. I visualized his face and pleaded in prayer for his welfare, hoping for specific revelation to flow as to how I might facilitate positive change in his life. As I later focused my thoughts on receiving a divine flow of information to help this child, my mind was interrupted with words from the initiatory session that jolted me into a spiritual panic. The Spirit overcame me as I heard words spoken that my “hands would be made strong to perform all that shall be required of them.” I was so overcome that I began to weep.
Normally, when a moment of clear revelation bursts into my mind, I am filled with joy and excitement. This time was different, and I wept out of sheer terror, fear and anxiety. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach and my chest was heaving. I was having a hard time breathing. I had a hard time breathing for two hours after this experience. My extreme reaction was in response to the spiritual download that came partnered with the moment of revelation. The who, what, where, when, why and how of “take piano lessons” all came in a visionary flash of truth bursting upon my mind.
- Who: I had seen the image of who was to be the new instructor for the entire family.
- What: Begin taking lessons immediately and practice for at least an hour a day myself. I was also to elevate the culture of discipline and practice and commitment to developing talents among my children by having greater oversight and accountability.
- Where I needed to be: I needed to not only take lessons myself, but also participate in the kids’ lessons and be more aware of what they are learning, what the teacher is requiring and how they are progressing so that I can help improve the follow-through with their daily practice.
- When: NOW! Start practicing immediately and begin weekly lessons as soon as they can be arranged.
- Why: This was the most vague portion, and yet it was clear enough that it was the part giving me breathing trouble and anxiety. I had mini glimpses into future opportunities of our family performing together as a group and small groups. I wouldn’t be practicing exclusively for my own enjoyment or to set a positive example. I would be practicing to “perform.” My childhood fears and stage fright were resurfacing and just the thought of piano performance was shutting down my physical systems.
- How: Practice an hour each morning as part of our daily home school routine before lunch each day.
Sometimes when I have a revelatory experience, I doubt my receiving and seek a second confirmation to clarify and to be sure that what I think I received is indeed the right message from God. This time, I needed no such clarification. The message was so powerful and clear that I, like Jonah, couldn’t run or hide from it. I had tried to supersede the question with my own question, even focusing my thoughts elsewhere, and the Spirit had sent the assignment through to me despite my best attempts to ignore it.
And so, after the initiatory session, I recorded the information in my temple notebook. Then I went to the celestial room, as is my pattern. I marveled at what I had just experienced and I obtained comfort that, along with the assignment, divine aide would come. I had been promised that my “hands would be made strong.” I felt spiritual confidence that my portion was to commit to the lesson time and put in the practice time and the Lord would carry me from there.
Upon arriving home, I was still having a hard time breathing. I think my heart, mind and spirit were in a state of shock. I, like Jonah, could not hide or run away from the journey He intended me to travel. Unlike Jonah, I don’t yet know the destination of my path. I only know, undeniably, that for some purpose known to Him, I must obey and “take piano lessons.”
That afternoon, I sat down at our beautiful Hailun grand piano, opened up my daughter’s music books and began struggling through sight reading the right hand of a simple one-page piece composed by Bach. She showed me how to do “power fingers” with the first finger exercise in the Hannon book and reminded me how to do a C scale one and two octaves. That night, I downloaded several music theory apps and had a mini-lesson from Brigham on the circle of 5ths. The next day I contacted our new teacher. I was on my way to “Ninevah.”
A short time later, I spoke on the phone with this new teacher, whom I had seen in vision, and scheduled a family interview meeting with him at his home. When I first heard him identify himself as “doctor” on his voicemail, I assumed he was probably supplementing his professor salary with piano teaching on the side. I wondered if he taught English, history or maybe engineering? I was nervous when a Google search showed me that he was a professor of piano performance. I didn’t know he was such a big deal. It turns out that he’s not only a Ph.D. and a professor of music at a local university, but he mostly only works with high-level students in competitions and performing with orchestras.
Well, I sure felt silly for contacting him to teach our little family with fairly humble and average talents. I didn’t know how we would afford him, as he was WAY out of our price range! For us to take monthly lessons with him would cost more than our mortgage payment. Nonetheless, my experience at the temple that morning had been so significant and sure, I kept moving forward, propelled by faith alone.
We met with our teacher a few days later. He was gracious and complimentary to our children. We went over all of the details of possible lesson arrangements. He said we could begin taking lessons in May with his wife (who was also exceptionally talented at teaching piano) to keep costs down, with him supervising the instruction and providing a monthly lessons with each child taught by himself. It turns out that his wife had formerly had a highly sought-after full studio of piano students. She had stopped teaching as she had children. Now, after many children of her own, she was contemplating offering lessons again. How blessed we were to have had this divine intervention to lead us to their studio just as she was ready to accept new students, as it would have been impossible to afford her husband.
The kids and I celebrated our new piano beginnings by having cupcakes in the park by our piano store. We talked about what this would mean and how lessons and practicing would be different if we committed to lessons with our new “music mentors.” All of the 4 older children wanted to rise to the challenge, even though it would require GREAT commitment on their part.
As we began lessons, the task of practicing at the level our new piano experts were requiring was all-consuming. I was practicing 5 hours a day between my own practice and assisting my young children with theirs. Faith alone pushed and pulled me through those long practice days. I had no idea why I was doing this, only that it had been required of the Lord and I was absolutely certain of that. There was no other choice in my mind than to obey.
Little did I know that He was preparing me for the greatest financial blessing of my life, just on the horizon, and had I not obeyed this revelation, I would have missed it. More importantly, He was preparing me for the call he would soon give me to a life of service and stewardship that I could not yet conceive. It was just months away … if I would obey. The experiences prepared me for important aspects of launching Utah Piano Conservatory which gained nearly 150 students in the first year after opening. The Lord has beautiful foresight and is such a majestic conductor if we will just allow our selves to become instruments in his hands.