My mother was a wannabe pianist. She worked so hard at it. She took lessons as an adult and practiced diligently. She even had quite a few beginner students of her own over the years. Because she loved the piano and desired to achieve a high level of accomplishment, even vicariously, she made sure that each of her five children took lessons.
Out of all the siblings, my sister by far met and exceeded our mom’s expectations, and she has used her keyboard skills quite frequently. Me? Not so much. I didn’t like to practice, and I quit when I was a young teenager, much to the consternation of my teacher/mother. Yes, I have deeply regretted that decision throughout my life.
Ever since I was a small girl, I have always gravitated to the interesting phenomenon of singing and how the voice works (instead of piano). Call me a rebel, but it is what it is. The pull was unmistakable, for I joined every available choir, and I wanted to sing with every group that I could find.
I sang my first solo in church at age 11. I had no idea what I was doing, but it actually went fairly well. I can’t remember the name of the song, but it was probably out of one of The Favorites books. That initial taste of ministering to people whet my appetite to do more. In my early twenties I joined a traveling Christian musical-drama group that presented programs in churches. That group helped me develop my voice in a foundational way.
I was called out of darkness into His marvelous light when I was 13 years old. As I grew in the Lord, I made a promise to Him that I desired to sing only for Him. There were things I could do with my voice, but I wanted to keep it narrowly focused. I’m not saying a person can’t sing in different contexts and still sing for the Lord, but for me, that is what I wanted to do. I believe God has blessed me in that endeavor through the years.
When my husband and I moved to the Minneapolis area in 2015, the opportunity arose to audition for Deo Cantamus, which means “To God We Sing.” I have relished every second of singing with this chorale. I want to sing for God. I want God to use my voice for His glory. Even though I’ve sung in many choirs over the years, there is nothing that compares to Deo Cantamus. It is a sublime experience for me to participate with high-caliber musicians, communicating God’s truths in a creative setting.
Deo Cantamus event weekends are highlights in my year. We have had the privilege of housing several singers because they live outside of the Minneapolis area, and that has been a huge personal blessing to have had them in our home. Our lives are much richer after hosting and getting to know these singers.
Sadly, my mother passed from this earth far too soon for her to see me fully use my voice for the Lord, but I know the musical framework she gave me as a child has helped me in ways that I can’t even count.
Because He created me, I love music and I love to sing. Because of Jesus, He has given me salvation. Because of Deo, I have a precious opportunity to sing for Him and I have been challenged vocally to give my all. Because of the director’s kind encouragement, I am taking voice lessons again.
No, my piano playing hasn’t significantly improved. I know just enough to be dangerous on the keyboard, and I will probably never advance past the intermediate level. But it is enough so I can land on the right key to start a piece and play an accompaniment in those tender moments when I’m pouring out my heart to Him in song. Or to practice for Deo.