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Poof! You are now a Pianist!

Never volunteer in the military or church

By Tina D'AngeloPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
Poof! You are now a Pianist!
Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

When our pastor asked, "Who here can read music?"

I thought it was a pretty innocent question, so I raised my hand, having played flute and piccolo for many years in a previous lifetime. Apparently, I was the only one foolish enough to raise my hand, because that very gesture inadvertently promoted me to church pianist on the spot.

"Good, because Laura is ill quite frequently and she needs someone to play the piano for her when she is out sick."

"What? I don't play piano. I play the flute. The piano is completely different."

"Oh, don't worry, just play what you can."

Dear Lord, what have I gotten myself into this time? That evening brought about the next ten years of anxiety-filled weekends, dreading Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evenings. I could play the melody line just fine on a piano because I could, indeed, read music. At least the treble clef. That other one? That was a complete mystery to me. I had no idea where to put my left hand, even though my right could fly right along through the hymns. Even working with a talented piano teacher didn't make it easy for me to learn that other clef.

You know all those people in the church who did not raise their hands to admit they could read music? Well, let me tell you, some of them became music experts overnight, informing me that they were going to take lessons and relieve me of my duties. Except none of them ever did. Even the ones, as I was to find, who actually did know how to play the piano and had a piano at home to at least practice on.

The regular church members who criticized my awkward playing were the same ones who knew I had to start learning from scratch while performing in front of a live audience every week. They were simply annoying. The worst experience of my days at the piano bench, however, was when a disgruntled, in-between churches pastor plopped his fat arse down in a pew with his miserable family. He was to become my worst nightmare for the following two years. Dear Lord, the man caused me to curse out loud during an Easter morning service.

Not that I didn't do that regularly under my breath during that trying time. But, out loud? During the Easter sunrise service?

Mr. Music Man, the disgruntled ex-pastor, announced to my pastor that it sounded as if our church needed a "real" music program. Our pastor had been doing a pretty good job at leading our poor, meandering choir along. Mr. Music Man had decided to replace him and also replace me with his 14-year-old creepy-looking son, whose hands always felt sticky when we had to shake hands. I should have been happier about losing my coveted position. There was just something about the way all this came about that was offensive and I was not giving up my piano bench to that pubescent jerk. He would have to pull it out from under me before I'd let him tickle my ivories.

Let the dirty tricks begin!

Because I was reluctant to give up the spot I ended up in, Mr. Music decided to choose the music the week before the service and only give his son the song list, leaving me to find my way through three sharp melodies that I'd never even heard before. Give me flats. They are something I can handle. But I have to always work backward to figure out the sharps. Fortunately, when I played flute I was very good at sight reading and it translated to my piano playing.

When that failed to work my nemesis decided to present me with a do-or-die on the Easter Sunrise service. He pulled the unfamiliar sheet music out of his arse and placed it on the piano for me. When I looked at him as though he had three eyes he stated the obvious, "Seeing as how you didn't practice the music this week I'll just have my son play the piano this morning. You go play the organ."

"Uh, uh. I don't know how to play the organ. I don't even know how to turn it on."

"It's the same as the piano. It has little black keys and white keys." This he announced to the church on the microphone.

I'm glad he had the microphone though because I replied, "Hell, no. I'm not going to fucking play the organ, you creep."

I could see my pastor's wife in the choir covering her mouth to stifle a giggle at that. Which was gratifying. See what you get when you assign an ex-stripper to play your church piano? I was ready to whip my high heels at Mr. Music.

That morning I was not the only person he was going to humiliate. He had the entire congregation in his sights. Not only was he going to teach them a new hymn. He was going to make them learn to sing it in a round, totally confusing the hell out of everyone and generally making a mess out of the entire service.

By the time my dear pastor began his sermon, his face was growing redder by the second and I thought there might have been a fistfight behind the pulpit. At the end of our Easter service, my pastor realized Mr. Music Man was up to no good and he slowly regained control of our 'pathetic music program'. When the musical genius and his family found themselves falling by the wayside they moved on to greener pastures.

The last time I heard he was preaching in his garage to his relatives but his son was playing the piano.


About the Creator

Tina D'Angelo

Coming in 2023, G-Is for String. A memoir about life in the dance lane during the 1970s and 80s. By dancing, I'm talking exotic. Romances, running, and surviving. On the way to the publisher!

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (2)

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  • HandsomelouiiThePoet (Lonzo ward)3 months ago


  • Donna Fox3 months ago

    The irony of a place so holy full of such judgey people. Always so quick to criticize those you volunteer but never willing to be the volunteer themselves. I love that even though this was a slightly humiliating story, you still found a way to insert humour!

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