All my life, I have adored music. I played the flute from 5th grade through my freshman year in college. Then I met my husband, and he convinced me to switch to choir. I sang in the top choral group for 3 years and a smaller group for 4, continuing during graduate school. My husband and I both sang with a community chorus for a couple years as well. Of course, we sing in church, and all three of our kids have found some level of enjoyment with music, too. We have our own little family quartet on Sundays. I sing soprano, my 17 year-old daughter sings alto, my 15 year-old son sings tenor, my hubby sings bass, and my youngest (13) sings whatever part he feels like.
My daughter plays the same flue now that I did back in the day. My oldest son plays French horn, and my youngest plays trumpet. I guess you could say we have a musical gene in our DNA.
The one instrument I always wished I could play is the piano. Growing up, I begged my parents to buy one for our house, not quite understanding how expensive that would be, and every year they turned me down. When I got to college, I took 2 years of private piano lessons as an elective, but I was a little too set in my treble clef ways and never really got the hang of the bass clef parts.
So, when I decided to write Charlotte’s story in A Worthy Pursuit, I gave her the gift I’d always wanted for myself–the gift of playing the piano like a master. And one of her charges is a prodigy as well.
Stone, the hero, has never really heard classical piano music. He’s more used to the tinny sounds coming from saloons and dance halls. But just because his ear is uneducated doesn’t mean it’s unappreciative. The first time Charlotte and Stone really let their barriers down with each other is after Stone overhears her playing her heart out on the piano.
Here’s a glimpse:
The piano beckoned to her like a lost love, promising solace. Promising peace. She slid onto the bench and positioned her hands over the keys. Dobson had taken the children fishing down at the lake. There was no one to hear. No one to see.
As a music instructor, she’d played in front of her students countless times, but always when she was in full control. Never when the storm raged so recklessly inside her that she had to play or be consumed. Not when her soul would be vulnerable, exposed. No, those times required privacy. And God’s providence had provided precisely that at the moment she needed it most.
Closing her eyes, her fingers hit the keys. Chopin. Her fingers needed to fly and her mind needed the challenge. The dark tones and unconventional chords of the prelude in G minor told her story. Trapped. Helpless. Questions that had no answers. But the short piece ended too quickly. Her emotions still churned for release. So she chose another. Number 28. F sharp minor. Her agitated spirit accepted the frantic pace, stealing her breath as her fingers sprinted over the keys. But it wasn’t enough. Chopin challenged her, pushed her, but his music didn’t speak to her soul. Not like Beethoven. The Tempest. That’s what she needed to play.
Lifting her hands away from the keys, Charlotte straightened her posture and let her gaze rest on an indistinct space on the wall over the sofa until the melody of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 17 in D minor sang through her mind.
She could hear her father’s instructions. Don’t touch the keys until the music is in you. Until your heart is one with the song.
Her fingers hovered above the piano. She breathed. In. Out. Felt the storm build.
It began gently. Like she had. Wanting to trust. Wanting to believe that Stone Hammond wouldn’t betray them as so many men in her life had done before. But in less than two bars, the doubts rained down. She didn’t really know him. Why would he forfeit Dorchester’s payment? Why would he care?
Yet he’d taken on a wildcat for Stephen without a thought to his own safety. The music slowed again, like a ray of sun peeking through the clouds just long enough to give hope before the gray storm blotted it from the sky. This time the storm raged longer. Her right hand warring with her left as the lighter tones tried to press their way through the roiling seas of the lower hand, like a mermaid calling to a sailor caught in a maelstrom, urging him not to give up, not to be afraid.
Unlike the Chopin preludes, Beethoven’s sonata stretched long before her, allowing her to fully immerse herself into the swells and currents of the song. Up and down she went, over and over. To trust or not to trust? If she did and he betrayed her, what would she do next? How could she protect Lily?
The music became a prayer, the groans of her spirit that were too complex for words. She poured herself out until exhaustion claimed her, the tempest building to its thunderous conclusion before finally giving way to peace. Her spirit gave up the fight as well. Spent from the frenzy of worry. She couldn’t control Stone or his motives. She had to give that over into God’s keeping. He could be trusted even if Stone couldn’t. The Lord would show her what to do when the time came.
How about you?
- Do you play an instrument or sing?
- If you could play any instrument in the world, what would you choose?