I play the piano. Not well. But well enough to play the hymns impromptu or accompany if I have some advance notice. (Like several weeks. Okay, maybe a month.)
When I was a senior in high school, my grandmother asked me to accompany our entire extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles) in singing a special musical number at their missionary farewell. The piece was called, “Here am I” and was written by my grandmother’s sister. My grandparents had been called to the Minneapolis, Minnesota mission and all their children and grandchildren had been dutifully practicing in small circles around living room pianos in Utah, Arizona, and Idaho, belting out, “Here am I! Use me Lord!” to the robust strains of Great-Aunt Marie’s rallying chorus…that repeats. Twice.
I had been practicing too. The accompaniment consisted mostly of chords that moved quickly up and down the keyboard, from black to white, both hands pounding and leaping along. The piece was stirring but tiring to play. The flap of skin between my thumb and pinky finger was stretched weary, and I was having trouble making the chord transitions sound anything but choppy.
Then I remembered the sustain pedal and its wondrous mechanics.