Today is the day that Son1 will play piano in Primary. He’s been working on Book of Mormon Stories for a couple of weeks now, and he’s got it down, cold. He’s ten years old, and it will be his first time playing piano in public.
I play the closing hymn in Sacrament, then a few postlude pieces, and then rush off to Primary. M and I sit in the back. The second counselor, conducting, announces that Son1 will play the opening song: Book of Mormon Stories, and they’re going to do all eight verses.
The chorister gets out the visual aids, since most of primary doesn’t know all 8 verses. Son1 plays an intro, then launches in to the song. The chorister and the kids are doing hand motions. He’s playing it perfectly. Lamanites are meeting others. In the back, we smile.
A few verses in, we notice a trend. Son1 is nervous, and he’s speeding up slightly with each verse. The pause between verses is shrinking, too. He’s not looking at the chorister, he’s concentrating on his playing. Six verses in, he hasn’t missed a note, but the Primary is getting more and more out-of-breath as he goes faster and faster. The chorister is trying hard not to giggle. M and I, too.
Verse seven proceeds at breakneck pace. “SamueltheLamanitehighonthecitywall,
Suddenly, at the end of verse seven, Son1 slams on the breaks. The instructions say to play verse 8 slowly and reverently, and that’s exactly what he’s doing — and so, he drops from 80 mph to 35 in about half a second.
The chorister and Primary kids are totally unprepared for the tempo change. The kids are still at 80 mph, hitting the first line of verse 8 before Son1 has played a measure. They realize the shift, and slow down haphazardly. It’s a rough transition, to say the least. Chorister is doing all she can not to burst out laughing.
The rest of verse 8 proceeds relatively smoothly (other than suppressed giggles from the teachers and Son1’s parents), and the children end by singing softly, “and they lived, in the land, righteously.” Son1 returns to his seat. M and I tell him that he did great, and he grins from ear to ear.
A few weeks later, Son1 plays I am a Child of God in primary. He misses a few notes on the third verse. Other than that, the kids have only one complaint. He kept speeding up the song, and by the last verse, everyone was out of breath.
At the moment, he’s planning on what to play in a few weeks. The current plan is Teach me to Walk in the Light. Piano teacher and I are going to go over it with Son1, stressing that he needs to keep an even tempo and not speed up.
I don’t know how successful we’ll be. I hope the kids are prepared to do the last verse at march tempo, with no breaths.