Thursday, March 1, 2018

Facing the Music with Karen Eastlund

Hello and Happy Spiritual Journey Thursday! Today it is my pleasure to welcome Karen, who is guest-posting on the topic of MUSIC. After her post I will add my comments... and you will find a place to leave your link!

Welcome, Karen!
"I have always loved music, but had only dabbled in it over the years. Now, with retirement time available, I decided to dig in. Wouldn’t this be fun?

I chose my choir director and friend as my piano teacher. He is absolutely dedicated to music. I knew I could work with him. Then lessons began and it became clear that I would have serious work ahead of me.

This past lesson I had worked very hard over a challenging piece. I went into the lesson somewhat apprehensive, and offered a shaky rendition. Although carefully worded, my teacher’s message was clear: I may have been well prepared technically, but I was not making music. Ouch… It hurt, but I knew it was true.

We all have times when we need to face hard truths, but do we face them? Do we accept responsibility when we mess up? Do we ask forgiveness when we’ve been mean or stingy? Have we been careful to examine the truth? Do we focus on our own faults or do we pick on others?

Karen's grands
For Christians, this is the season of Lent. It is a time of preparation for Easter, of self-examination, repentance, prayer and atonement. The music during this season is often minor, and the hymns point us to the torment of Holy Week. Are we willing to face this music?

It may seem odd, but I need to hear the sadness. I need to feel the lows as well as the highs. I need to grapple with the truth about my life, about my piano playing, and about my faith story in order to grow.

We all have seasons in our spiritual lives, and those seasons vary in tone. I am very grateful for the nuances, even though I have to admit that life is not always fun. It requires work, and it requires us to search for the truth. My prayer for you is that you are able to face whatever music life is dishing up for you. I hope you can work through your sad times, and that you will come to a time of rejoicing.

Blessings to each of you!


P.S. - I was able to play duets with my grandkids yesterday. Sure, we made numerous mistakes, and maybe a connoisseur would not call it music, but I thought it was great fun."
Thank you, Karen! As a practicing cellist, music is an important part of my life. It challenges me, frustrates me, feeds me. I love practicing. I love how I feel when the music flows through me -- you really do use your whole body to play the cello. I love learning new ways to create the sound I'm seeking. Recently I've been learning a couple of Bach's Minuet's from Suzuki book 4. They are gorgeous -- and the first time for me to play a piece without accompaniment. Scary!

Sometimes my perfectionism gets in the way of my enjoyment of the cello. I can be really hard on myself. My teacher will say SHE is supposed to be the tough one, not me! I am learning to love my music, mistakes and all. Truly, I believe this is my life's journey: learning to love myself, dark spots smudges mishaps bad decisions and all. Which is really another way to say I am learning to let myself be human. Why is this so hard?

We're not the only one who love making music. On mine and Charles' recent visit to East Grand Rapids Middle School, I met several young cellists, one of who was nearly in the same place in the Suzuki books as me! I also met a young pianist named Hania, who gave me permission to share her lovely poem with all of you!

by Hania

can create such amazing
black and white
doesn't matter which key
you tackle
they all speak
and sing
in their own way
black and white keys
create magic
a story
on that one piano
one small portion
of the world
if black and white keys
create such amazing things
why can't we?
black and white

Thank you, Hania! SJT friends, please leave your links below!



  1. When I grew up, I finally took piano lessons, too! I never did "make music" with a piano. And your playing a duet with the kiddos, made me remember my recital...with all the little kids playing up a storm...and me. I was probably comic relief.

  2. Karen's post & what you've shared, Irene, fit like a melody. I love how her grandkids made music with her. Lovely whether there were *mistakes*or not. And Hania from East Grand Rapids M.S. Wow. This brilliant student channels, in this exquisite poem "Ebony and Ivory" by Stevie Wonder & Paul McCartney. And also the duet of your & Charles Waters' poems in CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? Gives me choral chills. Appreciations for this piano-rich, soul-rich, cello-rich post.

  3. Thank you Karen & Irene! I love these reflections on music. I took piano lessons for years as a kid and have experienced the magic of moving from just playing to making music. I laud you, Karen and Donna, for learning an instrument in later years, and you, Irene, for keeping it up!

    And isn't Hania's poem a perfect companion to the book you wrote with Charles, Irene! Just lovely. (I think she too has experienced music flowing through her.)

  4. Oh, I love this peek into your lives as musicians. It makes me think that it may be time for me to settle down for some serious work with the autoharp my husband bought me for Christmas. I'll add my link tomorrow since it will also be my slice of life for tomorrow and I am in the middle of a month of writing. Looking forward to reading the musical posts that will be shared.

  5. Thank you Karen & Irene for this wonderful post. I connect deeply to so many of your comments, and this topic feels like the perfect launch for me into my first SOL March challenge (honestly, I'm shaking in my boots, needing far more confidence that I will make it to March 31)

    Karen, keep practicing! As I always told my piano students, "Practice does not make perfect; practice makes permanent"

    Irene, thank you for sharing Hania's poem. That sweet girl has the wisdom of someone far beyond her years.

  6. Thank you Karen and Irene for sharing. Karen's words --"I need to hear the sadness. I need to feel the lows as well as the highs. I need to grapple with the truth about my life"-- spoke to me. Music definitely helps me do this. Hania's poem is powerful.

  7. Karen, what a lovely post. I so appreciate hearing the sadness during this season. I've been working my way through a lent devotional with paintings, music, poetry and devotional thoughts. It's a good thing to look at our humanity, the many ways we fall short of making music, and yet to understand that the presence of Christ within is such a magnificent piece of music that we have the incredible invitation to participate in, to be part of the symphony. As C.S. Lewis says, to join in the great dance.

    I love the poem you shared, Irene. So beautifully expressed by this young woman. And I love that you are making music on your cello.

    Thanks to you both.

  8. Thank you, Karen and Irene! I was at an event recently where students led worship, instead of the processed videos we often use. Even though their singing was less polished than the videos, it moved me SO much more because it was present and real and human. I bet the same is true of your music!

  9. Karen, I was inspired by your post and especially this line, "We all have seasons in our spiritual lives, and those seasons vary in tone." That statement is so true. I am especially pleased that I am in a season of self-caring to remain healthy. Irene, your 2nd paragraph is so reflective and you provide such insight into who you are. Learning how to let yourself be human-what an amazing thought. Thanks for both of you sharing your thoughts with all of us.

  10. I would guess the duet with kids is like riding a trail with my babies, grown now but still my babies.
    I agree that these blog post makes everyone real... not just a name


Your thoughts?