Today's guest post is brought to you by Lynette Sawatsky.
Lynette is a piano teacher and composer from the Canadian prairies. She writes music for beginners through early advanced pianists. Her inspiration comes from nature and from life experiences. She sees beauty all around her, and her hope comes through in her compositions. Lynette's music has been described as "charming", "lyrical", and "pedagogically sound." One of her greatest pleasures as a composer is to connect with teachers and students who are playing her compositions.
A NEW DAY DAWNS. The sun rises as usual, perhaps a few minutes earlier than yesterday as winter grudgingly begins to loosen its cold, dark grip. Despite the arrival of the vernal equinox on my calendar a week ago, spring has not truly arrived on the Canadian prairies yet, so there are no birds eagerly heralding the dawn. The morning begins without fanfare. But make no mistake. Today is not ordinary.
Yesterday began in a similar way, but this day will not be a duplicate of the past twenty-four hours. No, this day is unique. Alive with new possibilities and the potential for meaningful connection. Some of the events are already planned. Written in my calendar. Others will emerge as the day unfolds. Unexpected. Unscripted. Uninvited. The minutes of this day will never be repeated. They are mine to capture and experience fully. It’s time to Start Out.
"Starting Out" has a contemplative feel as though someone is thoughtfully beginning their day. Perhaps they are setting out carefully on a new adventure. This piece is in 3/4 time and is suitable for early intermediate pianists. LH uses broken chord patterns, while RH carries the melody in dotted half notes. Peaceful and accessible, this music is written in C major.
The past has been written. The future is uncertain. But we have the present. The PRESENT. It arrives without wrapping paper or a shiny bow. But truly it is a gift. I must not miss seeing it that way.
There are no guarantees. Life can change in an instant. Who could have possibly imagined a year ago that life was about to take such a drastic turn? Who might have imagined that normal activities would be temporarily suspended and then suspended again? And again? Who could have dared to project that the effects would be so long-lasting and far-reaching emotionally, physically, and mentally?
I had my own personal journey with unforeseen events this winter with a little surgical procedure interrupting the mundane flow of life. A day of fragile indignity in a surgical ward at a local hospital and then the long wait for biopsy results. I was one of the lucky ones. Only I don’t really believe in luck. I am fortunate. Blessed. Grateful. Maybe that little foray into the darkness of health uncertainties has sharpened my senses.
EACH DAY IS A GIFT. I will not take that for granted any more.
And so I embrace the new day and look forward to what will happen in these next hours. I am attentive to discover moments of joy. I treasure the contacts with family members and friends, whether they take place in person or by phone or over FaceTime.
I look forward to the time with my students. Each of them is on their own journey. I have come to know many of them well through our weekly time together. I celebrate their successes, and my heart goes out to them as they share their struggles. Some of them are on great adventures. Like Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, they are seemingly thrust into a story that is fraught with danger as they travel “there and back again.” There are difficult family dynamics to navigate for some of them. Some have educational roadblocks or unique cognitive or physical challenges. Others have a more lighthearted approach and are dreaming of big expeditions “to infinity and beyond” like Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story. I consider it a great privilege to walk with each of my students in their musical journey and to share in their lives as they find their way There and Beyond.
"There and Beyond" begins in a minor key as the brave travelers encounter unexpected challenges and interesting experiences on their journey. The melody changes to major partway through the piece, and all ends well. Syncopated rhythms and engaging harmonies add to the appeal here. Suitable for late intermediate students.
My oldest son and his wife, along with their two little girls, are on the adventure of a lifetime, having moved to the Canadian arctic to begin a new job there recently. I chose There and Beyond’s cover design with them in mind. It features the beautiful northern lights, which they see often in Nunavut, and I’ve dedicated this piece to them. I miss them (and the little ones who call me “Mimi”) dreadfully, and I am grateful for the connections we can continue to have over our frequent FaceTime visits.
Each day is a gift. But each day can also bring heartache and pain. Having been in a recent holding pattern briefly with my own health journey, and having gone through the loss of two of my dearest friends to cancer in the last couple of years, I am keenly aware that life is not always easy.
It doesn’t take a very long conversation to discover that many people are dealing with major challenges right now. Changes in family dynamics. A debilitating illness. The loss of a job. These and other issues create huge insecurities and can make it difficult to cope with the events of day-to-day living.
I love this quote by Etienne de Grellet: “I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
OFFER KINDNESS WHEREVER YOU GO. That is the essential ingredient.
As a teacher, it is very easy for me to offer correction. Instruction. Advice. My students arrive and play for me, and my ears are immediately attuned to all the musical misdemeanours. I am acutely aware of the limited minutes to work with each student, and I am eager to provide assistance. But first, kindness. Always. That must be the starting point.
I must remember to offer kindness to myself also. We are living in a time of instant access to an abundance of resources. It’s easy to spend hours online, scrolling through helpful posts on social media pedagogy groups. I can readily lose track of time as I click on links to discover new ideas and innovative techniques that will make me a better teacher. But the constant, self-inflicted drive to hone my trade and to devote each spare minute to my craft can also leave me feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s better to focus on fewer things and do them well.
I need to find time to be present and to enjoy the moment. To rest body, mind, and soul. To reflect on the blessings. To focus on what is truly important. To Come Home. I must always remember where I belong and find my true joy there.
"Coming Home" is the third piece in this piano adventure series by Lynette Sawatsky. Peaceful and reflective, this intermediate solo is in triple meter piece with a flowing RH melody and a moving broken LH accompaniment.
Wishing you peace and health in your own journey of Starting Out, travelling There and Beyond, and Coming Home. May you find beauty and joy wherever you are today.