Ladean felt confident as she sat on the piano bench in the Primary room. Her soft blond hair was tied back with a big bow that matched her dress. It seemed like only yesterday that Sister Hayes, the Primary chorister, had asked Ladean to accompany them during an opening song. Ladean had chosen one of her favorite Primary songs, even though it was fairly difficult to play. She had practiced it over and over again for three weeks.
Now the big moment was here. Sister Hayes stood up to lead the opening song and nodded to Ladean to begin. The introduction went fine, but when the Primary children joined in, Ladean’s confidence crumbled. Her heart began to pound louder and louder with every beat. Her hands began to tremble, her fingers stumbled on the keys, and her face blushed with embarrassment. Then she lost her place in the music. The children continued to sing as she frantically tried to reenter the song. But her fingers quivered so much that she could not control them, and before she knew it, the song was over. Tears welled up in Ladean’s eyes as she pushed herself away from the piano and sat down with the other children.
“I’d like to thank Ladean for accompanying us today,” said Sister Hayes. “She worked very hard on this song, and I would like her to help us with it again next week.”
Sister Hayes’s words sounded a fire alarm in Ladean’s mind: Next week? Not me! Never, neveragain. Oh I wish I could just disappear. I don’t want to ever play in front of anyoneagain!
At the end of Primary closing exercises, Sister Hayes quickly grabbed Ladean’s hand and pulled her toward the piano. “Quick, come up and play while the children leave,” she whispered.
Before Ladean could answer, she was staring at the piano keys. Once again her heart began to pound and her fingers trembled, but as she played, her confidence returned. This is right, she thought. I’m playing exactly like I practiced.
Sister Hayes smiled at Ladean. “See—I knew that you could do it.”
Ladean closed the songbook and shook her head. “I don’t understand,” she said. “I know this song. Why did I get so nervous? Something was different, but what?”
Sister Hayes put her arm around Ladean. “You’ll get it. Just try it again next Sunday.”
That evening Ladean sat at her piano, mumbling. “Now, the first time I played the song was with the Primary singing. And the second time I was playing alone. That’s it! That’s the difference—I’ve never practiced with singers. That’s why I got so nervous when the children joined in. I need some singers!”
She asked her mother for help. “Mom, will you sing this song while I practice?”
“Who, me? You know that I always sing off-key,” Mom laughed. “Can your father and brothers help out too? Maybe they’ll sing loudly enough to cover up my squeaking.”
Soon the whole family was gathered around the piano. Ladean’s brothers tried to outsing each other, and her father’s booming voice sounded like a bass drum. They all laughed and sang the song over and over until Ladean did not stumble or lose her place at all.
Throughout the following week, whenever Ladean practiced, she could hear her family humming from the other rooms in the house. Pretty soon her brothers would walk in and start singing aloud. Then her mom and dad would join in as well.
That next Sunday, Ladean once again sat at the piano in the Primary room. Sister Hayes nodded at her to begin the introduction. When the children started singing, Ladean smiled as she played. She thought of her family and all the wonderful, happy hours they had shared together, and she played the song through without one mistake.