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The Amen Factor

Perhaps you've noticed it, because I don't think it's just me. My sister and I affectionately refer to it as the "Amen Factor."

From my many years at the piano bench, I have observed a few patterns in the types of "Amens" offered after offertories or instrumental solos. I find it rather pathetic that in fundamental Christianity, where conservative Christian music abounds and people embrace God-honoring songs of worship, something as subtle as the Amen Factor exists. But I'm convinced it does. "So be it"--the phrase actually means, yet it seems that many who affirm "Amen" afer a special number in fact express something quite different. These observations I will attempt to explain.

First, there is the group I would term the Encouraging Ameners. These folks are just happy that the same old pianist isn't up there playing the offertory. No matter the outcome of the solo, the Encouraging Ameners belt out a loud affirmation.…
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Pride in the House of God: A Meditation on Playing the Piano in Church

Charles H. Spurgeon wrote in his Morning by Morning devotional for August 29, “We have need that the Lord should have mercy upon our good works, our prayers, our preachings, our alms-givings, and our holiest things….If mercy be needed to be exercised towards our duties, what shall be said of our sins?”

How often does pride hinder the work in the house of God! How frequently is that abominable sin employed in the instrumental music within the church! Does Pride, that sin which cast out Satan from before the throne room of God, also cause us to be offensive in His sight? When we play, “Holy, Holy, Holy” are we truly worshiping Him Who alone is thrice holy? Or is there a bit of self-worship within us that glories in an aesthetically pleasing sound which we are constructing instead of focusing on Him Who is the Creator of all that is good?

God resists the proud but offers grace to the humble. How much better to be one who has no musical ability, cannot sing on tune, is destitute of tal…

An Introduction to the Piano Teaching Ministry

I was fourteen when a middle-aged man in our church asked me, "Would you be willing to give my daughter piano lessons?"

I thought: "I'm not a very good pianist myself, but he wants me to teach her?"

I said, "Sure, I'd love to!"

And I really did want to teach piano. I loved children and especially wanted to teach. But piano? I'd barely practiced, and I hardly knew a stitch of classical music. But I loved to play hymns! That's why, two years before, when I was going into seventh grade, my dad (who was also the pastor of our small church) asked me:

"Heather, would you like to play for church--I mean, on Wednesday nights? Mrs. Conner isn't feeling so well these days and wanted someone to take her place on Wednesdays."

By eighth grade, I was playing for just about every service and loving every minute of it. Not that I was particularly accurate (especially below bass C). But I certainly had a fun time "playing...with a loud noise&…