Searching for a mission bag is a big deal. It becomes a huge part of your mission. You wear it everyday, pack your daily essentials inside and you have to lug it around with you...
You do a lot of things you don’t think you will ever do on your mission. This may happen through community service projects, in lessons with children or in the wards where you will serve. One of the most common things we hear from missionaries is that they wished they had kept up on playing the piano so they could have helped out the wards they served in better for Sunday services and for baptismal services. Piano players are always needed in wards but if you serve out of the country or in more rural areas the selection of piano players often becomes extremely minimal. In one ward where I served the ward was singing acapella every week for their sacrament meeting! While this isn’t the most terrible thing to happen in a sacrament meeting, there is a different feel to the meeting when there is a pianist.
If you are concerned about keeping up the practice of the hymns on the mission rest assured! Ask your district, zone leader or AP in the mission for permission to practice at the church building throughout the week. Most will be happy to let you practice songs in order to serve your ward better. If you companion plays you could even switch off who plays each sunday, or one of you could play the opening hymn and one could play the closing hymn in a meeting if you aren’t comfortable mastering multiple hymns in a short amount of time. Your ward members will appreciate your willingness to serve and bless their lives in any way possible. It won’t go unnoticed.
If you have ever taken piano lessons in the past, we suggest you brush up on a handful of hymns to be ready to play in a time of need. The church distribution center sells simplified versions of the hymnbook for an extremely low cost. If you feel more comfortable playing a simplified version of the hymns there is no shame in that!
The distribution center has 3 hymnbook options for you to choose from:
1. The official hymnbook:
This book is spiral bound and hardback. It contains the 341 songs that LDS church congregations pull from on a regular basis. Having your own hymnbook can come in handy so you can add your own penciled in notes or mark the hymns you are most comfortable with playing. This version of the hymnbook comes in two sizes and will run you around $17-20.You can purchase this version here.
2. The Hymnbook of Simplified Accompaniments:
This book is spiral bound and hardback, like the original hymnbook, however, the arrangements in the book are a simplified version of the original versions. This book boasts of having 158 simplified hymn arrangements. Though these hymns are simplified from the original version, they are at an intermediate level and are not suggested for beginning piano students. This book will cost you $26.25 on the church distribution website. You can purchase this version here.
3. Hymns made easy:
This book is also spiral bound but comes with a soft cover. With over 60 simplified arrangements of the hymns, this book provides plenty of variety for a piano student who is beginning or for a student who hasn’t played for a few years and is a bit rusty. This book is only $5 and is a great value for what you get. Fun fact:This book is also available in 9 languages! You can purchase this version here.
Another resource that is available is found on www.lds.org that many people don't know about is a keyboarding book. This is a great resource for anyone hoping to review what they have already learned about playing the piano OR anyone who is wanting to start the process of learning the piano. There may be times you are serving in an area and are asked to provide piano lessons for local members who are interested, often children in the ward. This is also a great resource to use to start teaching them. You can find this resource here.
Don’t get overwhelmed with the idea of playing in front of a congregation. People are so grateful to have piano accompaniment in their sacrament meetings! Start off slow, find a few songs to learn and build from there. You won’t regret it and you’ll find another way to bless the lives of the people you are called to serve.