A couple weeks ago, I was playing at a baptism, and it was a staggering amount of fun.
I was asked to play "Morning has broken" and "You raise me up", plus some extra pieces of my own choosing (I picked Schumann's Album fur die Jugend - it seemed appropriate). The start of the service was especially hilarious because one of the most important guests hadn't arrived yet, and I ended up doing a perpetual loop of Morning has broken until I got fed up and modulated into Grieg.
This amused some of the smaller children to no end, since they had seen me trying to signal the priest several times, failing, and then shrugging and pulling a few faces as I figured out a nice chord progression.
Then when the service had finished, a little girl of about four turned up (she pretended to be shy at first but she wasn't really) and proceeded to show me how well she could play the piano herself.
Suffice it to say, it was an excellent afternoon.
On Mother's Day and Father's Day respectively I was asked to do a rather different gig.
A crematorium approached me and told me they were hosting a "Remembrance Event", where everyone who had lost someone was welcome to reminisce about the good times.
There, my job was to provide suitable background music - not too intrusive, because people wanted to talk and share, but interesting enough so that people could also just sit back and think.
This event is hosted by a very excellent staff, who greet everyone as they come in, provide them with a drink and then ask them why they've come. Depending on the answer, they then either sit and talk with them themselves, or very gently introduce them to some other people that have wandered in for a similar reason. The idea is, of course, that no one ends up alone.
There was one elderly lady who had a different plan.
She sat next to my piano for an hour as I went through Schubert, Grieg, Bach, Beethoven and Satie, politely fending off everybody who came to check if she was okay. Just when I was about to take my first break, she came up to me and thanked me for a wonderful morning, telling me that she would gladly stay and listen for two more hours, but her children were coming 'round for tea and she had to hurry to meet them.
Schubert had been her late husband's favorite composer, and he used to play the impromptus at home.
That was a rather humbling experience.
I've had a few setbacks in the last month, with two major projects not working out quite the way I thought they would. These relatively small concerts have helped me put things into perspective. It's incredibly easy to get hung up on large, time-consuming events, I've found, which is especially unfortunate when it's the little things that actually do more to make you happy.
For the next couple of weeks, I'm happy to report there's more of these little things coming up: a graduation ceremony next Friday, accompanying a choir singing Abba medleys on Monday, and a rather exciting Grieg concert the Tuesday after.
Plus, of course, there's the planning of the Next Big Thing to work out...