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Implementing Our Catholic Faith Into the Performance Process

I had my first piano recital when I was 7 years old where I played a “simplified” arrangement of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. I remember walking onto the stage and paying no attention to those in the audience – all I felt was excitement. This was the same attitude I would continue to have growing up as I would perform more frequently. As the years went by, however, fear and nervousness began to slowly creep in.


I distinctly remember being backstage of my undergraduate Junior recital; minutes before I was set to perform my nerves were all over the place – I was second guessing myself and even having thoughts where I wished I never got myself in this position in the first place! I then remembered: I have the most powerful tool to combat any fear – prayer. I not only prayed while I was backstage, but onstage as well. In between each piece/movement, I would close my eyes and say to myself: "Jesus, I Trust in You." My recital ended up being a great success; yes, in part because I prepared as best as I could, but also because I implemented my faith into the process and invited God onstage with me as I played. I have since found a “Catholic performance routine” that can be applied and adjusted to all aspects of life.


1) During practice sessions, I would always invite the Lord to be there and listen to me. It gave my practice time purpose, as I knew I was not just playing for myself, but for the one who has blessed me with the gift of music in the first place. Including God from the get-go of the performance process is very comforting, so that when the time comes for the actual performance, you can rest knowing that God has been with you along the way.


2) Attend mass – either the day of your performance or the day before. When you attend mass with the intention of having your big performance soon, parts of the mass may stand out to you (i.e., a verse of scripture, the homily etc.)


3) Light a candle for yourself! Pray that your performance will glorify the Lord. In my hometown, there is a chapel devoted to St. Jude where I go when seeking a quiet place to pray. Candles are lit everywhere, and you can’t help but feel God’s presence amongst the solitude.


4) As a pianist, I do not wear jewelry on my hands/wrists, but I do often wear necklaces/earrings on the day of my performance. First and foremost, I wear my brown scapular (that I wear throughout the year as well!). I also wear a necklace that once belonged to my grandmother – it is a gold locket with an image of the crucifixion (this is another staple that I wear year-round). I top it off with miraculous medal earrings; I have a strong devotion to Our Lady and want to make her present with me on stage.


5) On performance day, I make time to simply rest; anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. I am one who is prone to overthinking, so setting time aside to quiet my

mind and heart is very important. I love using the Hallow app; there are so many prayers/meditations to choose from. For my most recent graduate recital, I listened to the scriptural rosary – all nerves/doubts subsided, and I was able to focus my mind on the mysteries of the rosary. After this time of rest, I feel an immense sense of gratitude wash over me.


6) Before I leave the house, my parents bless me with holy water: on my forehead

and hands. We say a prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to help guide my hands as I perform, and to lead them back to the proper place if they go astray. If there is no one to bless you, make the sign of the cross before giving yourself a blessing!


7) Once I arrive at the venue, I say special prayers to Saint Cecilia (patron saint of

music) and St. Joseph of Cupertino (patron saint of students). You can pray along to these written prayers, or simply just talk to them (I do both!) I have also included a personal prayer that I wrote.


Prayer to St. Joseph of Cupertino


St. Joseph of Cupertino,

patron saint of students,

saint of joy,

master of prayer,


enchanted by the gospel and the Eucharist,

accept my prayer with kindness.

You who always faced the difficulties of life,

without ever straying from the divine will,

to which you adhered with constant faith and commitment;

now understand the special state of mind in which I find myself


and intercede with Our Lord

so that he may grant me the grace I so need,

let me feel the divine presence,

and help me, with your example, to follow his will.


Trusting in your protection,

I renew with much faith

my intention of gratitude and good will

and I confide in your support.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.


Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be


(Author unknown, text from the Basilica-Santuario san Giuseppe da Copertino, Osimo, Italy, slightly adapted by Rev. Gregory Kimm, 2021)


Prayer to St. Cecilia


Holy Saint Cecilia,


You are the patron saint for all musicians.

Your life was full of honor and righteousness.


We now pray that you will help us as we make music to honor our God in Heaven.

Help lift our voices to Heaven. Send our music throughout the world and to the skies.

Help our voices touch people’s hearts and spread the word of God. Raise our voices.


Help any people who need to hear our music have access to it.

Lead people to comfort through the words and music we share.


Help our instruments play sound, supported music. Help people to hear it and rejoice.

Help magnify our songs. Make them a prayer to the Almighty in Heaven.


Let Him hear our words through our music.


Let our songs be a testament to our faithfulness to the teachings of Jesus Christ.


Unite us with Christ in our music and our lives.


Help us follow His teachings and His example throughout everything that we do.


Please help our music speak of His goodness and grace.


Thank you for the example you set through the way you lived and worshipped.


Pray for us, Saint Cecilia.

Amen.


(https://prayrs.org/prayers-for-musicians/)


Personal Prayer


Dear Lord, I humbly come before you and ask for your everlasting love and guidance as I prepare for my __________________________. I pray that the music I play may glorify you and your son, Jesus Christ. I give you praise and thanks for being blessed with the gift of music and may all who hear me receive a glimpse of heaven and all its beauty.


Amen.


8) Before walking onstage, I do the sign of the cross. This reassures me that I am not alone in this endeavor – Jesus is walking right beside me. As I sit at the piano, I close my eyes and turn my mind and focus to God; giving him thanks for this present moment, and I whisper to myself four of the most powerful words: Jesus, I Trust in You. Smiling, I open my eyes, and begin to play.


Remember to praise God and give thanks after your performance!


Lauren Martinez is a pianist born and raised in El Paso, TX and is currently a graduate student at the University of Texas at El Paso studying piano performance. Having graduated from this same university in May of 2022, Lauren obtained her bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy. She has acquired great performance experience; from performing in Paris, France, to the home of Spanish composer, Joaquin Rodrigo in Madrid, Spain. Additionally, Lauren takes part in the ORFEO Music Festival in Vipiteno, Italy, where she collaborates with musicians from all over the world. A devout Catholic with a strong devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, Lauren devotes her time praying the rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and attending daily Mass. As a performer, Lauren’s main goal is for God’s grace to reach each audience member as she performs; for, in the words of J.S. Bach, “I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music.”

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