Teen volunteers help out church

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 20, 2002

Practice makes perfect. And Gary Tashima, a junior at Blooming Prairie High School, knows all about practicing.

He has been playing the piano for 11 years. His expertise on the piano has allowed him to share his talent with the congregation of St. Columbanus Catholic Church. He and another Blooming Prairie junior, Laura Mans, share duties of playing the piano at one mass each weekend.

"Marion Becker was the organist at the church for years and she retired. Laura and I started to play the piano at masses when we were in seventh grade. At first it was hard but it has gotten a lot easier," said Tashima.

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Becker was Tashima's first piano teacher. He says he enjoys playing the piano and seeing her sitting in the congregation. Playing piano for a singing congregation and choir takes talent. Tashima said he and Laura had to learn to play as slow or fast as the people were singing. When they first began playing for church services they played the bare minimum of the melody. Now after playing the piano for five years for St. Columbanus they play full accompaniment. Tashima practices the music he will be playing for the masses during the week at home.

"I pick the songs that the congregation will be playing when there is no choir. Sometimes I show up to play and don't know the music real well but I can wing it. I have become good at sight reading music," said Tashima.

Tashima has learned to pay close attention to the mass and the congregation. He wasn't ready once and his heart started to flutter when everyone was waiting for him to start playing. For anyone wanting to share his or her own musical talents especially with accompaniment, Tashima's advice is to stick it out. There will be bumps in learning how to stay in time with the singers. He also said he got to a plateau playing where it didn't seem as challenging but now he really enjoys playing music at church. Tahsima says that playing the piano at church ahs made him more confident.

"It's gotten easier and it is more fun. I hear comments from people on I am doing. This is encouraging. I also look out at people and they are smiling back at me, and that is really nice too," said Tashima.