What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned from a magazine? The LDS church publishes four magazines monthly: the Ensign aimed at adults, the New Era for youth, the Friend for children, and the Liahona a combined magazine which is available in 47 languages. The format and content has changed over the years, sometimes for the better, but not always. However, there is one particular article that stands out for me as teaching me something I really needed to know at the time: the most useful thing I learned from a church magazine ever.

Anyone familiar with my posts and or comments will know I love music. My current calling is primary pianist. I enjoy playing. But I never had formal piano lessons. I had lessons for trumpet, but not piano. Apart from a few months when one of the school music teachers took me in hand and entered me for an exam I was pretty much left to my own devices.

I had reached the point where I knew I was going to have to learn to use the sustain pedal if I was going to be able play the hymns acceptably. I was doing my best, but I knew something wasn’t quite right. And then I read “Bach, Beethoven and the Book of Mormon” in the New Era, by a girl who had written about resuming piano lessons after surgery on her thumbs. I didn’t remember anything about her particular struggle, though I’m sure I must have sympathised at the time. I remember nothing about her analogy to reading the Book of Mormon. What I did drink up were the instructions she gave for using the sustain pedal.

“When I was sure I was finally ready to pass off the pieces, he showed me how to properly use the sustaining pedal. Instead of just up and down at the beginning and end of each line, I was to use the pedal on each chord. Chord, hit pedal, release pedal, release chord. This was very hard for me to learn. It took many weeks of practice to unlearn old habits. With each chord I would say out loud, “Hit, hit, release, release.””

I practised this diligently too, and my playing sounded much better as a result. I may not have remembered the point of the article, the circumstances of the author, but I am grateful she included those instructions.

Today, of course, there are videos online demonstrating most things anyone might want to learn. I found a great series of videos showing how to hang patterned wallpaper when decorating my daughter’s room.

  • Have you learned anything useful or helpful from a church magazine?
  • What was it?
  • Have you used online instructions to learn new things?
  • What would you like to learn?

Discuss.