Alta’s interest in music began when she was about ten or eleven years old. She started playing her old-fashioned pump organ, trying to learn songs that she liked or had recently heard. Her self-given lessons and two years of formal lessons have been her only means for learning how to play the piano. “I just have a natural feeling for it and it’s always come easily,” comments Alta.
She was given her first pianist calling when she was fourteen years old. Now, at age ninety, Alta has served in Primary, Relief Society, and the Young Women’s organization playing the piano. She has also served—several different times, but most recently for twelve years straight—as the sacrament organist in the Fairview Utah Third Ward. She explains that, “It is better to have one job and do it well. That’s better than having two or three.”
Her calling has extended longer than the life of her homeward chapel. This is the third building that she has been in besides a period of time when Alta and her husband moved to Salt Lake City (where she also held the calling of pianist).
Alta hopes that she’s not taking this calling away from someone else but when she has been considered for other callings she says that the question always arises, “Well then, who is going to play the piano?”
However, Alta’s service in the Church isn’t solely confined to playing the piano. She serves many of the sisters in her ward by driving a group of women who can’t see well to the Manti, Utah temple on a weekly basis.
When Alta was asked to play the piano for a friend’s funeral a few weeks ago she was hesitant to play because of this emotional loss, but after some thought she decided that she would play. “You just have to have a little faith to go with it,” Alta advises. “When you say a prayer before you play, you’ll make beautiful music.”
Alta plays better by ear than by reading notes, but the real trick, she says, is that you have to feel the music “If I couldn’t feel the music, I couldn’t play. The fingers don’t do the playing—it comes from the heart.”