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No Ordinary Musician
Caprina Wiebe's contribution to her church worship team and to the local dance studio as a pianist is anything but ordinary.

It's Thursday evening. I arrive at church for another worship band practice, and I'm actually a bit early for once. I walk up to the front of the Foothills Mennonite Church sanctuary and, I should have known, Caprina Wiebe, our pianist, is sitting on the front pew, all ready to go.

Caprina Wiebe

We chat a bit, and I decide that I should introduce her to a new song we'll be doing on Sunday. I take the music up to the piano and start plunking out the notes, trying to give her the feel of the song. After only two lines, she patiently walks up behind me, probably not too impressed by my Grade 4 piano skills, and says, "Yeah, I think I've got it."

She's right; she does have it, no problem. As usual, I'm amazed by her musical ability. Why? Because she can't read music. Actually, she can't even see it. She is blind.

Caprina Wiebe was born in 1966, two months premature and an only surviving twin. She weighed less than a kilogram, and the doctors—unsure of exactly how much oxygen premature babies needed to stay alive—erred on the side of too much, risking blindness, as opposed to deafness or mental disability with too little.

After a few months in the hospital and three foster homes, she met her new family: parents Ben and Eva Wiebe, and three older siblings, Elaine, Audrey and Marvin. Growing up, she was encouraged to participate in regular activities despite being blind, and thus she didn't find her lack of sight limiting.

Wiebe says her musical abilities were happened upon quite by accident. As a preschooler, she would listen to records as well as to her siblings practising various instruments. One evening at the supper table, her brother was tapping a glass with his fork. Caprina recognized the pitch, and said, "That's an A." Her family was taken aback and quickly ran to the piano to check if she was correct. Sure enough, she was, and her perfect pitch was discovered.

The year she started elementary school, Wiebe also began piano lessons. By her mid-teens, she had acquired a great appreciation for classical music. Two pieces in particular—the second movement of Beethoven's "Pathetique Sonata," and "Nadia's Theme"—influenced her decision to become a musician herself.

With determination and God-given talent, Wiebe got her first job as a pianist for a dance school right after graduating from high school. She continues to play for a dance school to this day.

Wiebe began playing piano for one of Foothills' three worship teams five years ago. "I had wanted to be a part of this since it started in our church," she says. "I've always liked collaborating with people when it comes to making music."

Although she enjoys the old hymns, she finds that this newer worship connects with her spirit at a deeper level. "Some music seems to tap into your soul," she says.

Wiebe is always happy to learn new songs. "I enjoy the whole atmosphere at practices," she says. "Even if I have to learn something on short notice, I just bring along my player to record it, and try to find the music on the Internet."

Having had the pleasure of being on a worship team with her for three of the past five years, I can attest that Wiebe's gift for music is clearly no accident, and she is using it to glorify God who gave it to her.

And, yes, I have given up trying to "teach" her how to play new songs.

Fonda Wiebe is a mother of three who has enjoyed being a part of the worship music ministry at Foothills Mennonite Church, Calgary, Alberta, for five years.

Originally published in Canadian Mennonite, July 9, 2007.




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