Hello! I’m Mary Lynn Van Gelderen, and I love to play the piano! Since 1992, it’s been a joy to travel with my husband John and our son John Jr (who joined us in 2002) in revival ministry, in which I play the piano and sing special music in the services. We live in Michigan and base out of Ann Arbor Baptist Church.
My parents started me on piano lessons when I was eight years old, but I had been figuring out how to play the piano on my own long before that. Through the years I loved learning how to play, and enjoyed lessons from wonderful pianists who instilled in me a passion for playing hymns and gospel songs. Junior high school was my first experience learning how to improvise from the hymnal and practicing these new skills in school chapels. Through high school I stayed busy with music, but by the time I got to college, decided to major in broadcasting. I know, I can’t figure out what I was thinking at the time by not majoring in music. But even while majoring in something totally unrelated to music, I still continued to enjoy the piano, learning and developing more ideas.
My heart overflows with gratitude for piano teachers who took time for me and equipped me for playing and writing music: Beverly Deedrick, Shelley Hamilton, Roger Van Maasdam and Joan Pinkston, in timeline order of my piano-playing life. I remember in high school listening to Flora Jean Garlock’s piano record (this dates me!), repeatedly taking the needle off the record, running over to the piano, trying to imitate her chords and ideas. I’ve always loved to figure out and copy what other pianists are doing, which I try to encourage other pianists to do, to develop their own ear for improvisation.
I’m thankful for the writing opportunities through the Bill Rice Ranch, the Wilds and SoundForth (now Lorenz) who have published my music. And now it is exciting to provide more music through Gentle Praise!