Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Organ

About a month ago, word got out that I can play the organ.  The regular organist apparently doesn't get breaks very often, so she was excited when she confirmed that information with me.  I told her that I would be happy to substitute for her anytime she needed me.  So last week, she ASKED ME to play for her!!  Hooray!!

I was the organist in our ward in Mendon for a couple of years and (like everything else), I didn't realize how much I loved it until after we moved and I didn't have the opportunity to play anymore.   When I was first given that calling, I definitely didn't love it.  I remember each time I played one of the hymns, I would write the date that I played it in my hymnbook.  I had made a personal commitment to try the organ for one year, or until I had played every hymn in the book during Sacrament.  When I started to repeat hymns, I started hinting (to the powers that were) that my turn was up and that it was time to release me.  Of course, they didn't.  So I just stayed there, and eventually, I gained enough confidence in my ability and had enough of a repertoire that I could play even without practicing.  But it's been 6 months since I've played an organ and I wasn't sure how much practice I would need to be ready for actual playing in front of people.  This week I went to the church in the middle of the week to reacquaint myself with the organ and guess what!  I CAN STILL PLAY!!  

By the way, I'm a total organist imposter... completely fake.  I'm a pianist who can play the organ...definitely NOT a true organist.  I don't use the foot pedals at all except occasionally at the very end of the song for effect with ONE FOOT on ONE PEDAL.  I don't know how to set any of the stops.  I just play around with the settings that someone else has already preset until I find ONE that is suitable for prelude music and Sacrament hymns and ONE that is suitable for everything else.  That's it...two settings.  (In Mendon it was #3 and it was #5 and #8)  One time, though, I did insert chimes into the third verse of a hymn because it sort of called for them.  
Just to make sure that I'm not giving anyone the wrong impression...I can play here...
but definitely NOT HERE...

Today I got to church early and walked right up to the organ just like I used to in Mendon.  The building we're currently attending looks exactly like our building in Mendon, so it was a very familiar feeling to be sitting up there today.   I played prelude for about 10 minutes and then the Bishop stood up to open the meeting.  In Mendon, I had a system worked out with a couple of the members of the Bishopric.  They would give me a few seconds notice that they were going to stand up and then I would have time to finish playing.  Not all of them did that, but I appreciated the ones who did.  Today I panicked slightly when I looked up and realized the Bishop was already standing at the podium.  Fortunately it was a short hymn, and I wrapped it up quickly so he didn't have to wait long.  
Oh how quickly you forget all the subtle little details of a calling when you don't have it anymore.

Just after the Sacrament prayer, I set all of my stops in preparation for the closing hymn, and slid toward the end of the bench to sit in my soft chair for the remainder of the meeting (just like I used to in Mendon).  Unfortunately, I remembered too late that I don't usually wear shoes when I play the organ (not because I need my feet to play anything, but because I'm always worried that my shoes are going to slip off and accidentally hit one of the pedals). 

See that wood frame that borders the end of the foot pedals?  Well, WITHOUT shoes on, I can tell the difference between the frame and a pedal.  WITH shoes ON, I can't!!!  (totally embarrassing...but just for a second)

The rest of the meeting was uneventful.  And after it ended I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to play again.  I hope she asks me to sub for her again SOON!

These are the hymns that I played this morning...

136  I Know That My Redeemer Lives
191  Behold the Great Redeemer Die
166  Abide with Me


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