Friday, January 8, 2016

Ring Out Wild Bells

This is kind of a funny story.  Or a ridiculous one.  But either way, worth writing down.  I'm sure someday my kids will be interested to know that I often go to great lengths to make easy things extremely difficult.

I've been playing the organ in church on the first Sunday of the month for the last 5 years.  I'm not sure how that came to be.  Probably just a conversation that turned into an offer and then later a habit.  I don't mind playing at all.  In fact, I love being able to keep up my organ skills (because you never know when you'll need to play the organ in an emergency, right?)  But I'm not naturally an organist so I require a little more practice than the average person.  Unfortunately, our current Ward Music Chair typically selects the hymns for the week on Friday or Saturday, leaving me with about 48 hours at best to practice.  I'm familiar enough with most of the hymns in the hymnbook that usually it's enough time.  But last Sunday, she picked Ring Out Wild Bells.  Um...I've never even heard of that song.   I had to look it up on and listen to it to even get the tune in my head because it's just odd.  

And here's the other thing about my organ playing...
I can't actually SEE the music.  Even with my giant hymn book and my glasses, it's still blurry when I'm sitting at the organ.  Something about the angle of the hymnbook on that stand and the distance from me to the organ and progressive lenses...anyway, I just can't get it to work.  So I don't use my glasses when I'm playing the organ anymore.  I just memorize the music instead.  If I play through a song enough times it eventually just sticks in my head and my fingers will almost always memorize where they're supposed to go.  And then on Sundays, I put my glasses on right before I have to play, scan through the music one more time to make sure I have the right key and I know where the introduction starts and stops, and then I take my glasses off and just play half-blind.  Convoluted, I know, but it works.  Usually...

No amount of playing through Ring Out Wild Bells was making it comfortable or familiar to me.  My fingers and my head were completely resistant to everything about it.  I tried playing it with glasses on reading the music, and with glasses off memorized, and it was pretty much the same mess every time.  After three days of practicing, I finally just said a hefty prayer before church and hoped that I wouldn't butcher it too badly.  

My settings were wrong  The organ was too loud.  I completely missed the end of the introduction and ended up playing the entire first verse instead.  And no one else knew the song, which was good because they didn't realize how badly I was playing it, but not good because it was pretty much just an organ solo for three whole verses.  Epic fail.

I can always tell when I've made too many mistakes because people comment to me afterward on my playing.  It's always kind.  They always say things like, "Great job on the organ today."  Blah.  When I play well, I'm just background and no one notices, which is how it should be.  My job at that organ is to bring the Spirit and accompany the singing.  That's it.  i prefer when people don't even realize that we've switched organists.  But on Sunday, I got lots of very polite, very sympathetic attention after my organ fiasco.  Blah.  Apparently, I'm  either going to need to become a lot more familiar with Ring Out Wild Bells before next year,  or just make sure I'm not the one playing if we ever have to sing it again.  Maybe we'll get new hymn books and they'll just take that song out?   

1 comment:

  1. You are courageous to e ven play at church at all! I play (or used to play) the piano but when it came to playing in front of other people - like at recitals or church - I was a total nervous mess and made tons of mistakes no matter how much I practiced. Public speaking doesn't bother me at all - but put me in front of a keyboard with other people around and pretty much become non-functional. Have a great week. Hope your missionary is doing well!