About 2 years ago I accepted this call, having played piano for most of my life, and the organ for none of it. Let’s just say the organ takes much more brain power than the piano, and if you mess up, EVERYONE KNOWS, except for the people who sing so loud that they can only hear themselves. Hurrah for them.
I’m playing the sacrament hymn, things are going swimmingly as I am concentrating as much as humanly possible, making sure my feet and fingers are all playing the right notes, at the right time, at the right volume. Oy yoi yoi. At the end of verse 3, I stop and go to sit down, and breath a small sigh of relief. Then I realize that the congregation has just taken a simultaneous deep breath, preparing to sing the 4TH VERSE!!! I turn around in horror to see all these wide-open mouths, waiting to sing, but unable, because I ended on verse 3, and not verse 4. Yah…..whoops. I got back on the bench and finished, a little traumatized, but we all made it safe and sound.
Embarrassing moments involving the volume pedal.
With the organ, you don’t have the luxury of controlling the volume of a note with how light or hard you touch the key. The only thing that affects the volume of the organ is the volume pedal. So, not only are you playing all the base notes with your feet, you have to adjust the volume with your feet in between everything else. The BIG problem is that every time you set the volume before you play, you can’t really tell how loud it’s going to be, you can guess, but you’ll only know until you start playing the intro. Talk about being set up for embarrassing moments.
I remember the time that I thought I had set the volume to a nice, soft level, when I go to play the first notes and blast everyones’ ears out. What a great way to invite the spirit! Everyone ofcourse started laughing, and later made appreciative comments about how I helped “wake them up.”
Or the time after that, when I wanted to be extra cautious, I set the volume really low, thinking I could raise it during the song. Well, the base line was so, “all over the place” that I couldn’t manage to get to the volume pedal, and everyone was singing in this ridiculous whisper because of it. When I decided to forego a few base notes to get to the volume pedal, I hit it too hard and WAHHHH!!!! Hello organ! Everyone was blasted again! Totally embarrassing! “Ha ha, that silly organist is at it again.”
On the way back to my seat, walking down the steps from the stand, my shoe decides to slide off the edge, catapulting me down toward the sacrament table. Miraculously, I did not land on all fours, but did attract the attention of the 1st counselor who was conducting, and ofcourse he had to make some comment about the incident, attracting the attention of all those who may have missed it.
Or there was the time I started playing the sacrament hymn before the high councilmen did the callings and releasings that he was supposed to do. The whole bishopric turned around to look at me, I froze, looked at the confused congregation (who I thought seriously looked embarrassed for me), and stopped, laughing it off. I was just so anxious to play, “Again We Meet Around the Board,” that I couldn’t help myself!
Or there are the times when you accidentally hit a key while someone is speaking. Luckily, I haven’t done it when the bishop asks if anyone is opposed to someone receiving a calling……”Any opposed, please make the same sign, “ “Wah” says the organ. “Well EVERYBODY, apparently Sr. Durfee is opposed.”
Also, I am SOOOO bad at intros to the songs. They are awful, and that’s the only part that people are just listening, not singing. It had been a train wreck too many times, and don’t ask me how the congregation finds their first note.
I also must apologize to any tenors in our ward, because if I have to skip a note because my brain can’t process everything quick enough, your note is always the first to go.
Luckily, I have improved A LOT since I was first called, and Chad doesn’t have to be quite as ashamed at church anymore….jk. But seriously, there is no other calling that can lead to as many embarrassing moments as the ward organist. But honestly, now I really do like my calling. Some people know me as the “piano lady” because I’m the ward organist, primary pianist, and choir accompaniest (I could be mute, and no one would know. Also, please don’t think I’m bragging about my callings or some other silliness). Unfortunately, when I think of “piano lady” I imagine this scary old lady with long arm hair, and moles in weird places. Don’t ask me why….and I don’t fit the bill, people!
I would like to thank my parents for giving me piano lessons for so long. That sentence had no sarcasm in it. I truly am grateful. But to all those closet pianists out there, WE WILL FIND YOU, and you WILL PLAY THE ORGAN ONE DAY!!! MOO ha ha.
On a side note, I'm not hinting to anyone that I want to be released. I am perfectly content.