international center organ

organ 001I blame my college roommate for my poor organ skills. She was an accomplished pianist, and the organ came easily and naturally to her. I had taken piano for nine years and figured the organ would come easily and naturally to me too. She was also good at Logic and Chemistry. I barely passed both. It should have been a sign. I’m not saying that after two years of lessons I wasn’t any good at playing the organ, but . . . I’m not any good at playing the organ.organ 002I played for a nice little country church in college. I stunk. I maybe, on a good day, hit every third note. And that’s being charitable. Like, three notes charitable.

So when someone approached me at the International Center and said, “I hear you play the organ. Can we enlist you to play for chapel?” I guffawed and slapped my knee for a good four minutes before I realized I was the only one laughing.

That was awkward. organ 003 Somehow I agreed. Or maybe I didn’t. I think I stuttered something incomprehensible and the person just decided it was easier to assume I’d said “yes” than ask me to repeat my nervous gibberish.

How bad can it be? I thought. I mean, if all else fails, maybe Jesus will come back while I’m lousing up the Te Deum.

The first day I played in chapel I lost ten pounds sweating my way through a prelude and a hymn. Heck, it took four days for my heart to stop pounding.

That’s cute how I’m pretending that I don’t still get nervous. I’m such a hoot.organ 004Now I play about once or twice a week for chapel at the IC. We use services from LSB—Morning Prayer, Matins, Prayer and Preaching—and the people love to sing. Their voices cover a multitude of sins, and by “sins” I mean “organist mental breakdowns.” For instance, the day the CTCR showed up in chapel . . . or the COP . . . or the BOD and my brain froze, unfroze, froze, and then stammered, An F sharp? What’s an F sharp? Never heard of it.

Let’s just say I about died of apoplexy six times on each of those days. And it wasn’t pretty. organ 005Now I’ve learned just not to look down. Don’t look at the people. Don’t look at the ceiling. Don’t look at the clock. Don’t look at the organ pedals. Don’t look at the music.

Whoops. That’s how I got into this mess in the first place.organ 006So I’ve learned that if you just pay attention to the pastor at the podium or at the altar,organ 007and you don’t think too much about this little bridge you have to cross to get to the organ bench, the one that leaves you suspended mid-air hundreds (ok, millions!) of feet above the ground, you’ll be fine.


Fine-ish. organ 008

Or not fine at all.

Come to the IC and judge for yourself. Just make sure you come on a day when someone else is playing.

4 thoughts on “international center organ

  1. I’ve been there and heard you play and I survived so you can’t be THAT bad. Actually, having to read music, make your left hand do one thing, your right hand do another, and have each foot do something else all the while breathing, and trying not to bump into yourself the whole while takes extreme talent. And you’ve got it. Nicely done.

  2. apoplexy. You’re a hoot, A.

    Thank you for making me look words up this early in the morning. And by looking words up, I mean And by this early in the morning, I mean 10 am.

    Yep. But thank you.

    I’m also pleased to hear that the IC is singing the various prayer offices of the day. And with the organ. Hope you’re not wishing the banjo, guitar or some other minstrel takes your place, even if you are on the verge of apoplexy.

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