I 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.I 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. 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.Now 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. Now 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.So I’ve learned that if you just pay attention to the pastor at the podium or at the altar,and 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.
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.