Chapter 247 in a future book called "The Embarrassed Organist"

Possible subtitle "How to really screw up on the organ and still be asked to play"

I was asked to sub for the regular organist yesterday (well in advance. I couldn't rely on the "not enough time to practice" excuse). It was ward conference, so the head honchos were in town too.

And I totally messed up the first song.

It was a song I can't play very well (219 Because I Have Been Given Much--Katie, I SO needed your skillz with that song yesterday) so I decided to take advantage of the autoplay on the organ, i.e. the organ was going to play itself.

How could I screw up a song the organ was going to play by itself, you ask? Oh, I found a way.

The introduction went fine, but I thought perhaps it was too fast. So I was going to slow down the tempo on the autoplay. But I didn't push the "quick menu" button to take me to the tempo/volume menu first. (Which, I learned, you have to do first) I just turned the knob that I thought would slow it down. Instead of slowing the tempo during the first bars of the first verse, IT STOPPED PLAYING.

If the organ had a PANIC button, I would have pushed that.

I leaned over and in a very loud whisper to the chorister, I said, "It stopped." Thank goodness this young lady had the presence of mind to keep the congregation going. They looked to her and she continued singing and moving her arm around in time to the nonexsistent music without so much as a waver or a flinch.

Since I couldn't restart autoplay while the congregation was in the middle of a verse, I had to sit there on the organ bench and wait. I'm sure my face was beet red.

My initial reaction was to run off to my car and drive home as fast as possible and never set foot in church again. My second reaction was to hide in the bathroom. Third: Hide behind the organ. Fourth, shout obscentities very loudly at the organ (OK not really. I'm not one to swear). Instead I decided I would sit there, NOT hiding, and listen to the congregation sing. When they realized that there was no organ to back them up, they sang louder. It was beautiful. I had a little spiritual moment in the middle of my embarrassment. I felt like the Lord was telling me "It's fine. See? The congregation knows the song and all is forgiven. You aren't perfect at organ playing and that's ok. You did your best and I accept the sacrifice of your dignity. Here is a beautiful verse of music to listen to while you wait for the next opportunity to come in." Some of the embarrassment went away (not all of it--if it all went away, then I wouldn't remember it) and I sat back and enjoyed the moment.

Then the verse ended, so I cued up the organ for the second verse. All went fine for the rest of the song.

And for the Sacrament hymn and the rest hymn.

Then I had to face the organ again for the closing song. I could play the song, but not very well.

I forged ahead with Onward Christian Soldiers (a hymn I really like). Suddenly, in the middle of the second to last verse, my left hand accidentally pushed one of the buttons, which caused the organ sound to change. I could still play, but the music was a little loud and brassy, even for my taste (I like a good rowsing full range of sound on the organ). I panicked but kept playing like I had done it intentionally. I could hear a few murmurs in the congregation, but nobody threw tomatoes so I calmed myself down.

That beast of an organ seems determined to make my face permanently red.

And I get to face it again in May. Wish me luck. And please don't come to visit our meetings.


Jen said…
It sounds like you handled it well. People understand that you are only human and will make mistakes. I hear our organist slip up once in awhile and pay no mind. We are all entitled to a few hiccups in our lifetimes. I know you will do great in May, too:)
This was no hiccup, this was a full-blown seizure. I do slip-ups all the time.
Jenni said…
I lol-ed. Numerous times. On your account. Very well written!!
Dennis said…
I feel for you. I would have probably crawled inside the organ never to come out. Since I play no musical instruments and can barely sing I appreciate all you (and other organists) do so that I can hear music well played or not it is still something I cannot do.
TaterBean said…
LOL That is my very favorite hymn! I shouldn't laugh, but it did. One time played one line twice and was messed up by the end of it since I didn't realize that I had played it twice. They were finishing while I was still playing I think. Do you remember that? It was at the Bville Ward a couple monthes before I moved. I think that was what happened...either that or I skipped a line, one of the two. But you should learn that hymn on the organ, it's a good one!
TaterBean said…
sorry...*one time I played one line...