Confidence Archives - Page 3 of 4 - Heidi Bender

Category Archives for "Confidence"

August 2015 Lesson – When it feels like you are never going to get it

Going into my lesson last Saturday I felt confident that I would receive a passing mark on 4 of my 6 assigned pieces. I didn’t obtain approval on any piece! My performance at this lesson was disappointing.

Tabs on the right are completed hymns. Tabs on the top are currently assigned.

Tabs on the right are completed hymns. Tabs on the top are currently assigned. (Violet’s tail is visible on far right side)

When it feels like you are never going to get it

I sat on the organ bench hearing again that the tempo isn’t quite right. And syncopation continues to be my nemesis. Lesson after lesson, the same issues are repeated. I sometimes feel like I am never going to get it!

The fugue from Prelude and Fugue in F Major (BWV 556) has now been on my assignment list for 2 years! For at least the last 6 months, Michael has said “I’m going to need to hear at one more lesson”.

I wanted to cry. But didn’t. How could this be happening again after I felt so confident before my lesson?

After my last lesson, I felt like subdividing was going to fix all my problems! It turns out that I have a tendency to slow down and speed up my subdividing in the same way as when I play without subdividing.

Why aren’t you giving up?

Now, you may be wondering why I am going through the hassle. Why not give up? It’s been almost 6 years of taking lessons and I have not obtained a position at a church.

I am not giving up because I am persistent. Even though my lesson felt like a failure, Michael pointed out that I have persistence on my side. And he said that I was able to do things at this lesson that I could not have done a year ago. I was able to make some corrections on the spot. I am slowly making progress even when it doesn’t feel like I am.

Learning a piece for 2 years sounds like a very long time. However, I only practice 2 to 3 hours a week which is not a much time per piece.

Reflections also helps as I can appreciate how far I’ve come. In the photo, the sticky tabs on the side of the hymnal are those that I have successfully learned so far from this hymnal (I’ve learned some from another hymnal as well). Each tab represents a success! This proves that I can fix the issues.

I have the tools to correct the problems and I’ve done it in the past.

What if you feel like you are never going to get it?

If you are in similar situation where you are learning something and feel like you are never going to get it, I encourage you to not give up. Be persistence. Follow your teacher or mentor’s advice. Use the tools that you have. And keep practicing as practicing is what it takes to improve! Believe that you can do it. Stay positive. Pray.

Replace bad habits with a new habit that will move you forward. For me, that means learning a piece correctly from the start by being disciplined and utilizing the techniques that Michael has taught me. I also need to be recording myself at each practice session and check my tempo/rhythm/subdividing with metronome.

Another habit I need to change is not playing something for a couple of weeks after I feel comfortable with it. Then since it is “out of practice” when my lesson comes, I do not play it as well as I could at my lesson and it gets added to the “one more lesson” list.

I need to reread The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business!

Did you ever feel like you were never going to get it? Did you eventually get it? Share you success story in a comment! Your story could inspire someone to keep going.

You may also like:

Persistence – The one thing you need to become an organist or anything else as an adult

January 20, 2014

How I survived a gas leak

New gas meter with leaking pipe fittings.

New gas meter with leaking pipe fittings.

This post will be different from the usual as it is a story from the non-organist part of my life. It’s the story of the gas leak.

In early January Winter Storm Hercules provided ample opportunity for shoveling snow. We do not own a snow blower so we decided to keep up with the snow by shoveling a few times during the storm. We reasoned that it is easier to shovel 3 inches of snow at one time than 10 inches.

When I went out for the final shovel of the evening I spent about 20 minutes shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. The last bit to shovel was the front step. A small but important area as that is where our mailbox resides. This is when the drama began as I smelled gas on the front step!

At first I tried to talk myself out of it. What are the odds of actually having a gas leak? Pretty low, I would guess. The smell was not constant. I only got it a whiff ever now and then. Maybe I was imagining it. I decided to wait for Ted (my husband) to come home and see if he could smell it to have a group consensus. I went into the house, feeling paranoid, that my house/neighborhood was about to explode.

Ted was not due home for another 45 minutes. There was no logical reason as to why my mind would imagine the smell of a gas. I decided to call my mom for her opinion. If I maybe smelled gas should I call the gas company? After two calls and advice from my dad I called the gas company “just to be safe”.

The gas bill had come that very day. I didn’t have to search for an old bill or check their website for the number. There it was sitting on the table, waiting to be recycled. I began to think it was not a coincidence that I (probably) smelled gas the same day that the bill came. The person was very nice and said calling was right decision. Better to have it checked out.

The on call technician arrived in less than 10 minutes, even with all the snow. He came inside first and checked the basement. No signs of gas inside. Then he asked where the gas meter was. It was very cold out so I waited at the door as he went around the corner of the house to the gas meter. I could hear his gas checking tool. At first, it was heard just a few beeps. But then, when he was at the gas meter the tool started beeping as fast as it could! I don’t think it could have beeped any faster.

Lesson Learned: Trust my instincts!!!

The gas technician came back to the door  and shared that the face plate on the gas meter was leaking gas. He had a new meter in his truck. At 10 PM, in the snow and very cold temperatures, he replaced our gas meter. I held the flash light. He had it replaced in about 10 minutes. He also pointed out that we need to be clearing snow away from the air intake from our furnace. The air intake is only a couple of feet from the gas meter.

Snow lining the driveway

Snow lining the driveway

We believe the problem was solved. A few days later along comes Winter Storm Ion. This meant more shoveling! One the final shovel of that night I made sure the furnace air intake was not covered with snow. And I smelled gas again! It was a light smell, not as heavy as the first incident, but I could still smell it. This time it was extremely cold. I called the emergency number again. About a hour later, the technician arrived (the roads were very snow covered by then).

He checked with the gas checker tool. The beeps were slow. He discovered a very small leak in a pipe fitting. He said when the meter was replaced the fitting probably came loose. He also said it was not a dangerous situation so he did not replace anything in the dark and freezing temperatures. The following week, all of the pipes and fittings were replaced.

I survived a gas leak by calling the emergency number when I smelled gas. Perhaps, we were never in any eminent danger. However, smelling gas results in an unsettling feeling.

I like to take inspirational ideas from my organ lessons and share how they can be applied to real life situations. With the gas leak situation, I’ve been pondering how could I apply what I learned (to trust my instinct) to my organ practice. Here is what I have come up with: If something sounds wrong it probably is (unless it is dissonant by design). I do not have confidence when practicing. My instinct will tell me if it is right or wrong. I need to trust myself and quickly adjust and fix the wrong notes.

How do you think I could apply this real life lesson to my organ practice or to your life?

April 29, 2013

Confidence and practice technique – April 2013 Lesson

Last Saturday at my lesson two themes emerged: confidence and practice technique.


I have been learning the hymn “All Creatures of Our God and King” for several months. I choose to start my lesson with this piece. I was nervous as it had been 6 weeks since my last lesson. Also, I had lost a week of practice time due to illness. When I am nervous, my playing sounds nervous. My first couple of attempts did not go so well. Finally, Michael told me to focus. He knew I could do it. Then I played the hymn much better. I need to learn to have confidence going into to a lesson as eventually as I will need confidence once I am ready for public performances.

Practice Technique:

We ended the lesson with Fugue from Prelude and Fugue in C Major (BWV 553) which I have been working on for over a year. I am still having issues with holding a consistent tempo (speed). I slow down for harder sections and speed up for easier sections. This is not a new problem and has been discussed at many lessons. The problem is with how I practice. I keep doing the same things over and over again which ingrain the wrong habits into my brain.

Albert Einstein described insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

To combat this insanity Michael suggested I practice in small sections, only 3 or 4 measures at a time, alternating with and without the metronome. I should also record myself so that I can get better at critiquing myself and hearing my problems on my own.

Overall, the lesson went well and it was a joy to play the pipe organ. The picture below was taken from the balcony just before my lesson began. As you may remember, the organ at Trinity Episcopal Church is in the balcony. This is the organist’s view of the nave from the balcony.

Organist’s view from balcony at Trinity Episcopal Church