Convention Archives - Heidi Bender

Category Archives for "Convention"

August 29, 2013

Pipe Organs at the AGO Region V Convention

Below you will see pictures of the pipe organs played at the American Guild of Organists (AGO) Region V 2013 Convention. I thought this was going to be the fastest post to compile about the convention but it has turned out to be the longest. I wanted to make a photo collage only and had to teach myself how to do it. The original sizes of the pictures were too large to use with online photo editors like iPiccy or PicMonkey as there doesn’t seem to be a way to scale pictures in these programs (if you know how please let me know!). I used GIMP (which is free) and followed this guide on How to Make a Photo Collage.

I hope you enjoy the photos. The first 3 days of the convention were in Kalamazoo, MI and the last day in Battle Creek, MI. Links to each church’s website and stop lists for each pipe organ can be found on the convention’s Venues and Organs page. There is probably a way to embed the links into the photos but I am not sure how to do that yet!

All of the convention posts can be viewed by clicking here.

Kalamazoo, MI Pipe Organs

Kalamazoo, MI Pipe Organs played at the AGO Region V AGO Convention 2013

Battle Creek, MI Pipe Organs

Battle Creek, MI Pipe Organs played at the AGO Region V AGO Convention 2013

August 13, 2013

Questions from the AGO Convention

Waiting for the concert to begin. Pipe organ can be seen in the balcony.

Waiting for the concert to begin. Pipe organ can be seen in the balcony.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the organist convention was meeting new people. There were many chances to interact with the other attendees at concerts, meals, and workshops. The same questions were asked many times. I suppose they could be considered organist ice breakers!

 Here are the 4 most asked questions:

  • Where are you from?

I live in Adrian, MI. Many people were not familiar with Adrian. It’s about a hour northwest of Toledo, OH and about a hour southwest of Ann Arbor, MI.

  • Are you a student? and/or Where do you go to school?

I may have looked like a traditional college aged student to some. That made me feel good! I explained that I am an adult student taking private lessons. I didn’t think to say this at the convention, but I am a home schooled student. I do nearly all of my practicing at home.

  • Where do you practice?

Most organists practice at church or on their school’s organ(s). I have an electronic Saville organ at home that I use for practicing.  I met several others that also had electronic organs and one lady that has a pipe organ in her home. An organist convention is one of the few places where having an organ in my living room doesn’t make me unique.

  • What church do you play at?

I do not play at a church yet. This was the question I wish I could have answered differently. Someday I will play at a church. I received lots of encouragement to keep practicing and learning hymns. I will also need to improve my sight reading skills.

 What questions do you have for me? Post them below and I will answer them.

The most important lesson learned

g To Someone Else's Middle

I learned an important lesson at the American Guild of Organists (AGO) convention. There is a story leading up to it.

The concert on Tuesday evening was at the First Baptist Church of Kalamazoo. Another concert earlier in the week was also at this church. For a different perspective, I decided to sit in the balcony. This is where I met Ellen. During intermission, Ellen shared that she had a blog. I felt excited to meet another organist that blogs! Her blog is and I encourage you to check it out. When Ellen was 57 she set a goal to play 60 pipe organs before she turned 60. And she did it! Her blog documents her adventure. And like me, Ellen learned to play the organ as an older adult. She was her 50’s with many years experience on the piano and is still a piano teacher.

Lesson LearnedOn Wednesday, the convention was in Battle Creek, MI. Dinner was a buffet at one of the churches. When I was in the buffet line, Ellen recognized me, joined me and we decided to dine together along with a few others. Ellen and I talked more about how we got to where we are now. I shared that I had anxiety around meeting the young organists currently in college or university. They are much farther along in their abilities than me. Ellen’s words of wisdom: “Their journey is not my journey” and that is the lesson that I learned.

I should not compare myself to them. I can’t go back in time and ask my parents to provide me with organ lessons as a child. Back then, I didn’t even know I wanted to be an organist. Those in their early twenties earning degrees should be better than me. That seems logical now as they have been practicing for many more years than I have. And as Jon Acuff says “Don’t Compare your middle to someone’s middle”. Comparing ourselves to others is rarely beneficial.

Is this lesson for you too? Do you need to stop comparing yourself to others in a different phase of their journey?

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