Goals Archives - Page 2 of 6 - Heidi Bender

Category Archives for "Goals"

How does that piece go again?

Kilala cat on the organ bench
Kilala cat on the organ bench

My cat Kilala sitting on the organ bench next to me as I practice

At the end of last year, I discovered that I am not able to easily play most of the pieces I have learned.

The revelation

My brother’s family came for about 4 and a half hours away to visit family in the area on New Year’s weekend. Knowing that they were coming, I wanted to be prepared if they asked to come over and hear me play something.

I have been taking lessons for six years so I should be able to put on a mini-concert at my home on demand. Usually, only my cats are around when I am practicing and they do not seem to mind hearing the same assigned pieces over and over again.

I attempted to play the Christmas hymns that I learned in prior years. The next piece I tried was “Oh Love, How Deep”, which I once knew well enough to put on YouTube. The muscle memory was not as strong as it once was! I struggled to play them through.

The habit problem

I have developed a habit of not playing pieces after they get approved at a lesson. I am usually ready to move on to the next newly assigned piece.

Since I’m not performing anywhere on a regular basis, I hadn’t really considered what would happen if I stopped playing what I’ve learned. Well, I found out the hard way!

The new goal

My goal new is to form a new habit where I play already learned pieces on a regular basis, at least once a week. As a result, I will be able to play more than what I am currently learning if someone stops by and wants to hear me play.

I am currently reading “Better Than Before” about forming habits. One suggestion from the book is to giving new habit a rhyme:

An idea expressed in rhyme, seems more convincing that the same idea paraphrased in a non-rhyme, which is why “Haste makes waste”, is more compelling than “Haste fosters error”.

So far, the rhyme I have come up with is “Stay Fresh Refresh”. However, that sounds like it could be a tag line for a deodorant commercial!

What suggestions do you have for the rhyme that will help my new practice habit stick?

Reflections on 5 years of organ lessons (Sept 2009 – Sept 2014)

Reflections on 5 years of Organ Lessons

September 2014 marks the 5th anniversary of when I started organ lessons.  5 years of taking lessons is a huge milestone. My initial goal when starting out was to become a church organist within 5 years. I have not yet reached that goal but that is okay. I will keep practicing! I shared my thoughts on why I’m not giving up last September.

Reflections on 5 years of Organ Lessons

The Organ Lessons:

I’ve had many lessons during the past 5 years. All with Michael Gartz. Beginning with weekly lessons at Adrian college and now lessons every 4-8 weeks when our schedules align to meet at his church. As I’ve learned more about the organ world, I’ve become even more thankful that he was willing to take me on as student. Michael is a wonderful and capable organist and teacher and very patient with me. He has not yet tired of my slow progress! Also, as Michael has changed organist positions I’ve had the opportunity to play several different organs. Currently, lessons are at St. Timothy’s Episcopal church.

Before I started this blog, I kept notes about some of my lessons in an Word document. Here is what I wrote about my first lesson:

Sitting at the organ the first time was amazing. So much power to create at my fingertips and feet! I also felt intimated, this organ has 3 keyboards and many stops and other buttons, and I don’t know how to use them at all.

What a journey it has been. I now know that those buttons are called pistons and I know how to use them!

Here are my reflections on not becoming a church organist in 5 years:

 Learning to play took much longer than expected

 I haven’t always made practice time a priority

 I haven’t practiced enough yet

 It turns out that I did not have a natural knack for the organ (but I do have persistence!)

 I have perfectionism issues! I’ve caused myself some slow progress by having self inflicted tempo issues because of slowing down for harder section and freezing when I play a wrong note. I’d like to think that I’m getting better at learning form my mistakes.

More [positive] reflections:

Back in July, I wrote a post on the lessons I learned since deciding to take organ lessons so I will not repeat them again. The biggest take away I have as I reflect on the past 5 years of lessons, is that I do not have the regret of not starting. What If I had not decided to move forward? I would still be thinking about it. I’d be left wondering “what if had started organ lessons”.

Becoming an organist has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. I’ve struggled at times. I’ve wanted to cry at lessons. I’ve struggled with confidence. All of it has been worth. The feeling that comes with a piece well played is like nothing else. Knowing that my fingers and the feet made that music possible still feels surreal sometimes.

It’s been 5 years so far. It may take another 5 years, but someday I will be a church organist!

Is there anything you’ve been working for 5 years? If you been thinking about it for 5 years, it’s time to take action and get started! No regrets!

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It’s been 3 years – looking back and forward

April 17, 2014

How I decided to become an organist

The question I am most often asked is “Why did you decide to become an organist?

The answers I have given people have not always been the same. I usually respond with a short answer:

Organist Heidi

Organist Heidi Bender

  • My church didn’t have an organist and I thought I could fill that role!
  • Or, I always wanted to try it (not 100% accurate – see below)

Let’s start at the beginning

At my childhood church in Tiffin, OH, the organist was Roma King. I remember feeling mesmerized watching her feet on the pedals. It is possible that I never shared this feeling with anyone. I was a very quiet child. I would like to say that I always wanted to try it. But if I “always” wanted to try it, it sure seems like I would have given the idea more thought before I was in my 20’s. Perhaps, a suppressed desire is a better description.

Skip ahead 15-20 years

When I got married in 2002, I felt a little sad that my church no longer employed an organist. I was not courageous enough back then to seek out an organist to play at my wedding. The idea though of my church not having an organist stayed in the back of my mind.

Fast forward 7 years

In February of 2009, my husband and I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. One of the lessons focused on careers and suggested follow up reading included Dan Miller’s book 48 Days to the Work You Love. An exercise in this book is to write down all the skills you currently have, passions, and interest. Learning the organ showed up on my “interest” list. Another step was to write goals and I put to learn to play the organ within 2 years.

I did not take immediate action. Sometime after writing that goal list, I remember sitting in church on a Sunday morning staring at the empty organ bench. I thought to myself, I can do it! I can learn to play the organ. Then I started looking on the Internet for organists in the area. I discovered Michael Gartz listed as the organist at Adrian College. One June 9, 2009 found the courage to send him an email. I received a response back that same day and he agreed to give me lessons! In September 2009 I started lessons and continue to take them.

Current Day

Since starting lessons, I have learned more about the pipe organ and its role in church services. I love the idea of the pipe organ being used to lead people in singing! This is one reason why I keep going! Becoming an organist is one of the greatest joys of my life.

What do you have an interest in that you’d like to do someday?