The most important lesson learned

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?

The Tiffin, OH Connection
Questions from the AGO Convention
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Heidi Bender writes about her experiences of learning to play the organ. She started on the adventure in 2009.

She also writes on her website Tons of Thanks, which helps people write thank-you notes. Heidi is also a cat lady who writes at The Joy of Cats.

9 thoughts on “The most important lesson learned”

  1. Heidi,
    We like to measure and compare but it is not always beneficial for us. William Bruce Cameron said “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (some people credit Einstein)

  2. Thank you, Heidi. What a day brightener for me to read your recent post. And what a blessing for both of us to meet, considering our similar stories, which are so different than most of the other organists at the convention.

  3. Absolutely at GREAT blog, Heidi!! I did read Ellen’s blogs also….how very interesting her life has been. I understand how she felt about turning 60….all of a sudden you realize you are close to ‘death’s door’….don’t know what it is about that magical number, but it gets worse as you are creeping to 70. Lots and lots of things to ponder upon. She sounds like an awfully busy person and I really give her a ton of credit for all she has accomplished. I also give you a ton of credit for all you have accomplished also. It cannot be an easy road to be on because you need to be so disciplined. Keep up your good, hard work! I’ve heard you play and you underestimate yourself….you are GOOD!!!

    • Thanks Mary Jane for reading and for checking out Ellen’s blog. I’m wondering, when do you hear me play? Did you come stand on my sidewalk and listen while I was practicing?


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