January 2015 Lesson: Forgetting about the singers and the easy way out

Last Saturday, I had another organ lesson. I was hopeful going into that at least some of the pieces would get a passing mark. That did not happen. Overall, I am still have issues with playing an even tempo.

I have shown improvement but the pieces still need a little bit more work. Michael gave me some suggestions on correcting them. Some of them are very close. Helmut Walcha’s chorale prelude of “Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen” is very close – 93% of the way there! Since I enjoy the piece so much, we decided that I should keep working on it until my next lesson.

Learning “Christ, Mighty Savior” – taking the “easy” way out

Christ Mighty Savior
Christ Mighty Savior from the United Methodist Hymnal

One of the hymns that I am learning is “Christ, Mighty Savior.” This is the first hymn, where I’ve encountered chords that contain 3 notes to be played at the same time. Playing consecutive chords with 3 notes with the lowest note and highest note an octave apart was a stretch .

When I was learning this hymn at home, I decided to avoid the stretch. My hands are smaller than some organists, but not so small that I could not play the chords. I decided to play most of the lowest notes of the 3 note chords in with my left hand.

That seemed easier, but I learned at my lesson that this may have made it harder for me to learn it. Rather than dealing with the awkwardness and stretching a bit, I took what seemed like the easier route. I also did not give myself a chance at increasing my skill level. 

The Life Lesson: Sometimes a different or new why seems harder so we take the easy way out. If we give the new/different way a chance, it may have turn out to be easier. And result in learning something new.

What about the singers?”

After I played “Christ, Mighty Savior” less than perfectly for Michael he said “What about the singers?” I’ve been so focused on playing the right notes that played it without articulation. Repeated notes were not repeated. Phrasing was not done that would allow singers (the congregation, if there was one) to take a breathe!

I found my neglect a bit ironic. I want to learn hymns so that someday I can play for a congregation and here I was given them no thought at all!

Other lesson accomplishments

I made enough progress that I was assigned another hymn: “Arise, Shine Out, Your Light Has Come” (lyrics are here). I am not familiar with this hymn and look forward to learning it.

There were other people at the church preparing stuff for Sunday. Sometimes they came into the sanctuary. I didn’t feel as nervous as in the past. I was able to focus like they were not there.

This was another lesson where I didn’t sweat through my shirt! Excessive sweating has been a problem when I’m nervous. The decreased sweat level confirms that I am getting more comfortable playing in front of others (besides my cats!!!).

If you have a favorite life lesson share it in the comments!

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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.

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