March 2015 Lesson – confidence and showing improvement

Last Saturday, I had my latest organ lesson with Michael. I didn’t have a lesson in February as the day we were scheduled to meet there was too much snow. At this lesson, I learned that my organ playing skills have improved more than I was aware.


Showing Improvement

I started the lesson by playing the hymn “O Food to Pilgrims Given”. This hymn was a challenge for me to learn. The harmonization was done by J.S. Bach. I chose this hymn to be first as I felt confident that I could play it well enough for a passing mark from Michael.

Michael commented that a while back I would not have been able to play this hymn successfully. I do not remember what time period he said but that doesn’t really matter. What does matter is hearing that I am improving.

After all these years of lessons, I sometimes feel like I am not getting any better. Micheal’s comment proves I am making improvements even when I fail to give myself credit!


I need to continue to work on my confidence. About 2 months had passed since my last lesson. That is a long time to be primarily playing only for my cats.

When I began playing for Michael I felt very nervous. I had to restart “O Food to Pilgrims Given” a couple of times as I was playing wrong notes and adjusting to a different organ. This is something I need to work on. When I have a church position, there will not be “do overs” when I am playing a hymn for the congregation.

At the end of the lesson, I received a boost in my confidence from Michael. He assigned a new piece that is nearly 7 minutes long! The piece is No. 2 Cantabile from 3 pieces for organ – by Cesar Franck (FWV 36). We had not discussed this at prior lessons. To be assigned a longer piece is another sign of my improvement and Michael’s confidence in me!

Can I do better?

As I was deciding what to share about my lesson, I read the latest article from the Bullet Proof Musician blog: Evidence That We Are Capable of More Awesomeness Than We Think. The article discusses how people can perform 2% better when pushed (or deceived) into doing so. I feel encouraged that I CAN do better than my current rate of improvement.

I need to take action to make it happen! Perhaps my next lesson will be my best lesson ever!

I’ve updated my assignment page to include my latest assignments. In addition to the Franck piece, I was assigned a new hymn (another one that I do not know).

A note about the photo: I didn’t take any photos at this lesson, so I decided to share a cat photo. Kilala was sitting on the bench with me while I was practicing. She’s not looking at the music, but at Violet the gray cat who was on top of the organ (left side of photo). Learn more about my cats here.

What have you done to overcome challenges with confidence and making progress?

Keeping the kittens out of the organ!
4 reasons to watch a silent movie with live organ
Website | + posts

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.

5 thoughts on “March 2015 Lesson – confidence and showing improvement”

  1. Just discovered your blog (I was searching for Walcha’s Ah Holy Jesu) – so pleased to have found you.
    Tonight I have my fifth organ lesson and need to be able to play my polished version of the prelude – it’s good to read your experiences and hear of your growing confidence at the organ.


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