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

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!

You may also like:

It’s been 3 years – looking back and forward

Ideas for increasing attendance at pipe organ concerts
Can anyone become an outlier in their profession or hobby?
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.

8 thoughts on “Reflections on 5 years of organ lessons (Sept 2009 – Sept 2014)”

  1. Heidi you are doing a great job !!! It may have been easier when the lessons were weekly but persistence
    is paying off. You have been faithful working towards your goal. I am not an organ pro so everything sounds good to me.

  2. I admire your pluck, Ms. Bender. Your observations are useful to novice organists. I have only been working on the instrument for 50 years. I play routinely for services and special community cantatas. I do a fair amount of all-genre music promotion, including new organists. My main channel is:

    Dutch organist, Gert van Hoef is one of my favorite new organists. Please give some of his work a listen when your schedule permits.

    Thank you for sharing your post.


Leave a Comment