Welcome to The LDS Organist Blog

The purpose of this blog is to help pianists learn to become true organists. Many individuals believe that if you play the piano you can play the organ, but the instruments differ greatly. While this blog is specifically geared towards members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, much of the information shared can be utilized by all. I hope that the information I share here will help you become an effective organist in your ward, stake, or other congregation.

Feel free to browse and search this blog. It was started in January 2010 and while new posts aren't added very often, this blog contains a wealth of information and is a wonderful resource for all organists. If you're a new reader, you can find the first lesson here: Before We Begin: Acquiring the Essentials. Also, please "like" the corresponding facebook page, which is updated more often. A link is provided on the right sidebar, or you can click here.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Getting the brain out of the way

For the past month I have been preparing for my first official performance on the organ. I've accompanied wards and branches before, but never played a solo in public, not counting prelude and postlude. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to ensure that my technique, notes, and tempo were flawless. I practiced hours each day and felt I was making good progress. Three days before the concert, I left my home organ to practice on my church's organ. That evening I recorded my progress and was unable to play without making major mistakes. When my memory card filled up I was able to once again play the pieces perfectly.

That night, on my facebook page I asked, "How do you get your brain out of the way during performances? I rarely play for anyone other then me and my instructor, and when I need to perform I'm so analytical that I mess everything up. I just want my brain to shut off and let the music come out the way I've practiced it. Any tips (other than playing more in public)?"

Some good advice was shared, including:

"Tell yourself, 'It will be good enough,' and it will!"

"I try to shift the focus off of me. I think about the people who are in the audience and try to play well for them, or the organizer of the event or whoever asked me to play and try to play well for them. It helps me to remember I'm playing for other's enjoyment and not just for my own pride or glory."

I was also referred to the 2008 BYU organ workshop keynote address by Parley L. Belnap called Controlling our Thoughts.

Basically, I needed to tell myself that I had done everything humanly possible to prepare, and whatever happened, happened. As President Monson is fond of saying, "When the time for decision [or in this case, performance] arrives, the time for preparation is past.” I had put in the preparation, and I just needed to trust my efforts and let go so that I could enjoy the ride. I ended up playing my pieces for a branch and a ward prior to the concert, and in both services the pieces went very well and I truly added to the spirit of the meeting. I was playing to worship and enhance worship, it showed, and my congregation sang like I'd never heard them sing before! It was wonderful.

Finally it was time for the concert. There was a mix-up with scheduling so we didn't start for another 35 minutes. It was a lot of fun to listen to and sing with each organist. The pipe organ didn't have any programmable pistons, so we relied on the other organists to change our stops. When it was my turn, I started my hymn a little too fast, in my exuberance to have my turn on the organ, but it went well. When it was time for the final verse, I had a few people changing stops for me--unplanned! I got a little frazzled and not only came in a little late, but totally flubbed the first part of that verse. Surprisingly, it didn't matter! I had a great time, and laughed it off and my husband said that no one even noticed. (I don't know if I believe it, but I bet no one remembers today.)

The audience was appreciative, it was an enjoyable evening, and we played to serve others and to celebrate the Christmas season. Somehow that was enough.

1 comment:

  1. One time I was sitting at the piano while the choir was coming up to the stand, and I was extremely nervous. I usually don't get that nervous, and I was worried about how it would affect my performance. It suddenly occurred to me that my concern about messing up came from pride. I was more worried about how I would look, than how the choir would look, or how the song would be presented. When I had that thought, I immediately switched gears in my head, and focused on making the choir sound good. My nervousness went away! Whenever I get nervous before playing, I always sort of think "It's not about me." :)