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.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Oops! There were three verses?

Today in our worship service, the congregation was singing along, ready to begin the final verse of the hymn, but the organist was done, and not looking at the music director.  After what seemed like a long time, but was only a few seconds, the music director realized that the organist wasn't planning on another verse, so she sat down.

Has this ever happened to you?  I know as a beginning organist, when I was so worried about playing the right notes that I couldn't follow the verses very well (especially on hymns with a chorus, or with a music director who followed the organ's entrances), I was terrified that I would stop playing the hymn a verse early, or begin playing an extra verse that wasn't there.  Fortunately, changing registration after every verse, and writing those changes in at the end of the hymn can help a beginning organist feel more secure that this won't happen to them.  Also, it's important to watch the music director until you are sure the hymn is over!

While this experience has never happened to me, thank goodness, there have been times in my playing when I was watching the music director very nervously, wondering if the chorus I was playing was the final verse, or if I needed to play one more.

Today's experience made me curious: Has this ever happened to you?  What's the most embarrassing playing experience you've had?


  1. It has happened to me, just the other day in fact. I thought we were done. I have also accidentally hit the pedals with my feet and ruined the silence. Now I make sure to cancel the sound at the end of each song.

  2. It has not happened to me although I often have the thought "is this the final verse?" Luckily I usually sing along with the hymns so I know where we are. I have had a chorister stop too early once or twice - that's quite the experience. In those cases the congregation followed me. I have also been the chorister and had the organist drop out all together. We were singing for the strength of the hills and when we hit the bass run the pianist stopped playing - we sang the rest of the hymn - all verses accapella!

  3. Last week was my first time playing for sacrament meeting in this particular ward. So although I'd anticipated needing more volume while playing than while practicing (because the congregation soaks up lots of sound), I hadn't anticipated the full amount of extra volume I'd need (our ward is fairly huge). While adding stops frantically, I failed to notice the "alternate voices" setting was on. So instead of adding a flute in the middle of the sacrament hymn, I added a solo trumpet. Oops.

  4. On my LDS mission in France, we had only an antiquated electronic keyboard to accompany the singing. It sometimes malfunctioned, and one time while I was playing the sacrament hymn the volume started randomly changing from very soft to extremely loud. There was nothing I could do about it and it was very distracting, but I just kept playing. After a short while, one of the counselors leaned over to me and told me to stop playing at the end of the current verse. The chorister was a perfectionist-type lady who was always very eager to 'show-off' her talents in front of people. She had no idea I had been told to stop, so when the beginning of the next verse came, I didn't play. However, she (very confidently and loudly) sang the first note/word of the next verse in her loud-operatic voice in absolute silence. She immediately stopped singing once she realized she was alone, and then someone in the congregation couldn't restrain themselves and let out a loud laugh at the hilarity of the situation. She quickly sat down. Her humiliation quickly overshadowed my own, and I had a slight chuckle to myself.

  5. It has happened to me, although I caught it in time to be able to finish all verses. The most embarrassing thing I've done, it start to play the wrong hymn. I get so nervous that I know I'm going to forget to turn to the next hymn after I'm finished with one. I always try to remember, but I'm human just like everybody else.

  6. I did witness this once during a wonderful service and it felt like a souflé that collapses after it was taken out of the over to early. You could feel the energy of confusion from the congregation and the presiding priest surprised look. So yes, the organist needs to pay attention to the conductor.

  7. I witnessed the opposite in a stake conference held in an auditorium a few years back. Both the organist and director were well trained. After the 1st line of the third verse they realized no one was singing and stopped. Since we were in an auditorium, no hymn books were available. The handout only had verses 1 and 2. Since that time, I've always tried to review the stake conference handouts to see how many verses are included.

  8. A few years ago, I had the misfortune of broken piston cause all kinds of fun. I had the pistons programmed...I thought. Number 4 had some mechanical problems and didn't set right. Between verses of the hymn I pushed Number 4. All the stops turned off and the top popped off the piston and flew right past me into the choir seats! That half second of time where you realize what happened just as you start the next verse and there's no sound seems very very long. Pushed another piston and we finished the song. Of course it was a little ragged because I was trying so hard not to laugh...