I play for my ward and am having some problems. I practice the hymns and do alright for the opening and sacrament hymns. However, the problems come when I play the intermediate and closing hymns. I sometimes stumble thru the first few notes. By the end of the 1st verse I am doing fine. My organ teacher says I should just play the manuals at first.
How do you get your head into playing after having to resting? do you have any suggestions?
I think you are experiencing a common problem for organists. I do have several suggestions that might help.
Write in Fingerings
The first is simply to make sure you use the same fingerings every time you play a piece. Write them in and be consistent. Muscle memory is so important to playing. If you use the same fingerings every time you play, you will be more likely to play without mistakes.
Practice For Your Situation
This is the suggestion that came to my mind as soon as I read your email. If you are struggling with an aspect of playing, you need to practice that aspect. In this case, you need to approach the organ "cold" and play the piece that you will play after a break. As many times as possible, approach an organ, play the introduction and all the verses of the hymn through, then walk away. This method is easier if you have a home organ.
If you do not have regular access to an organ in your home, or if your chapel is some distance from your house this can be difficult, but can be adapted. When you practice, start your practice with an intermediate or closing hymn. In the middle of your practice session, take a break and walk around the building, use the restroom, get a drink, then return and play your problem hymn again.
You'll soon find playing after a break becomes easier.
Take a Moment to Think
When you do approach the organ after a break in the service, take a moment to review the piece in your mind before beginning to play. It's much better to delay the introduction a few seconds than to start before you are mentally ready.
Also, if it is an issue for you, get the brain out of the way. Remember that your role is to facilitate worship, and that you are playing for the glory of God. Try to make your playing be about Him, not you. Ask for His help, and you will receive it.
Simplify the Introduction
Finally, if you would feel more comfortable, you can simplify the introduction using these techniques, and perhaps prolong it. By the time the congregation begins singing, you should be sufficiently warmed up to play the hymn as you have practiced it.
I believe by following these suggestions, you will soon come to the point where you play without stumbling, even after a long break.
Thanks for reading! I hope these suggestions help.