Ill Suited for the Task

In second grade, I started taking piano lessons with my aunt, my Dad’s older sister. It wasn’t negotiable. My three brothers had done this as well. I was a mediocre student at best, my aunt had little interest in allowing me to try some song that I liked, from a musical perhaps, and so I trudged on as best I could.

Finally, when I had finished 6th grade, I quit and went on to take organ lessons from a remarkable organist at a Methodist church not far from my home. It was the only way I could figure out how to get out from under piano lessons with my aunt.

I took organ lessons for a couple of years, then left that behind. I often received requests to play the organ for funerals during my high school years. Many good musicians had day jobs — I was a kid who wasn’t in the workforce yet, so I was available to play for funerals. I only played for one or two weddings and swore I would never do that again. But funerals were reasonably straightforward. Much of the service was spoken, not sung, and the hymns were generally well known.

Currently, I fill in for the regular organist at our church every third week or so. I no longer feel confident in playing the organ, so when I pinch-hit for Isaac, I do so on the piano. Even so, I generally screw up. A younger skilled musician has shared some tips to make the task easier. I will attempt that this coming Sunday. I am grateful, beyond measure, for the pay; and nervous, in equal measure, for the job.  Musically trained people are kind and withhold their comments while the congregation pays me for my attempt.

Long ago, I earned a Master of Divinity degree after training to be a Lutheran Pastor.  I was approved for ordination, but life intervened, and I have never been ordained a pastor.  Looking back, I think I did that task rather well, while musicianship I regularly fail.   Such is life. Sometimes we are asked to tackle jobs beyond our comfort zones.

Lord have mercy.  Christ have mercy.  Lord have mercy.


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4 Responses to Ill Suited for the Task

  1. Jan Seibel says:

    I have always appreciated your talents and admired your organ playing. I do regret not encouraging my children with piano lessons. It’s a skill that can be carried on through life and often times a resource of relaxation for many.

  2. AECRM says:

    Thanks, Jan! I love playing, I guess I just need to play more often & hone my skills so I don’t get so worried when I have to play for worship! Thanks again for your comment.

  3. Jane Jennings says:

    I teach piano lessons, but am very rusty and avoid having to play for anyone, except students. Practicing just has no appeal for me!

  4. AECRM says:

    Thanks, Jane, I am so sorry to hear that — but, frankly, with your talent if you feel that way, I feel much better. It is very stressful for me — but the regular organist has another job — and can’t make it every week. Perhaps one of these days I can help by contributing to a fund to pay a substitute! Cheers!

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