Upcoming Performances

February 12
8:00 pm Eastern

Organ-plus-one concert with ASU faculty, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

February 24
3:00 pm Eastern

Organ/Piano duo concert with Joseph Trivette, Sinking Spring Presbyterian Church, Abingdon, Va.

April 26
8:00 pm Eastern

Collaborative Organist, ASU University Singers, Rosen Concert Hall, Appalachian State University

April 28
3:00 pm Eastern

Guest recitalist, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Kingsport, Tenn.

May 5
4:00 pm Central

Guest recitalist, St. Paul's Cathedral, Des Moines, Iowa

June 21-26, 2020
Worship Organist, Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, Lake Junaluska, N.C.

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I'm not making this up, you know

Have any of these ever happened to you?

1. The preacher of the day asks you to push hymn tempos along, using vague words such as “upbeat,” “fast,” “energetic,” “peppy,” or “lively.”

2. A hymn is cut from a Sunday service because the preacher of the day doesn’t recognize it.

3. A hymn in a minor key is cut because the preacher of the day deems minor a downer.

4. The preacher of the day wants to insert a hymn into the service (the very same one he inserted the last four times he preached).

5. The preacher of the day insists that the solo or anthem after the first hymn never be slow or in a minor key.

6. The preacher of the day refuses to walk in the procession because it distracts him from his preaching duties that day.

7. Someone makes announcements while you are playing: “Jill and Brantley would like to invite you to the reception in the fellowship hall…” “License plate SYC5483 has left lights on…” “Will the parents of…”

8. The preacher of the day fills up time at the next service just because the previous service ended early.

9. The congregation can’t get enough of you or the organ, but the pastor asks you to pull back on the volume.

10. The preacher of the day turns up his mic and sings at the top of his lungs – in a tempo at the other end of the spectrum from your introduction to the hymn.

11. The associate pastor is already into the first words of welcome and announcements while the final chord of the prelude is still reverberating in the rafters.

I’m not making any of this up! All this and more has happened to me and surely to other Readers. As evidenced in my list of complaints above, I tend to complain most about liturgical clumsiness and lack of professional respect. Bumbling, haphazard approaches to liturgy, music, and worship are unacceptable to me. And preachers do things during our music that they would never tolerate during their sermons.

It is tempting to complain and stop there, as witnessed by blogs and listservs that have longer lists of complaints than solutions. But what might be some solutions to achieving professional deference in both directions (not to mention helping that preacher overcome being victimized in the past by minor keys and slow tempos)?

It helps me to define the balance in my approach between the ministerial and the professional. Am I a minister of music, or am I a professional musician that day, that conversation? That balance moves back and forth, depending on the situation. Once I have defined the parameters for a conversation, then I can find a compassionate solution, which does exist. Trouble is, these things often come up so fast that there is no time to talk them all through with the perpetrators. Often, I must live with a certain baseline level of continuing snafus.

Clergy don’t know as much as we do about liturgy and music, but we don’t know how many people have complained to the clergy about the organist. Everyone hang in there and keep searching for solutions. The solution is a two-way street. Drive on the correct side, and don’t park in the No Parking zones.

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