Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Got Rhythm... And That's All That Matters

I got to church on Sunday in plenty of time to practice the hymns. I looked them over: 138: Bless Our Fast, We Pray; 190: In Memory of the Crucified; and 254: True to the Faith.

"Ok," I thought. "Those shouldn't be too hard." I was mostly worried about 254, since it's a very bold upbeat song, and sounds really great with some fatty foot pedal action. But when I ran through the hymns (on a piano in a different room), the first one gave me the most trouble. It has a lot of accidentals, and the harmonization is already pretty unusual (as far as hymns go) without me adding my own spontaneous renditions (aka mistakes).

At 15 minutes before the hour, I went up to the chapel to play prelude music, but the organ was locked. I started playing the piano instead. When the chorister came in, I asked her who has the keys to the organ, and she walked over and opened it up. Um... I guess I just didn't pull hard enough? Yes, I felt stupid.

But at least it was open, right? I normally like to diddle with the stops for a while to pick what sounds good, but I didn't have time for that. I diddled with the presets instead, and settled on one that was decent.

Fast-forward to the end of the meeting. I'd messed up a lot on all the hymns, and was especially disappointed with my performance of the closing hymn, since I wore the wrong shoes and couldn't use the pedals at all without pushing more than one at a time (and my shoes were velcro and would have made a lot of noise had I taken them off). Oh well. I did the best I could.

What surprised me was how many compliments I received the rest of the day for my organ playing. And why? Because I'd taken hymn 254 at a clipping good tempo, instead of a slow dirge.

It just goes to show: rhythm is more important than accuracy.


schmath said...

That's awesome that you can even play the pedals. I sucked on the organ last week too, only we were doing easy songs, I wasn't doing pedals, and I had bad rhythm. On the first one, I didn't look at the key signature and started playing one sharp instead of one flat. Then I played If You Could High to Kolob at about 60 bpm, when it is marked 80-100. Ryan sat in the congregation thinking, "On no. My wife has become THAT person." (He always talks trash about the chorister because she drags.) I made him rewire my metronome so that the sound doesn't work. Now I can check the tempo before I start.

Oriana said...

Betty, I wish you were our organist. Every hymn sounds like a funeral dirge. I sit in the back, silently urging them to go faster. We have multiple organists and all play the dirges.

Kathleen said...

My first thought is not to make any jokes about "multiple organists." Oh, well. I blew that one. Here's the real comment. The hardest thing I had to learn, and it's only me and my guitar up there, mind you, is that God doesn't care about performance, but heart. If you got compliments, I'd wager it was because you played from the heart. I'll be singing the song I wrote about tithing at this weekend's service, and that's as nerve wracking as it gets, for me.

elegyrl said...

I think you play way better than I do ;) Anyway aside from that I know that if people were complimenting you they had a great reason to! I am sure it was great! I most of the time cannot tell when someone makes a change or messes up while playing! It all sounds beautiful to me!

Veronica said...

Hey, I know you play the piano heck of a lot better than I! I know how to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star...and a few children songs, but that's as good as it gets...haha...

Btw, yeah, there must be some very good reason's why everybody you got some compliments!