Tuesday, November 17, 2009

If I Pass Out, Keep Singing

Every Christmas my stake puts on an enormous creche festival. It runs for 3 nights and people can wander around looking at the hundreds of nativities on display or they can listen to the musical numbers the community puts on and there are poinsettias and twinkle lights and a miniature town of Bethlehem and cutout plywood sheep and it's big, big, BIG. The grand finale is the Hallelujah chorus. The music is passed around and everyone joins in and sings. And this year I have to play the piano for it.

And I'm trying really hard to not curl up and die. Because this sort of thing terrifies me.

You see, I have fooled everyone into thinking that I can play the piano well because I can play the hymns well. But I play the hymns well because I've had 20 years of practice. And, hymns are easy. The Hallelujah chorus = the opposite of easy.

Now, there are some things to be thankful for. The first and most important is that I don't have to play it on the organ. Because you can't imagine how many heart attacks I would have if I had to. The second is that the missionary choir will be the last group to perform which means they will be up on the stand and everyone knows that the one thing missionaries are good at besides eating their weight in lasagna is singing really loud. So I'm hoping they will drown me out. The third is that when people sing the Hallelujah chorus they either know it and sing it with gusto, no matter how muddled the piano playing is, or they don't know it and are so engrossed in keeping up that they don't pay attention to the pianist passing out.

I will tell you this, if I do make it through without passing out, I will shimmy with joy.

In other musical news: My Reign of Terror on the organ has come to an end. The good people of my ward can give a collective sigh of relief. Although I secretly believe that they will miss my super slow rendition of "True to the Faith"* and my sometimes questionable stop combinations. Don't worry folks, once an organist, always an organist. I'll be back.

*The Hardest Song in the Hymnal. Also, the Song Our Chorister Loved to Have us Sing on a Regular Basis until I Put the Eternal Kibosh on Her Ever Choosing it Again.


Stephanie said...

It sounds wonderful and truly inspiring. You'll do mahvelous - simply mahvelous.

And you WILL shimmy!

Love you!

dad said...

I've always thought that there are three levels of people who sit at the organ at church. From the top, they are: organist, organ player, organ grinder. Where do you rate yourself?

Amanda said...

You are a good kind of person. You said yes. I have realized that saying no to church stuff isn't a sin. :) I still say yes to callings, but I've gotten much more picky about other stuff.
"Will you watch my children?" from a random church lady who wants to go get a pedicure. NO!
"Will you take your newborn baby to Youth Conference overnight?" NO!
"I heard you have a truck and I don't want to pay someone to tow my broken car. Can you do that for me? Oh, yeah, the car doesn't start." NO!
Maybe I won't get into heaven, but I'm not quite as busy or stressed.

jessica said...

As a fellow organ player and person who has perfected playing the hymns and not much else, I sympathize and wish you luck! I'm sure it will turn out well.

Is that Creche Festival a California thing? When we lived in sunny CA, our Stake did a Creche Festival every year too.

Rach said...

You can do it! The one great thing about playing something like that is that you're actually playing something that was written for a pianist, and not a choir, so you won't have to make impossible reaches with your left hand. Plus, you are the "make it work" queen.

Amanda, I've discovered the same thing. When the RS pres. calls and asks me to play the piano in stake leadership meeting the night before (I am not a pianist), I say no. When she asks me to come to a funeral of someone I've never even heard of, just so there are more people there, even though I have a 2-week-old, I say no. There are limits.

And you're right, Rachel, that is the hardest hymn in the hymn book.

Mary P said...

I thought "God of Our Fathers" was the hardest in the hymnbook to play?

No...never mind, that's the one you can use when singing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider".

Angela said...

Whenever our organist arrives late or is sick, I see the branch presidency eye me up from the stand - sometimes their eyebrows even dance in my direction, pleading. I smile as graciously as possible, make my way to the piano (note, I dare not go near The Giant Thing with Pipes and Pedals), and there I take a few deep breaths before placing two hands onto the keys, frantically scanning for the little intro-indicators, and then I play the intro (with at least one mistake), and then my left-hand pretty much drops out for the rest of the piece if it's got more than 2 flats or 2 sharps. Sigh. Yet, they look to me again and again.

The Katzbox said...

As a person with no musical training, I will tell you this. If the person playing the piano OR organ makes a mistake, it never, ever, ever, has made an impact on me....ever. In fact, if they make multiple mistakes, I have to resist running over to them and hugging them afterwards because I feel an increase of love.

In other words, I don't think you can lose. Get ready to shimmy.

rachelsaysso said...

Dad, I'm an organ player but only because I don't have a tasselled vest or fez hat.

colleeeen said...

I can supply you with a fez if you so desire. I have a spare.