So many people came up to me today at church to comment on our Young Organists Concert last night—both those who attended as well as those who couldn’t make it for one reason or another. I’m happy to report that we had a very good crowd — well over a hundred people — and we took in more than $1,000 in offerings to the Scholarship Program! What was even more gratifying was to see so many kids in the audience: future students or audience members?
As I told a number of people today, there certainly has been progress in the students’ skills from year to year, as well as changes in their physical bodies —children grow so fast! In fact, one of the students last night said he had outgrown his shoes, and borrowed another boy’s organ shoes just for the night!
I find that younger children are absolutely fearless, and therefore perform almost flawlessly. Older children become more self-conscious, and in fact, I’ve heard that performing in front of an audience is like standing up there naked! Organists should be grateful, though, that they have their backs to the audience and don’t have to look at anybody!
For myself, performing has also become a journey. When I was very young and had to play piano recitals, I wanted to hold ice cubes in my hands right up to the time of the recital (which I did!) Why I thought ice cubes would help with the nerves, I have no idea.
As a performer, I’ve experienced the worst — my knees shaking uncontrollably, and my fingers leaving pools of perspiration on the keys — as well as the best — feelings of exhilaration when every note has fallen into place.
I’ve got to admit that playing the organ every Sunday for the last 45 years has certainly reduced the jitters. However, when I have a particularly challenging piece to play, I will grit my teeth, hold my breath and Go for It!