It was only six days ago that I received an email from The Rev. Paul Lillie, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (and himself an organist and member of the American Guild of Organists), and the title was “Last Resort?” He asked whether there was any possibility that I could play this Sunday, August 10th, because their organist/choirmaster, Dan Werning, had resigned to pursue other interests and he was having trouble lining up another organist. In fact, he was even toying with the idea of playing the organ himself and finding a supply clergy! (You have to know that organists are in extremely short supply in Honolulu.) Earlier I had already agreed to play the last Sunday in August and the entire month of September. But knowing that my husband, Carl, was in the hospital, Father Lillie felt reluctant to ask, I guess.
So yesterday I took some time off from my hospital vigil to go practice the organ at St. Mark’s in preparation for subbing there this Sunday. I must admit it has been more than a month since I’ve played the organ, and it felt really good. Guess what I’m playing? Bach, of course! The music of Bach is always comforting to me, and it feels like I’m home, in spite of not having touched a keyboard in more than a month.
I know somewhere along the line I’ve said that about 2-3 weeks is my max without touching an organ keyboard before my fingers turn to jelly. Playing a musical instrument like the organ is an athletic activity and it really is better if done every day. In fact, I tell my young students that “practicing the organ is like brushing your teeth or taking a bath. You need to do it every day!” Unfortunately when I’ve asked the question “Do you brush your teeth every day? Do you take a bath every day?” I’ve had answers other than “yes.” (Yikes!)
So I was really relieved to play the organ yesterday and discover I hadn’t forgotten how!
I guess the music of Bach, in spite of its technical challenges, is in my DNA.