In yesterday’s post, I described only the daytime of my first day of “retirement” — I didn’t tell you about my activity last night when I spent several hours creating a “playbook” for this weekend’s services at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.
Back in the days when I was the organist at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, I probably had three or four different hymnals on the organ bench — and sometimes used all of them depending upon what harmonization of the hymn I was going to play. I would then stack all of the organ music (including separate hymn introductions and alternate harmonizations) in service order on the music rack, resulting in a stack of music perhaps three or four inches thick. (Most of the organ pieces came out of organ collections, with many other pieces in the books.) The accompaniments to the liturgy I kept in a separate 3-ring binder which I placed on the other side of the organ bench and brought up to the music rack as necessary at the appropriate times of the service. The choral music I kept in yet another stack on the organ bench. It was truly a juggling act, but miraculously through nearly 35 years on the bench, I was able to get through the service 95% of the time without having all the music fall over or not having the music handy and ready to play. (At least I think it was 95% of the time! Carl would probably have said otherwise!)
Now that I’m a “professional organist substitute,” I photocopy all the music I’m going to use (except for my organ music) and put it into a “playbook” — a special binder which holds photocopies in plastic sleeves and lays flat. All of the hymns, liturgy and choral music are placed in order in the book so that there’s no chance of not being able to find the right music at the right time. I always have said that “the organist can make or break the service!” and part of that equation is being ready for the next piece without making the congregation wait for you to find the page. Now when I photocopy or scan the music, I do so at larger than 100%, because the music rack at St. Andrew’s is so high and far away for these old eyes! And of course — the two services I’m playing on Sunday have different hymns, liturgy and choral music — they are not identical — so my playbook is pretty thick!
You might call me a “one-trick pony,” but yes, I’m again playing Bach this week for my prelude and postlude (That’s the beauty of being the organ sub: you can do repeats of pieces without someone saying “That piece again?!”) This week I’m playing selections from the Clavierübung, Bach’s so-called “German Organ Mass:” the settings of “These are the ten holy commandments” and “We believe in one God” (Dies sind die heilgen zehn Gebot BWV 678 and Wir glauben all an einen Gott BWV 680).
Now I’m off to practice and it’s Friday morning! Don’t have to be at the office!