It’s concert week—the last week of organ lessons I give before my young students perform on Saturday, November 18 at 2:00 at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. For many of them, it’s the first time they have ever performed on organ in front of an audience. The youngest of these students is 9 years old, and the oldest is a couple of years out of college.
Most of the students have only taken organ lessons for two years or less. So these students are not only young in years but young in experience. Even my post-graduate student has only been playing the organ for a couple of years.
I realized that maybe, just maybe, some of the things I tell my students are things that no other organ teachers talk about. Some of these “Kathy-isms” have to do with living in Hawaii. Other statements are just what I consider “common sense!” For example:
You can’t play the organ in shorts. Here in Hawaii, where we have summer weather virtually the whole year round, it’s tempting to wear as little as possible, and shorts are an essential part of people’s wardrobes here. However, if you wear shorts, it’s nigh impossible to slide your legs on the bench because your skin exudes moisture, and makes you stick to the bench. You have to wear a long enough skirt or slacks which will allow you to slide. It’s as bad as having wet shoes (see next instruction).
Don’t wear your organ shoes away from the organ. They might pick up dirt from outside which can be tracked onto the organ pedals, making them dirty. Or, they might become wet from our frequent rain showers (how else can you explain how green Hawaii is?) Once your organ shoes get wet, it’s almost impossible to play the pedals, because then they’ll stick — they won’t be able to slide over the keys, and you won’t be able to play legato. I unfortunately learned this the hard way (ouch!)
As you approach the organ bench, make sure it’s at the right height. And for heavens’ sake, when you bend down to adjust the bench, make sure that your okole (otherwise known as “tush,” “rear end,” “buttock”) is facing the wall, not the audience! Please! we don’t need a show!
Before you start playing, make sure you are on the correct memory level and have pulled out the correct stops. Sit in the same place at the keyboard every time and ensure your hands and feet are on the correct starting notes. Take a big breath before playing, and don’t be in a rush. Take your time.
When your piece is finished, hit the general cancel button. This takes off all stops so you won’t have any unwanted “oopsies” when you get off the organ bench, or take your music away from the music rack. I’ll never forget the time(s) when my hymnal fell onto the keyboard and I had forgotten to cancel the stops, creating a massive and unpleasant tone cluster! Yes, it happened more than one time, and once it happened during the prayers! Yikes!
Well, since this weekend is a concert and not a service, there won’t be any prayers, except for those by the students to pray that their turn is over. At least, that’s what I pray for when I play in a concert of my peers!
The public is most welcome.