Getting into the Swing

I’ve been at this job for two months now so I think I’m getting into the swing of things (the World Series is on so baseball metaphors are fair game. Or fair ball.) I have a good idea how the typical service will flow and what most people expect musically in the service.

There’s a couple of real challenges. As I’ve said previously, my reading is pretty average, especially with more complex arrangements. I can improvise fairly effectively if I’m familiar with the melody and chord structure but when I’m reading the left hand am unable to do much more than keep up. Bach I am not. With four hymns, at least one anthem and and introit and blessing, the volume of new music each week can be a little daunting.

Then there’s the organ.

The organ is still a massive challenge for me. I have a better idea of what the presets on the organ will sound like and typically stick to them. I’ll try to use different sounds during a hymn and make it as interesting as I can. But the bass pedals are still frightening. I can’t really use them without constantly peeking to make sure I’m going to hit the right one and can only use them in socks. I’ll have to eventually acquire some actual organ shoes but for now I’ll just be sockman (Could have been a decent Halloween costume). The only issue is that when I move to the piano some of the congregation can see my feet. Loafers?

This week’s service is another communion which has significantly more music. Fortunately I am familiar with many of the hymns this week so it has required a bit less rehearsal and I’m planning on using pedals this morning. It could be a busy day; with daylight savings time ending I expect there will be more in attendance so it would be nice to have a good week and maybe convince a few more people to come out more regularly.

However, I recently watched a documentary on the life and music of J.S. Bach. During his career, he had a charge where he was the music director of a church and was expected to compose that volume of music each week. Not just play and perform it, but actually write new music each week. This, in an era where all the music was hand transcribed and copied. So really, I’ve got it pretty easy.


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