I’ve been scheduled to play for church today for about a month. When I say yes it’s never a big deal. It only becomes a big deal the week before. Suddenly I feel as if I have no stamina, and my nerves are bad.

Is this silly or what? It’s church. You won’t find professional musicians at the church. Everyone is kind and many wouldn’t hear a wrong note if I played one. Maybe it’s that I’m more aware of God’s presence. Or of being in a church building. I don’t know. But I sure don’t enjoy the stress.

But I played today, and it went just fine. And now I think, “That was fun. I’d like to do it again.”

I’ll probably get another call asking me to play in a month or so. Then I’ll go through this whole thing again of saying yes, feeling good about it, stressing out, getting nervous, playing, and then deciding it was a good experience.

That’s me in a nutshell.

Now it’s off to opera. 3:00 Sunday operas are the most difficult for me; Sunday afternoon is, after all, nap time.

This coming week I’m back to UCSC and Symphony Silicon Valley is having a little get-together prior to our start of the season. The Santa Clara University music department has a get-together as well, but I can’t attend; I have private students at the event time. I feel as if I’m entirely back to work as of this week. This is all good news. Work is good.


  1. What sorts of pieces do you play for your church? Do you perform things you’re currently working on, perhaps church-specific pieces (I’m thinking hymn arrangements), or do you play “standard” repertoire (Handel, Telemann, Saint-Saens, Schumann, etc.)?

    Most of my church playing has been of the “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and “Sheep May Safely Graze” variety, but I did play the Paladihle once for the offertory (with the high G at the end like Mr. Mack played). I never asked what effect that had on the collection.

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    This time I played a couple of movements from Telemann’s D minor Fantasy. I like playing those because they are unaccompanied; finding a pianist and then finding time to rehearse is often a challenge! Sometimes I put together some hymns that work well unaccompanied as well. (Amazing Grace, Lel All Mortal Flesh, Of the Father’s Love Begotten … those work well.) Sometimes I write something of my own and while I’ve not done so at church, when I play elsewhere I sometimes improvise on the spot.

    I never do anything too showy for church. For me it’s just difficult to worship with something like that. But that’s just me! 🙂

  3. I can understand that. Worship has several aspects, and there is so much great music out there that one should be able to find a piece to fit, whether it be celebratory, contemplative, or even hortatory. I’m fortunate to have a great accompanist, and we can usually schedule our rehearsals before choir practice.


    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Patricia Mitchell

    I puzzle over some music, and I wonder if it’s merely my problem. Once I heard a pianist play something that sounded … well … sort of like a stripper melody or something. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. And I’m willing to admit it could easily be my problem only. Other music sounds so flippant and while I do agree that “celebratory” is okay, I guess somethings just sound too goofy to me.

    I’ve often pondered this whole thing. What makes somethign worshipful? When have we crossed a line?

    The other thing, for me, is that I prefer to make what I do as little like a performance as possible. Maybe because music that is performance is work for me, and I want music at church to be something “other” … dunno!

    You ARE fortunate to have a great pianist! I’d be envious but I try not to do envy! 🙂