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.

4 Comments

  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! :-)