AVA181: "Why do you need the music in front of you, you did quite well on that last verse without it"
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start Episode 181 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. And today’s question was sent by Lance. He writes:
Hi there Vidas.
Love your daily posts.
Today's one (AVA176) has a double significance to me, as our current Vicar likes the hymns SLOW. We are a combined parish, and he visits us once a month. At other times we have one of his "associate" priests minister to us, and they gladly follow the organist.
The other occasion was with our previous Vicar (pre amalgamation), and I miscounted the verses on the last hymn - finished one verse short, closed the hymn book, ready for the recessional voluntary, when Fr David's stentorian voice called out "one more verse to go Lance!" Fortunately, the hymn was one that I had learnt early in my organ-playing career (at secondary school), so I just chimed in again, as I had played it so many times over the years, much to the Vicar's amusement, as he said to me after the Service, "why do you need the music in front of you, you did quite well on that last verse without it." Ahhhhh, praise from a man of the cloth.
Cheers and best wishes.
Remember, Ausra, I had this situation too, once, but very early in my career--I think I was in the first or the second year studying at the Academy of Music in Vilnius. And I was working as an organist just across the street, in the Church of St. Jacobs and Philips. And there was a very very old priest, like 90 years old maybe, who normally didn’t use a microphone at all, although the church was quite big, and the room was reverberant. And all the other priests and monks from that monastery--it was a Dominican monastery, I think--used microphones. So this old priest, one time, I remember, shouted to me, “Organist! Can you play something for Holy Mary?”
A: Hahaha, that’s so funny! I had already forgotten about this, but now, yes, I recall the story.
A: He was a funny old man!
V: Did you have similar experiences?
A: Yes, I had, actually, when I subbed for you at Eastern Michigan. You know, when I worked at the Christian Science Church, and Ypsilanti Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. And I remember that the pastor was holding a Lent service, during Lent time--like an early morning service for elderly people who cannot drive in the dark.
A: I remember I subbed for you during those early services, because you had some classes at school at the time. So, I remember that the organ was located at the end of the church; and you know, there was a service going on. And during that time, actually, the postman came, and he brought a package of something, but somebody had to stand up for it. And because I wasn’t playing at that time, he saw me, and he came up to me; and I was signing “Aušra Motuzaitė-Pinkevičienė,” and then when that man saw my signature, he could not make it! He asked me to spell it for him out loud, because he was so curious about the strange name--long, double last names...and so I was doing that for him. And during that time, the service was going; and apparently, I missed the hymn! And you know, the postman left, and then I was thinking, “Why such silence in the church?” And the pastor keeps looking at me, angry, and then he said, “And NOW we sing Hymn --!” And then I just played that hymn. But it was funny.
V: Mhm. So actually, it feels worse than it is, right? Because people in the church, they sense that the organist is preoccupied, right, and they don’t make a big deal out of it. But when you are in the middle of it, it’s quite embarrassing, I would say.
A: I know, I would say especially for your pastor, because he sort of had...you know...different opinions about men and women.
V: What do you mean?
A: Well, you know...the Missouri Synod is so conservative.
A: And he carries on all those conservative beliefs about how women are different from men, and what they can do and what they cannot do.
V: And what can women do in church?
A: Well, according to him, they can clean the floor! Hahaha.
V: Oh. That’s nice…
A: They can play the organ. Actually, it was one of his sermons, also, when I subbed for you.
A: And he said this looking at me--we can play the organ, but we cannot, you know, say the sermon, or lead the service, or read the Holy Scripture. So it was quite embarrassing. I know each church has those, but you don’t have to make them so...so obvious…
V: On the nose!
A: On the nose--especially when a woman at that time was sitting on the organ bench, and leading your service!
V: Maybe he was just trying to elevate you, and giving you privilege, to be emphasized from the congregation. No?
A: I don’t know, but before, he told us that women can clean the floor! So…
V: And because you weren’t cleaning the floor, you were sort of a privileged member of the community…?
A: I don’t know. For me, it seemed like cleaning the floor equals playing the organ!
V: Ahh. I see.
A: That’s how it felt, is what I’m saying.
V: I see. But he was a nice man otherwise, right?
A: Heeheehee, yes.
V: He had funny manners, but otherwise, quite friendly.
A: That’s true.
V: Yeah, I think everyone who plays in church long enough can really find such experience, right? One way or another, in many churches, right? Because every pastor or priest has character traits that no one else has, right? And sometimes they become more or less apparent, and in funny situations.
A: I know, yes; you could write a book including all those stories. It would be fun.
V: You know, it’s hard sometimes to not take those remarks personally. But I’m sure he didn’t mean, personally, to offend you. I think he just expressed his opinion about women--it wasn’t about you. It was about him, actually. Do you think…?
A: Well, who knows what he really believed, himself. I just felt sorry for his wife at that moment.
V: Was his wife sorry? Did she seem sorry, or sad at that moment--do you know?
A: I don’t know, but it seems for me that she just worshiped him.
A: She was sort of that kind of woman where, you know...very kind and gentle...
A: Always supporting him.
V: Whatever he says!
V: Mhm. Pastors’ wives...okay. But, so guys, if you have similar experiences in your life--funny situations, or embarrassing situations--or maybe frustrating situations, when the priest or a pastor says something to you, right, and you don’t know how to make it out--how to figure out what he means, actually--maybe write to us, and we can discuss. That would be interesting, too.
A: Or we can share, and laugh together!
V: Right. At least we can laugh, right?
V: If you can laugh at the situation, then everything is sort of...not so serious. Right? What would we do without humor?
A: Yes, it would be bad.
V: People would go crazy, actually. Because life is full of uncertainties and challenging situations, and things I won’t even mention! Right? Okay. Hope you enjoyed this conversation, and don’t forget to practice, right? Because when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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