Vidas: Let’s start Episode 128 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. Listen to the audio version here. And this question was sent by Helene. She is an ordained minister, but also plays the organ; and one of her challenges is that she doesn’t let churches know of her ability--basically, as I understand, she keeps her organ playing talents a secret. Right, Ausra?
Ausra: Yes, that’s what I understood from her question.
Vidas: So, why do people keep their talents a secret?
Ausra: Well, I think there might be different reasons. In this case, maybe she sort of feels uncertain how her colleagues or the church would respond or react to it--that she’s actually playing organ. For me, it sounds like maybe she feels a little bit ashamed of playing the organ, and maybe she thinks that preaching or leading services is more important than playing organ. Which I don’t think is the right way, at least from my point of view.
Vidas: You’re right. Remember we have some friends, and one of them is Paulius. He is a lawyer--his first profession is lawyer--but he started playing organ some years ago, right, as a hobby. And now of course, he is, we could say, a professional organist, because he receives a salary within the church; but in the beginning, he was just practicing for his own pleasure, right? And remember that time when he kind of felt a little bit hesitant to say to anybody from his work that he plays--he was a little bit shy, right, at first?
Vidas: So you’re right. What keeps people from basically letting other people know that they have other talents and hobbies, is probably insecurity and how other people would react, right?
Ausra: But I think it’s important to let other people know about your talent.
Ausra: And to share your talents with other people. Because I think service music is equally important.
Vidas: Especially if Helene is a minister. Imagine this situation: she could preach, say, a sermon, right?
Vidas: And maybe she could play a prelude, or postlude at the end. Maybe she could not play every hymn in the service, because it’s just too much to do; but she could contribute. Would you think that her congregation would be in awe of her contribution?
Ausra: Yes. I think so. I think people would appreciate it.
Vidas: Right. So guys, I think among our listeners there are other people who have organ playing skills or hobbies, but their main profession is something else, right--they do something else for a living. And they keep it a secret; they practice in a basement or somewhere like an attic, where nobody is around, and never, ever share their art, let’s say on social media--never post a picture of their organ playing on Facebook or post a video on YouTube, right?
Ausra: Yes, that’s right.
Vidas: There are some people like that.
Ausra: Yes. And you know, I understand why people don’t want to share their talents on social media. It might disagree with their beliefs. But I think playing organ in church, during a service, should not be kept a secret.
Ausra: Especially if you are a minister, an ordained minister.
Vidas: You are already sharing.
Ausra: Yes, you’re already sharing; and I think playing organ would just support what you are doing.
Vidas: And if people got over that initial fear of sharing their talents, and fear of being, you know, ridiculed in front of other people, sometimes--if they got over this situation and they would even play in front of other people--I think their general organ playing skill would improve, don’t you think?
Ausra: Yes. And you know, playing organ--I think that’s a rare gift for a minister. Not too many ministers can play organ.
Vidas: Remember in the old days, Lutheran seminaries had organ playing classes; and I think Concordia colleges in the US had many practice organs--
Vidas: Like 40 practice organs. It was, I think, around the 1940s or something.
Ausra: Yes, because I think it’s important for clergy to understand music in general--to understand the meaning and value of music, and how it helps to sort of lift up the congregational spirit in church. So I think this is even better, that a minister can play herself.
Vidas: There are some side benefits to that, because she can sing well, probably.
Vidas: She can lead hymn singing very well. And this is also very important for a church, because sometimes organists play the hymns--they sing--but if they see a minister not participating in that, there’s a wall, right? Between what the clergy do and what the musicians do.
Ausra: I know. And it’s like that in some Catholic churches; because if the mass is sung, and you have to make a response to a priest’s singing, so sometimes it’s so funny if the priest doesn’t have any pitch at all! And during like one phrase, he can modulate a few times! And the organist never knows how to pick up the response to it.
Vidas: Of course, the priest doesn’t know they’re modulating…
Ausra: I know, yes. And that’s because they don’t have good musical education, I think, in seminaries.
Vidas: So if Helene and others DO have musical background, and can sing well and even play the instrument, it would be selfish--
Ausra: Yes, sure.
Vidas: To keep it a secret.
Ausra: And you know, if it’s hard to combine things in one service, for example, it might be too stressful to do preaching and playing in the same service; so maybe she could keep leading the worship as the minister on one Sunday, and maybe play the organ on the next one.
Vidas: Mhm. Or just play occasional service music--
Ausra: Sure, sure.
Vidas: Not everything, but just...like a dessert!
Ausra: Yes. And especially like during or before big festivities, like Christmas or Easter, during Lent and Advent, many churches have additional services; so maybe she could play the organ on those services.
Vidas: Yeah, on Saturday nights, Vespers--
Vidas: Mhm. Excellent. We hope this was useful to you, and we hope to inspire you to share your gifts with your community and congregation. People need this, right? And maybe they will be inspired to take up your example and share their gifts, too.
Ausra: Yes, yes.
Vidas: Right? You never know what impact you have on people around you. And if you play in church, and you are a minister, please write to us about your experience. It would be interesting to know how people react, and how you react to this situation. Thank you, guys! This was Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: Please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
Ausra: 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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