Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Mommy Tribute: O is for Organist

I am the only person outside of my family that I know who is the daughter of an organist. I even grew up with an organ in my house. My mother learned how to play when she was a young girl. Her first job playing the organ began when she was 16 years old. She continued playing in various churches for 50 years. When she was let go from her last job, it was very difficult for her, because it was her life.

Mom had perfect pitch. She could hear if you hit a wrong note and would come running to correct you. She could also tell if an instrument was out of tune and it made her cringe. I have inherited that from her on some level. I can identify a note being off-key and it hurts my ears. I just cannot play as well as she did. I never bothered with much practicing.

Mom would practice songs for church and weddings by playing on the organ we had in our living room. Sometimes she would then move over to the piano for a different sound. Every once in a while, she would have a friend come over and they would play organ and piano duets. Every Christmas season, Mom would gather us around the organ and play Christmas carols.

We were allowed to play the piano as much as we liked. We were more restricted from the organ. When I was a kid, that annoyed me. Looking back, though, I guess I can understand why.

Mom always loved to tell stories about my sister and I and the organ. Apparently when I was really little, she had to bring me with her to a funeral. I kept changing the stops and messed up the songs. (Ooh! Button! I wanna push the button!) My sister was once sitting next to her on the organ bench during a church service. Suddenly there was this humming sound, and no one knew what it was. My sister had fallen face-first onto the keyboard.

My mother's style of playing the organ was so much her own that to this day, I have a hard time listening to another church organist during a service. Most of them make lots of mistakes and I cringe. Mom was enough of a perfectionist where that almost never happened. She was an excellent musician.

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