Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A coincidence, I think not

Sunday evening I decided to listen to an episode of The Joy Of Music while doing some cleaning. I almost could not believe my ears! Diane Bish played her arrangement of "All Creatures of Our God and King." I instantly felt amazed and overcome as I am currently learning this hymn. This is not the first time where I have unexpectedly heard a piece performed that I am currently learning. I am awestruck each time it happens. I feel like it is a sign from God to continue pursuing the organ. At my last lesson Michael reminded me to listen to recordings of the pieces that I am learning. Perhaps, God brought this recording to me!

Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (NIV). 

You may be thinking, oh that was just a coincidence. How many things have to align for it to not be a coincidence?  
  • Diane Bish has recorded over 500 episodes of The Joy of Music
    • This particular episode was saved on my DVR. 
    • The DVR is set to record The Joy of Music every time that it is on (it airs on the The Church Channel on Dish Network). 
    • The DVR will only keep the 20 most recent recordings. 
    • I randomly picked this episode of the 20 saved on the DVR.
  • My motive for listening to the show was not purely to hear organ music. Just recently my husband asked me if I still watched them. I decided to put on an episode in the background while cleaning as I had been neglecting the show.  My initial goal was to be able to tell my husband that I listened to an episode. 
  • I had attempted to invite myself over to my niece's for the evening but she had other plans. If she has been around, I would not have been home cleaning.
  • I was only cleaning because my washer had broke on Saturday and my brother-in-law was coming the next day to fix it.
I could list more but I am not trying to convince you, although perhaps I am attempting to be a bit persuasive

Regardless of what you believe - hand of God or just coincidence - it felt awesome to me! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A corrected mistake is evidence of progress!

As described in my last post, my November lesson was a bit tough. However, I did show some improvement. While playing "Like a River Glorious", I played a wrong note in the pedal line. I immediately corrected and Michael noticed. This was a big deal. In the past, when playing a wrong note (especially at a lesson), I would freeze, or stop playing, or continue playing with each subsequent note being wrong. Organists will make mistakes. It is likely no one will remember a wrong note (unless it is the first or the last!). This mistake and the correction the followed was a sign of progress!

We all make mistakes. How we handle them can often be more important than the actual mistake. When I play a wrong note [make a mistake] the best option is to quickly correct it and move on. Dwelling on it (freezing until corrected), stopping (giving up completely), and continuing but not fixing it (one mistake leads to another) emphasize the mistake instead of the solution.

What are the best ways you have find to handle mistakes?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why to practice as recommended - November 2012 Lesson

Lessons go better when the advice of the teacher is followed!

Last Saturday, I had an organ lesson with Michael. I was very optimistic going into the lesson. I was confident that Michael would be impressed with my improvement since my last lesson. But that is not how most of my lesson turned out. You see, I had become over confident during my practice time. And I made excuses. I was often tired when practicing so I didn't turn on the metronome. I wanted to avoid it's persistent and never ending clicks. I didn't want to take the time to record myself and play it back. It's much easier to deny my errors when I didn't hear them. I didn't sing along with the hymns to given the words the attention they deserve. 

I felt a little crushed after the lesson. I wanted to be better but I wasn't. It was my fault. I hadn't put in the proper effort. I didn't follow the advice that I'm paying for. I sulked a bit, but that wasn't going to help me improve. I made a  list to remind myself of some of Michael's suggestions (paraphrased) has given me multiple times. These should lead to me showing improvement at my lessons:
  • Pay attention to details when practicing - READ THE WORDS in hymns
  • Listen to recordings of other organists playing the pieces I am learning. 
  • Make friends with the metronome. Don't just turn it on, listen to it while playing!
  • Record myself and playback the recordings 
This lesson was tough as it's hard to hear "its not good enough". But this may turn out to be a very pivotal lesson as I confronted my issues. Now I will be more diligent when practicing and more likely to think about all the instructions and guidance Michael has provided. I will be sharing more about this lesson soon.

You are probably not taking organ lessons (if you are let me know!). But all of us can learn from this situation. if you are any type of student working with a teacher, take your teacher's advice! (assuming it is sound advice, of course). 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Michael Gartz Organ Recital 10-28-2012

Last Sunday afternoon Michael Gartz, my teacher, played a delightful recital at Trinity Episcopal Church. I attended along with my husband and many other listeners eager to hear the organ. The pipe organ is located in the balcony which is in the back of the church. Instead of typical pews found in many churches this church uses chairs. One advantage of this is that the chairs can be arranged into many configurations.  For this concert, the chairs were positioned so that they faced the back of the church and we could see Michael at the console.

Michael performed 4 pieces in the first half of the program including Chorale Prelude - "Bangor"  by Margaret A. Weber. Margaret was born in 1917 and was in the audience! At the end of the intermission Michael addressed the audience from the balcony (I had a picture of this but it was too fuzzy to share). The second half was filled with 3 pieces, but the last was a Suite which contained 5 movements. After a standing ovation, Michael played an encore piece.  All pieces were very well played. Michael takes great care in the registration (the stops used which determine how the organ will sound when played). And as always, it was a joy to hear Michael at the console! He continues to inspire me.

Pictured below is the view of Michael at the console.  The detail and coloring of the windows cannot be seen due to the sun shinning brightly through them. And I find the pipes to be quite impressive! 
Michael Gartz at the organ console at Trinity Episcopal Church, Toledo, OH.