Thursday, March 3, 2016

Lessons From the Organ - Slow Down!

Before I started playing the organ at the temple, I met with the organ coordinator to make sure I could play -  I'm passable.  She took me to the temple when no one was there so I could practice a bit and get used to the organ there.  As I played, she beat the tempo with her hand.  Down, down....down...........doooown.  I was playing too fast.  I slowed down some, and then more.  But her hand wasn't down yet.  Down..................down......................................down.....................................down

Oh, that was hard!  I've always had a thing about music with a slow tempo.  I chafe at singing hymns at church that should be bright and perky but instead drag into a boring cesspool of dead tones.  Yes, I feel that strongly about it.  I don't know why church organists often feel that the correct tempo - for everything - is "moderate funeral dirge."  I work hard to learn the weekly hymns thoroughly enough that I can play them up to speed, or maybe even a little bit faster.  "Onward Christian Soldiers" should make you feel like marching, not lull you into taking a nap!  

I've been guilty of being harsh and judgmental.  I remember singing way-too-slow hymns at church and looking at my watch to figure out just how slow they were going.  Jay, always the kind one, would smile and shake his head at me and tuck my arm in his or hold my hand - covering my watch.

And now, I'm the one playing oh-so-slowly.  It's rough.  I just like to tear through a hymn and get to the end.  I like to have people sit up and take notice and sing out.  I like to play cheerfully or strongly.

Isn't this picture gorgeous?  It was taken by the uncle of Alec's girlfriend and you really ought to look at his other temple shots.  They are breathtaking and show just how I feel when I go to the temple.

In the temple, the whole mood is different.  Everything is hushed and peace reigns.  A loud, sprightly hymn would be out of place.  I love the serenity that fills my heart and smooths out all my rough spots, and I wouldn't want to spoil that tranquility for anyone else.  My job there is to add to the beautiful spirit, not draw attention to myself or encourage action.  I'm so grateful I get to go to the temple.  I love it.  I love the feeling there, and I love playing the organ.

But it is so hard to play slowly!  As I struggled to keep the tempo sedate, I wondered why it was so hard for me to slow down.  As I thought and thought and pondered and wondered, I finally learned what I needed to know today.

I need to slow down.

Yes, I CAN go fast.  Yes, it is fun to sing out.  Yes, it is invigorating to play briskly.  But right now, I need peace.  My life has enough and I'm not always coping very well.  So slow down, girl.  Breathe a little between verses.  Smell the fresh nearly-spring breeze.  Hold on to those notes.  Hug your children longer.  Notice the beauty.  Feel the sunshine on your hair.  Pause.  Slow.  Walk.  Rest.  Enjoy.

And live.

For more information about LDS temple - why we build them and what we do in them, as well as some lovely pictures inside - read this article.

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