Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Not the Normal Organist

MusicLast weekend I walked into church and the normal organist hadn't shown up so I was asked to sub at the last minute. Maybe I should say "regular" rather than "normal" because I’m not sure I like the implication of not being a “normal” organist though by the end here you may agree that I am not normal.

I’d never played those particular hymns before but luckily they’re all kind of the same and I managed to thunk my way through them without too much trouble. Someone said the closing prayer, everyone said "amen" and I started into the postlude music just as is customary. So far so good? Everyone with me so far?

However, as I started to play my book was having trouble and the dumb thing kept closing on me (those cold drafts in the room probably) so I had my little black purse and I quick in between phrases stuck it up on the music ledge to hold the book open.

I was playing “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” and just as I got to the third line my purse slipped off of the ledge and fell onto the keyboard. But not just any keyboard, the one in the chapel happens to be an electronic version, not a real piano or organ, with all the fancy buttons and demos and features and as my purse fell on the way down it hit some mystery button that threw the whole piece into a Samba-tastic tune--chunky drums, cymbals and everything. You ain’t heard “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” until you’ve heard it go Solid Gold.

Of course the odd thing was that the noise of people getting up to leave was loud enough and it was all so strange that it took me a little longer to react than normal—I was playing along until it kind of filtered into my brain, "What on earth is that noise?" but about the time every head in the place whipped around to look at the keyboard to see who was responsible for such blasphemy I realized that “Hey! That crazy sound is coming from me!”

So there I am, with the funky "Chaka chaka ching bumpa chaka chaka ching" thing going along with the hymn as I played. I finally realized what had happened but I had no idea what I’d done to make all that irreverent noise so all I could think was “Shut it down! Oh shut it down quick!”

In the panic of the moment it took me a second to find the emergency shut off valve—if it had taken much longer Plan B would have dictated me whipping off my shoe and whacking away at the instrument with the heel of my patent leather. There was silence for a quick second then the place busted up. I had teenagers giving me the thumbs up sign and people were laughing--and not really in a holy way.

I didn't bother to finish the song, what little spirituality there had been left with the first clank of the cymbals, so I abandoned my post and I slinked out of the chapel very red and embarrassed as best I could.

At least I'm probably free from getting another invitation to sub at the keyboard anytime soon.

***

Susan from Gresham, Oregon has won this week's Saturday giveaway and walks away with a customized photo cosmetic case from Bagettes--lucky her!

80 comments:

Hazel said...

Just enjoy the whole experience -- the Lord commanded us to make a joyful noise He did not say "make a solemn noise" or even "make a Holy noise" He said "make a joyful noise".
Perhaps an inappropriate moment, and not the right tune but definitely joyful!

Sheila said...

Oh, that really is funny! This is one of those stories that your children will be telling at your 25th anniversary party.

I know it's horrible to think of now, but that's priceless!

Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

Jacki said...

At least you can say you went out with a bang. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I love to have a good laugh first thing in the morning! Thanks for waking me up happy! Gen

Heather said...

This story makes me live in fear that someone here in Ohio will discover Organ 101 on my BYU transcript and ask me to sub for the "normal organist."

Oh, the terror of that moment, I can hear the whole thing as if I were there. Thanks for the great laugh and the warning about page holders.

Robin said...

Too funny! Those teens must have been thrilled to pieces LOL.

Lis Garrett said...

Fantastic!!

Tammy said...

Oh dear, that's too hilarious! =D

Stine said...

Hihihi - at least you got the thumbs-up...

Barbara H. said...

I can just picture it!! This had me laughing for several minutes. Thanks for sharing!

Holding It Together said...

Thank you - I needed to be cheered up this morning!

MommyTime said...

This is hilarious. I'm not sure I should be snorting with laughter over a church mishap, but sometimes you just can't help yourself. I am sending this link to my mother, who I suspect will be riveted by her discovery of the fabulosity of blogging through this single post. Really. Thank you. :)

Mrs. Annie said...

And I thought things like that only happened to me! Welcome to the club. We'll be sending your membership card next week :)

Very, very funny stuff!

Coach J said...

That is funny! Wonder how long it will take them to ask you to sub again? :)

Rhonda said...

Our organist has a regular little visitor on the keyboard.... that being her 3 year old daughter. Our Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief ALWAYS sounds as you described. We now just go with it, because... you know.... no one else is volunteering to play the organ! I love the music, regardless.

Funny post.

Mayberry said...

Ha!! That is just like one of my favorite songs that my dad's band used to play (I even blogged about it once). It's called "When Ragtime Rosie Ragged the Rosary" and it's all about the havoc that a substitute organist wreaks. Deliberately, in her case.

angie said...

I so wish I was there. I've never heard chacka chacka boom boom in the chapel, ever, I think it would have made my day. :)

mumple said...

LOL! Consider it a "joyful noise" and come into His courts with song!

In our church, we all sit quietly (okay, everyone excluding the Howler) to listen to the postlude, and then there's a tickle of applause.

Maybe they'll ask you to sub more often--just to get the Spirit flowing.

Heather said...

That's fabulous. Really. I think most people appreciate laughter in church.

Amber M. said...

Great story, Michelle. I'll have the giggles all day thinking of "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief", Solid Gold style.

Jeana said...

I guess you showed them! This post was Solid Gold. :-)

Beck said...

I can't stop laughing here. The only really exciting thing to happen at our church last week was when the organist played the wrong hymn all the way through the first verse. Har!

Shannon said...

Michelle, I just need to tell you that I get the greatest laughs out of your embarassing stories! Thank you for being so willing to share. We all have them but I for one, try to keep that a secret. Sharing is way more fun! Hysterical!

Simply Stork said...

yup...went out with a bang or should I say a "chicca chicca bang bang" LOL

well you will not be forgotten :o)

(but will you be asked again?)

~simply~

Ginna said...

great story, it cracked me up!

dieMutti said...

I love it! This sounds like something only I would do... thanks for beating me to it :)

Janet said...

You never know, with all the laughter and thumbs up, maybe people will decide they want more of the same! I have substituted for the pianist in church on occasion, and it was like dragging oxen backward through the mud. I'd be on verse three and they were still only halfway through verse 1. I agree with Hazel - Christians are supposed to be HAPPY and JOYOUS. This is not a funeral. Don't sing the hymns like a dirge.

Jamie said...

In my old ward, there were only a couple people who actually played the piano, me being one of them. So even though I had never played the organ before, I was called to be the "normal" organist. Since there were so few of us who were musically inclined, no one ever complained, but organ-playing time was always an adventure.
Once, I wasn't really paying attention and started playing the wrong line. It took me minute to notice, not to mention recover. Afterwards, one of my husband's friends asked him if I was drunk. Nice.
Thanks for the story - gotta love those moments!

Julie Q. said...

Oh my word, what a great story. I wish our organist did that. I went to Catholic mass with my roommate in college and I was jealous that they had a guy with a guitar singing up front. Imagine what they could have done with the whole rumba disco backup beat.

Gee said...

I wanna be there to hear that number...oh when the Saints Go Marching In!!

Boom-chacka-chacka

Oh....wish I coulda been there!

J Fife said...

"A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" gone Solid Gold bubbles up images of a choir in iridescent hot pants and sequin encrusted head bands. Not so holy, but oh so fun.

John & Laura said...

ha ha ha! That's what you get for practicing the piano as a child... Ü

Wish I could have been there for the show.

Blessed said...

Oh I feel your embarrassment - been there done that (not exactly, but close!) As soon as I was done blushing though it really was funny!

Cocoa said...

That's one that will be remembered for a very long time! When I was little they called a new convert to play the organ in our ward. She used to play for saloons and the second amen was said she'd be pounding out the hymns with a very jazzy beat, improvising the left hand the way she had done in the saloons. I've never forgotten it.

Lei said...

oh i absolutely love it michelle. that would have been a sight (we need a little more spunk i think)!

this brings back several of my very own musical mishaps...it's inevitable!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Now there's a scene that should be in a movie.

Sandy said...

I don't know....

You may have shook it up enough that you'll be getting requests to play every week.

I know I'd ask for an organist like that any day!

Beth said...

You ain’t heard “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” until you’ve heard it go Solid Gold.

tee hee hee

Oh, if only I could have heard that rendition this past Sunday!

Melissa Lea said...

Thank your for making me laugh today! That's a great story!!!!!

Stacy said...

That's too funny!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

That story almost made me, an admitted Heathen, want to go to church! Maybe you've found a new type of missionary work!

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

make a joyful noise indeed... i have had my share of similar experiences...

tjhirst said...

Very funny . . . at least you can play something. Probably better this way then no music at all. I'll share it with my daughter who's also the back-up organist and has much fear. This should soothe her worries or at least give her more nightmares.

Mrs Nespy said...

wow...you really had me laughing there. I can sympathize, as I've found myself accidentally propping on a note or two before hearing myself and realizing that everyone else must be much more aware of it than me! Too funny. I know you probably felt horrified at the time, but if it helps, you made us all smile! Thanks for sharing.

Childlife said...

Ah, a little leaven in the lump can be a good thing. You may well have been a much needed smile for someone that day :)

e-Mom said...

This was a sidesplitter! Just stopped by to say thanks. :~D

Blessings,

e-Mom @ Chrysalis

Prisca said...

I would SO have paid to hear this! My mom is an organist so I could absolutely imagine it happening to her. ;)

eh, tjhirst's daughter said...

This is hilarious...I play the organ for prelude music as our organist doesn't arrive until about 10 to...On Easter I found out that she wouldn't show up until at least after the first hymn...Which meant I would have to play it. I kept glancing at the clock, then at the door waiting for her to arrive. She finally did thank goodness, it was Easter...so there was tons of people...Nice to know I'm not the only one having organ troubles.

allysha said...

That is so funny! And really, your timing is impeccable! I mean, you got through the serious part and then gave everyone a good laugh at the very end!

You may be called back sooner than you think...!

GreenishLady said...

God loves laughter! And He probably enjoys a bit of boom-chaka-laka too! I laughed out loud at this. Great fun! Oh... sorry to be laughing at your embarrassment! Thanks for sharing the moment!

GreenishLady said...

God loves laughter! And He probably enjoys a bit of boom-chaka-laka too! I laughed out loud at this. Great fun! Oh... sorry to be laughing at your embarrassment! Thanks for sharing the moment!

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Daisy said...

OMG -- LOL!! I am the daughter of a (regular, normal) church organist. This is hilarious.

Jen at Semantically driven said...

This made me laugh. I reckon hymns need jazzing up anyway.

Damselfly said...

Oh, this is the best laugh I've had all day. I love it!

And bless you for making church service soooo much more interesting!

Richelle said...

That's so great, hilarious!

laughingatchaos said...

LOL! That's rich! Love it. :) As a church musician, all sorts of things can (and usually do) go wrong at the funkiest times. : )

thediaperdiaries said...

oh thank you for this. I only wish your blog came with sound. I would have LOVED to hear that.

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

That. is the best laugh I've had in a long time. How long did it take for you to think, "I so need to blog about this!"? LOL :)

KJ said...

My aunt played the organ in her ward in Spokane. One Sunday, as she left the stand for the sacrament and the speakers, her slip fell right off, down around her ankles as she took the first step down. She stepped out of it, picked it up, and took her pew with her family, all of whom were silently roaring with laughter.

Natalie C. said...

Oh this was an awesome post. Thank you so much for making me laugh!

Terri said...

After reading your story, I don't feel so bad about my own organ mishaps. :) I don't play the organ any more, but I did used to be the "normal" organist at our church.

christie said...

This is so funny, thank you for the giggle. I think God has the best sense of humor, even if you were a bit red. Your blog is a charm!

Mercy's Maid said...

That's too funny!

I believe God has a sense of humor...in fact, it might have been He who gave your purse a little push!

Melissa Markham said...

LOL! Well, at least you made the day memorable! And I agree with your other commenters. I believe God loves a good laugh:)

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I just emailed this to my mom. She was the organinst forever (I want to say over ten straight years) and she loves stories like these. She has plenty of them herself. And, hey, anything that can get a thumbs up from the teens at church is a good thing, right? =)

Chandra said...

Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor? That's priceless! Thanks for the great laugh!

Elizabeth said...

You had me laughing out loud! Thanks for sharing. We're supposed to laugh at least 25% of our day, and you got me off to a great start! Thanks again!

diXymiss said...

Sounds like you actually did your church family a favor... After all, "A merry heart doeth good like medicine!" ;-)

Wendi said...

I just hopped over from your sisters blog. Boy am I glad I did. You are too funny! I have never heard "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" gone solid gold before. I would love to have been a fly on the wall that morning. Great story.

alotalot said...

Priceless! It brings back memories of the "normal" organist in my old ward who passed away a few years ago. She only had one speed and she played every song at that speed. Nothing EVER went Solid Gold for her.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I needed a good laugh :) !!

Michelle A. said...

WOw, you so made me laugh Michelle! I refuse to step foot near an organ - although that's better said than done - I have been asked several times to play, but try to divert their attention to the wonderful piano sitting on the opposite side and they usually accept. So I am the Sunday pianist, not organist - hmm, I wonder how long I can pull this off?! Again, great post, so so funny!

Homesick Texan said...

Consider this: at least it happened at the end and not the beginning. And I bet they were laughing with you, I know I'm laughing! What a wonderful story! And thanks, Michelle, for naming my site the site of the week--I'm honored!

Sonja said...

I can fully appreciate this because I am also an ab normal organist. I'm still learning what all the buttons do and every once in a while I get brave and push a new one in between verses and end up with something a little shocking.

Oh my, you'll never sing "A Poor Wayfaring..." the same again. :)

Michemily said...

This makes me think of the time that a kid who was sitting on the stand for a special presentation stretched out his legs and didn't realize he was pressing one of the organ pedals. Everyone thought it was me. Or the time that I hit a pedal when the stake president had gone over twenty minutes and he said he'd better finish. Or the time I forgot to do the intro for a hymn and had to play the whole two pages. Or the time I transposed a hymn to see if anyone noticed. Or all the times during postlude that I transposed the key mid-song just to be funny.

Alice Wills Gold said...

I love this story...totally relate to being asked to sub last minute like that...I don't even attempt the organ, but am happy that we don't have that kind with all the bells and whistles....then I really could be in trouble.

Fuji Mama said...

I had a similar experience recently. I'm the regular organist for our congregation. We were in the middle of the sacrament (so it was dead silent) and I was sitting at the organ with my feet propped up near the volume pedals. I'd had a rought night the night before, up with an unhappy baby. I must have started to dose off, because one of my feet slipped at landed right on several of the pedals at once. Needless to say half of the congregation jumped about 2 feet out of their seats. Sigh.

Heidi Hess Saxton said...

What a hoot ... Because misery loves company, I have a similar story involving a piano, a mike, and my 2-year-old foster son. Here: http://mommymonsters.blogspot.com/2008/04/as-if-kids-werent-embarrassing-enough.html

Islandsparrow said...

Hilarious!! I've done the same thing in church myself only on an electric piano. It's a head-turner!