SALSA—Society of Awesome Latter-day Saint Accompanists
I am excited to introduce Lori Weiss, a piano teacher from Orem (Utah) and share with you some of her more memorable experiences as ward organist. (Be warned—restless children and barfing involved!)
Take a moment to get acquainted with Lori, another awesome organist, then go to Questionnaire and tell us your story!
. . .
What was the first musical calling you received? How was that experience? While still in Jr. High, I was asked to be the substitute pianist for Jr. Sunday School. The first week, I got out the song list, ready to practice them all, and realized I could just play them! It was so rewarding to feel capable of helping in the church. I wished they would always ask me to play, but for some reason, my mom wanted me to go to my own class. (Figure that out??)
How long have you been playing the organ? Why did you start? I first played organ when we moved to Toronto, back in 1979. We had just 1 car and lived a long ways from the church. My husband had bishopric meeting at 7 am on Sunday, so I had to wait while he was in those meetings. I used the time to go into the chapel and work on the organ. Once in awhile a mouse would run by during those early morning sessions.
The other ward’s organist assured me I could skip the pedals until I felt like trying them, and that’s what I did. Now I’m comfortable playing hymns, but struggle a bit with actual organ music where my feet have to do something different than what my left hand is doing. Our ward choir leaders are fearless, and always want to do wonderful music, so the organ accompaniments stretch me for sure.
Do you play any other instruments? If so, which instrument do you prefer? I play the flute and piano. I love doing both. Sometimes I wish I had played a more unique instrument, like oboe or cello or harp. Our ward has lots of flutists in it, and no other instruments.
What is your favorite hymn? For SURE: On This Day Of Joy and Gladness. I like to play it a bit fast! I also like Press Forward, Saints, because it’s really fun to play. Hmmm….I think I like any hymn that includes Allelujah parts.
What is your favorite prelude or postlude piece? For postlude I do peppy ones like Called To Serve, or Welcome, Welcome, Sabbath Morning. For prelude, I try for reverent calm hymns. I love The Morning Breaks.
What sort of things do you enjoy doing in your spare time? In my spare time lately, I have been going over to the church every morning and practicing the organ. (I finally have time to do that). I also enjoy knitting, and try to keep the weeds out of my flowerbeds. I teach a few piano students, and tend some of my grandchildren on occasion.
What is one of the challenges you face as an LDS organist? One challenge is that there are just two organists in our ward. I am on duty a lot. Right now, part of my calling is to invite pianists in the ward to come and learn the organ. I have found 4 who want to learn, but we haven’t really started doing it yet. I’m a little worried about teaching others, since everything I do I sort of just invented on my own.
What is one of the blessings you have received through accepting the call to serve as an organist? I feel needed. Music speaks to us on a deeper level, and I am part of that.
Is there anything else you would like to share about you or your experience as an organist? Yes! Years ago, when my children were small, I was ward organist, and my husband was bishop. So…our poor children had to sit with someone else every week. They would often escape. I learned to keep an eye out for this, and as my 2 year old daughter would make her way up to the organ to tell me something, I would quickly turn off the pedal stops (while still playing the hymn of course) because I knew she would stand on the low pedals to try and talk to me. One day, she came up to tell me she felt sick, and she barfed right by the organ (off course, during the hymn as usual). I KNOW I would have been released, if anybody else could have played.
That same organ in that ward would overheat if I forgot to turn it off between hymns. When it was hot, it would make a big ROAR on the first note. So, I would have to guess when the speaker was about finished, and slip up there to turn the organ back on so it would be re-warmed-up and functional by the time we needed to sing. Such fun memories.