Practice Makes Perfect Comfortable

While playing in sacrament meeting last Sunday I struggled a bit with the opening hymn. I’m not exactly sure what all happened, but I think the start of it was a missed foot substitution. Then because of that I quickly opted for an impromptu pedal point just to keep the bass support from dropping out completely. That change temporarily drew away an extra chunk of my mind power and the alto and tenor parts didn’t come out exactly the way they were written. Fortunately, my hymn playing instincts kicked in and I was able to keep the rhythm and tempo going in spite of the less than perfect note execution. If anyone in the congregation noticed at all, it probably sounded more like a second-rate improvisational attempt than a major train wreck. Well at least that’s what I tried to tell myself.

After the hymn concluded, I worked hard to generate a little positive self-talk. I don’t like making mistakes, but I am trying to be a little kinder to myself when I fall short of that elusive perfect performance. In my mind I heard a former music teacher telling me “We don’t practice over and over so we will be able to play perfectly every time. We practice so we’ll get to know the piece well enough that when the mistakes come we will be able to find our way through them.” And I had gotten through it all with minimal disruption.

It took a few more minutes of deliberately kind self-talk to stay out of my well traveled perfection path. But eventually my mind eased a bit as I reasoned that I really loved to play the organ. And if love covers a multitude of sins, maybe it could cover a few missed notes too. And besides that, I told myself,  perfection is really overrated…Right?

As a feeling of calm began to settle in my heart, the Spirit stepped in to teach me a desperately needed personal lesson. “It’s not all that different in life,” the gentle voice whispered to my mind. “We don’t go to church and read the scriptures and say our prayers so we won’t make any mistakes. We do all that stuff so that we know Christ well enough that when we make mistakes we can turn to him and find our way through the mistakes with minimal disruption.”

Wow, what a concept….I don’t have to be perfect!

I love being taught by God. He gives the best music lessons.


2 thoughts on “Practice Makes Perfect Comfortable

  1. I admire the spiritual lessons in life that you relate to your organ performance. I, too, have had “days like that” where I’ve wondered if I’ll be OK by the end of the hymn. Somehow my fingers managed to get on slightly different keys than I knew they should be…or……what WAS that key signature, anyway? Oh Florence, I’m so glad you put your experience into words for the rest of us. Any of us who have played any length of time in a service have encountered exactly your experience. It’s nice to know we’re not alone, but especially that a valuable lesson can be learned from that. I’m NOT perfect (much as I would like to be), and my organ performance often falls short, but I still keep on playing because, I, too, wouldn’t rather do anything else. I LOVE the organ, just as you do. I hope that my love for it (and my hard work) does cover a multitude of sins!

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