Stake Conference—Lessons Learned

It’s been a week and a half since stake conference. And I think I’ve recovered. Not just from the stress of playing a new instrument in a new space with a lot more people than usual (about 1,400 more than usual!) but I’ve also caught up with all the stuff I put on hold so I could put in a little extra practice time beforehand.

And it came off well. Not perfectly. But very well. If it had come off perfectly I probably wouldn’t have learned as much.

Here’s a brief recap of some lessons learned from my initial encounter with the brand-spanking new 3-manual Johannus at the YSA building in Provo:

Don’t trust the presets.  The organ has a ton of thumb & toe pistons and 100 gazillion memories. Two of the memories are set (by a pianist, maybe?) and remain locked. Memory 1 is for hymns. Memory 2 for prelude/postludes. A handy little thing for those who are not comfortable starting from scratch. Well, handy, that is, if you like the growling chaos that comes when you have 16′ stops in the manual. Every hymn preset! Aaarrrggg…

Put reading glasses in a very obvious place.  Generally my contact lenses are sufficient when I’m at the organ. However, the music rack distance at the Johannus was too great for my contact correction and required a pair of off-the-shelf reading glasses to bring things into focus. During prelude I looked at the large, clear music and noted with great pride that I had remembered to pack my glasses. “Yes. I’m so good!” After completing the prelude I remained at the bench, glasses on, for the opening hymn which followed. Then break time. Glasses off. Sit in the comfy new seats. Aahh, a moment of rest. Then time for the intermediate hymn, which went something like this:

Introduction Why am I having such a hard time with this?
A mighty fortess is our God. The notes seem so small…
A tower of strength ne’er failing. And fuzzy…
A helper mighty is our God. My glasses!
O’er ills of life prevailing. Where are they?
He overcometh all. Can I grab them during the next fermata?
He saveth from the Fall. Maybe…if I hold this chord with one hand.
His might and pow’r are great. Yeah, right. And how do I put them on…
He all things did create....quickly?
And he shall reign forevermore. I’m so glad there’s only one verse…

Preparing a well-composed last verse arrangement for the final hymn is a good idea. I used Daniel Berghout’s reharmonization of The Spirit of God. The music, the text, the organ, the singing….it all brought the spirit so powerfully. Awesome!

Schedule recup time. Maybe it’s not this way for you, but playing in stake conference wears me out. I love the experience. I feel that the energy I expend in preparation, as well as the actual event, is well-spent. But energy, well-spent or not, is still spent. So I’m glad I took that much needed break last week. Next time I think I’ll plan for a two week break!

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3 thoughts on “Stake Conference—Lessons Learned

  1. i have no clue how to play the organ, but fortunately that doesn’t stop me from enjoying reading your posts and admiring your writing skill 🙂

  2. Although reading about the beautiful new organ you were able to play on made me drool, I am still glad that I can play an organ for stake conference that is very familiar, albeit inferior to yours! It’s tried-and-true, as they say. However, I’m sure I don’t learn as much as I would if I had to prepare with a new organ. Good for you, Florence. Next time won’t be so hard, will it?

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