Attention All Organists: a way to improve your playing… Guaranteed!

Would you like a surefire way to improve your organ playing? Check out this repost from The Organ Is Praise. I wholeheartedly endorse what the author has to say. This is good stuff! I will even go so far as to offer a 100% money back guarantee if it doesn’t work for you!!!

I have a suggestion that will greatly help your playing: Forgive someone!

Yes, forgive someone. In fact, forgive everyone! Forgive the ward members who talk over your preludes, the church leaders that have openly censured you from the pulpit, the people who have sent you hate mail, the people who can barely play who were chosen for special meetings over you and the people who chose them, the visiting authority who walked into your practice time and spent the next 15 minutes yelling at you, the student who didn’t practice and everyone else who has ever trespassed against you. Forgive them all, no matter how great or small or silly the insult, and do it now.

All of the things in the previous paragraph have happened to me and, quite frankly, they hurt at time they occurred. Some of them hurt for years afterwards.  One day, however, I woke up and realized that I was carrying too much baggage around. I went to the Lord and told him that this was over. It didn’t matter how much I hurt or how justified I thought I was in how I felt. It was time to end the hurt and move on.

Why do I say that this will help your playing? It is because, as church musicians, we must have the Spirit of the Lord with us as we serve others. Bitterness is spiritual poison. It keeps the Spirit away and finally destroys the soul.

Why am I talking about this? It’s because, in my many years of church service, I’ve met too many great organists who, due to pride or offense taken, have hung an “out of order” sign around their necks and stopped serving. The number of people I have met who have made that choice is, unfortunately, way more than one or two. Service to the Lord and his church are the hallmarks of a great LDS organist. Without it, we are no longer great.

Just before I met my dear wife another young man was actively courting her. She wanted nothing more to do with him after he told her that he had deliberately flunked a class because the professor had offended him. She realized that he did not understand that by this behavior he was only hurting himself.

So, please – forgive someone today! You’ll be glad you did. Also, please forgive yourself.

Thanks, Harold!

When Receiving Is Better Than Giving

When I was young and would vocalize my Christmas wish list, I was often reminded that it was better to give than to receive. Though I’m sure my parents were just trying to help me think beyond my own childish self-centeredness, I sometimes thought I was being told that it was bad to receive. This idea was perpetuated through my adult life with the occasional misunderstanding of words such as independent and selfsufficient—bringing the message that to receive help or assistance was not good and was, in fact, an indication of my own lack of moral character.

The holidays bring many opportunities for giving. As musicians we may feel a particular need and desire to give of ourselves at this time since Christmas is so closely connected with music in our culture. I appreciate those who bring the Spirit of Christmas into my heart by sharing their musical gifts. We learn through the life of the One whose birth we celebrate that sharing our gifts with those around us is one way we can show our love for Him.

I have been taught that when we are serving our fellow beings we are serving our God. Generally this doctrine is discussed from the point of the giver. The take-home message is that giving is good. And it’s true. Giving is good. There is much joy to be found in being generous and kind. But is it really better to give than to receive?

Let’s look at that concept again—when we are serving our fellow beings we are serving our God. To me it means that when we are the one being served we stand as representatives of God. This suggests that we have the responsibility and opportunity to receive gifts from others in a similar way that He would receive them—with joy, acceptance, gratitude, and appreciation. He does not respond this way because the gift is perfect, but because His love is perfect.

This is a wonderful season of giving and receiving. My Christmas wish for you is that you may feel the joy of giving and receiving in your heart—this Season and always.

Merry Christmas!