Can I talk to you whilst you are playing?..

The following tale has been factually enhanced, but is based upon many true life events. Any resemblance to real people, either living or otherwise, is however entirely co-incidental.

When asked what is actually like ‘playing the organ’, I often struggle to find an analogy. But I shall use this one which grew via a FaceBook stream, (thank you to all those contributors!).

Playing the organ can be rather like driving a hired left-hand driven car with bald tyres, in a foreign country, without a satnav, in the snow, at nightime without lights or functioning windscreen wipers. The children are in the back seat, with their own private agendas, which could include any combination from a menu including a full nappy, a toy car emitting a cycle of repeated vile electronic siren noises, an empty stomach, a full bladder, requests for the umpteenth repeat of “the wheels on the bus”

It can get no worse – until an angry hornet joins you in the front of the car, and proceeds to get angrier as he bashes his head against the windscreen, then maybe dances around your face, looking for a suitable place to plant his venom.

ONE FALSE MOVE – and the whole of life comes crashing down.

Well I’d say it’s a lot like that! With the organ though, you are only ever one misplaced toe or an over-moist sneeze away from sounding like a complete idiot!


With this in mind, I wonder how anyone who asks you a question when you are playing can ever hope to get any answer out of you that is intelligible, other than a series of rhythmic grunts and groans.

So as you are hacking your way through your semiquaver-ridden post-service voluntary, this seems a perfect time for someone to tap you on the shoulder, and when you have returned back to the stool after having jumped three feet in the air in abject shock, they ask if you are free to play for their wedding in 3-and-a -half years’ time. Then, you are given a verbal list of chosen music and a short performance of a piece to go out to that they “don’t know the name of but it goes “Da-da     da Da-da     da Da-da    da Da-da” – do you know the one?”

“Veedor   stack-arter” you manage to hiss through pursed lips and gritted teeth, as you reach the particularly difficult pedal bit….

“How do you spell that? Tracey, get a pen….”

So – “Can I talk to you whilst you are playing?…”

“Yes, as long as I can tickle your feet when you are saying your vows”!


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16 thoughts on “Can I talk to you whilst you are playing?..

  1. I’m going to print some of these up and put them in the church magazine. If only I could stop a certain person coming up to me and yelling in my ear as I’m playing the postlude…..every Sunday!


  2. Happened to me on Sunday morning. Had a late Saturday night so playing out with Trumpet Voluntary. Just up to the pedal ‘dah dah dah dah dah dah’ run. Right foot on trigger swell pedal (very old organ) left foot ready to heel and toe its way down the pedalboard. Right hand working over time on Great as left hand gets ready to flip a page over. All is well. Then choir member slaps me on the back and yells “Have a good week!” down my right ear. It hasn’t been.


  3. Do you give cheaper rates for funerals, seein as how it’s sad. And can the mourners do a Karaoke instead of eulogies.


  4. I love your blog. As funny as it can be, it is unfortunately all true.
    1. I have had an infant crawl across my pedal keys, blasting and ruining the music while mum was talking to her neighbour in line.
    2. I have had a hornet roaring in the choir as they ducked away and when it landed on the great, I thought”Great!” and was out of there in a flash. I’m not sure anyone even noticed my absence.
    3. A small child came up to the organ and began to press low C whilst I was tryimg to play another postlude. I leaned over and hissed, “If you touch that again I shall break your fingers!” Terrified, she ran out and made her way to the church kitchen where she crawled into a low cupboard and pulled the door shut.
    4. This may have happened to you also. One October I was playing Vierne’s Symphonie No. 1 and a boy walked over and said to me, “You really play great Hallowee’en music.”

    I was an organist and choirmaster 34 years. I retired in 2001 when I had both knees replaced. I still miss it

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This ( and you) is TRANSFORMING the thread – for the better! Church Choristers and Organists have a unique view on music and a KEEN sense of humour, which they REALLY do need! Lovely Blog – congrats. Keep playing! Our organist and Choirmaster at Aspley Guise used to play one voluntary when he only used pedals. I called it ‘Look, no hands’…..don’t know its name, but he is Head of Music Faculty at OU, so it must be fairly familiar. Maybe you could try that? Then you could Strike people who try to interrupt!

    Best wishes and happy All Saints Day,


    Liked by 1 person

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