Inspired by this essay.
Would it be too cliché to start this post with the “there is a time for everything” scripture? Probably. How’s this:
This is what I try to tell myself whenever I’m lamenting the way things used to be, or how things could be, if only I would try harder, sleep less, drink more coffee, etc.
For example, learning new organ repertoire is not exactly my strong suit at the moment. Back in the day, when I was young (ha!) and single, I would spend 10-15 hours, often more, practicing and preparing for a new service. I would learn primarily new music, with maybe 1-2 pieces per service that were something I’d previously played. I’d use the organ’s recording system to record myself playing, and then I’d walk out into the sanctuary to critique my registrations and tempos. I’d struggle to make the modulation just how I wanted it, and I’d obsess over having the anthem registrations just right. Now? Well, let’s just say that my preparation habits are drastically different. Every piece I choose is something I’ve played before. I can’t remember the last time I changed the registrations I use for introit, modulation, and hymns. My total preparation time is usually in the neighborhood of 3 hours. And I’m ok with that. At least most of the time.
I can prepare in less time because I’m a more experienced organist than I was 10 years ago, when I started playing for LaGrave. I’m reaping the benefits of the time I spent learning new repertoire. Most of the hymns are ones I’ve played before. I’ve learned how to be confident without running through everything 10 million times. (Not to say that I don’t still FAIL. Because life and anxiety.)
But sometimes I get frustrated. I know that I could play more difficult music, or learn new music, if only I would spend more time. I want to reaffirm my abilities to myself, to know that I’m not a washed-up old organist just recycling the same 10 pieces over and over again. Which is why I have to remind myself that this is just not the season of life for learning new music. It will be again some day, but now is not that time. Not when there are two little girls at home who need their mama. Not when family time is so precious and so hard to come by during the busy school year. Not when I need every last scrap of sleep I can get in order to survive these long, hectic days.
Just gotta remember that there will be another time… Some day.