Listed under the responsibilities of just about every calling on this site is “PRACTICE REGULARLY TO AVOID MAKING MISTAKES”.
I have two little LDS piano students, sisters, who were just telling me yesterday about the many changes in their Primary Pianists. Apparently they’ve gone through a few just this year. The first, they told me, was fabulous. She never made mistakes and she was able to speed up or slow down if the director wanted the kids to sing the song different ways. The other pianists, the girls reported, had lots of pauses and note mistakes. So why am I writing this? Well, because it was apparent to a 7 and 10 year-old that these other pianists were not able to play the songs correctly. The girls could hear pauses and mistakes. Maybe these pianists had practiced and this was the best they could do, maybe they didn’t practice, I don’t really know. I think if they hadn’t put in the time and effort, perhaps they should have.
When I was first called as the ward organist I used to drop my little boys off at preschool and my infant daughter and I would go to the chapel for a couple of hours to practice the organ. We did this 2 or 3 times a week, more when I was preparing for Stake Conference. I worked hard at this calling because I wanted the organ to sound good. I practiced regularly to avoid making mistakes. Not that I played perfectly all the time, I wish. I do think it’s important for pianists, organists, and directors to understand that they shouldn’t just get up there and wing it, no matter how extensive their training. Your prelude, postlude, hymn playing, choir directing, etc. will go so much better if you practice. And now that I’m writing this I realize how relaxed I’ve become over the years in my organ practicing. I should take my own advice and get to the chapel regularly to practice.
I believe when you practice and prepare well you will be blessed. So many experiences have taught me this. Years ago I was accompanying my husband singing “O That I Were an Angel” for his brother’s missionary farewell (back when we used to have farewells). I had transposed the piece to accommodate my husband’s bass voice and I practiced so I could play it perfectly. The week of the farewell I got very sick. It was all I could do to drag myself to sacrament meeting. I knew I had to go because who else was going to transpose music on the spot like that? When it was our turn to perform, I looked at the music and to my horror the notes were moving around on the page, I was obviously very dizzy. I said a silent prayer asking for guidance as I accompanied my husband. I felt confident I would receive help because I had put in the practice time. I was guided through that piece. The notes were still swimming around on the page, but I played without a single mistake.