At a wedding recently I experienced the musical equivalent of a unicorn.
I would have taken pictures but it would have been weird if everyone was turned to look at the bride and I was taking pictures of the organ player. (Organist? Organneer? Not really sure.)
At this point in church music, I kind of assumed that organ players are an endangered species. Similar to how National Geographic will show you a profile of the Snow Leopard with a red dot in Tibet where they inhabit, I expected that Christianity Today would do the same thing with organ players, showing that their natural habitat is the Bible Belt and that there numbers are dwindling.
They have to be right? When is the last time you went to church and they jammed on the organ? And if they did, I promise the Organista was not in their 20s. It’s a gentleman’s instrument. It’s more Reader’s Digest and less Teen Vogue. But seeing this 25 year old blasting away on the organ raised a few questions in me.
1. How do you get into the organ? Is there a “gateway instrument” you play first? Like a xylophone, that leads to a pan flute, that eventually leads to an organ?
2. How do you practice if you love the organ? No one has one at home. Do you have to break into church in the middle of the night?
3. Is the Phantom of the Opera your Jimi Hendrix?
4. Does Zondervan publish a “Chris Tomlin songs for the Organ?” Or do you have to compose your own?
5. Who cleans the organs? Please tell me there is some sort of pipe-grinding monkey involved. Or a team of ferrets who wear swiffers on their furry little backs and climb in the pipes.
6. Do you have any rivalries? Like, do organ players hate the tambourine guy?
7. If you go on the road, do you have to fly with an organ? I hate paying for an extra bag when I fly. What’s an organ run you, like $18,000 at baggage check in?
8. Is playing the organ kind of like being Highlander? There can only be one player in your town?
9. Do you feel like you don’t get enough credit for what you do? I mean your instrument has approximately 87 buttons and 94 pedals. You’re not making music, you’re landing a plane. That’s harder than the three chords 95% of acoustic guitar players learn.
10. If I played the organ, I’d want to be the guy from the Counting Crows. That guy makes their songs so much better with the Hammond organ. Are Hammond players like the Navy Seals of the organ by any chance?
11. Are there enough of you that I’m going to receive a sharply worded letter or worse, an organ pipe in my bed?
So many questions. My head is a awash in intrigue. If we ever hang out and I’m quiet near you, this is they type of thing I’m thinking about.
I’m curious though, what instruments does your church play on Sunday morning?