So in nearly 15 years of organisting, I never had an instrument simply quit on me … until last weekend.
One of my parishes uses a digital organ. A digital organ is a computer. Keep this all in mind as I tell this story.
I was playing the offertory hymn when the lights flickered. Power blink. A power blink means the organ goes off, of course, because it’s electrically powered. So I had a dead instrument in front of me. Which means… THE SYSTEM IS DOWN
At this point, you can tell who the professionals are in the room. The cantor, who goes back 20+ years with me, just kept singing. (Most people, unsurprisingly, stop.) And I quick-surveyed to recognized a few things.
- The organ would take a while to reboot, as it’s a computer. (This had happened to me with this organ before, just before a funeral started, and it took nearly 3 minutes while it ran its unexpected-turnoff diagnostics.)
- The piano is six feet away.
- The cantor is still singing, in tune, even.
- If I get to the piano, we can continue the song.
OK, the previous section is pretty much untrue. Your instinct, as a musician, is to continue the song as long as there aren’t sparks flying out of somewhere. So I just grabbed the book, skedaddled to the piano, and was playing again in about 10 seconds, or 10 minutes, as it felt. And everyone just moved on.
I wish it were just a minor thing, but put simply, we don’t know. The organ wouldn’t turn back on, so I had to stay on piano. And we don’t know why it won’t reboot. My fear is that something got fried in the hardware, and that fix ain’t cheap. With any luck, it’s a simple circuit issue that can be fixed quickly, or with a lot of luck, the issue will have cleared itself.
Like a lot of instrument issues, it’s no one’s fault, but it’s everyone’s problem. And when something like that goes wrong, all you can do is grin, bear it, and keep on going however you can.