Sometimes I marvel at the twists and turns of my path in music, considering that no one else in my family really reads music. I grew up in Toledo, Ohio and began in third grade with $1 piano lessons! In sixth grade, I was blessed with an amazing organ teacher. Her passion, love for organ repertoire, music theory, and most of all, her enthusiasm for hymns and church music was a life changing inspiration for me. She would sing along with hymns and service music as I played, and seemed to make it her mission to find places for me to practice and play. She very patiently coached me through my first service playing opportunities. The people at my first church job were so appreciative, considerate, and kind to me. The patient, encouraging mentors I had during these early years made such a difference for me. I’m sure other AGO members have had similar experiences. Sometimes I wonder if we, in turn, do enough to encourage the young musicians among us. Are we as accepting of imperfection in beginners as those gentle people were of me?
As time went on, I continued to be blessed with gifted music teachers through high school, college at the University of Toledo, and graduate school at Northwestern. I like to think that many of the lessons learned on the organ bench can also be applied to other areas of life. Given the opportunity, one of my favorite activities continues to be accompanying: choir, soloists, instrumentalists, and of course, a congregation. Just as organists have a unique ability to bring many diverse voices together in song, perhaps we also find it possible to bring individuals together for a common purpose in other ways. In my current vocation as a reading specialist, I often find that this collaborative, musician’s perspective can be helpful, whether working with beginning readers, other teachers, or parents.
Like me, I’m sure that other AGO members, whether professionals or amateurs, are also playing this wonderful instrument for the love of it. I hope to work together with the talented colleagues in the AGO to help spread our love for the pipe organ to others in our midst!
Kathy Roderer, board member