Worth Doing

Gustav Holst is reputed to have  said, in reference to church music and musicians, that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. I know I have reported this on the Trail before, and it was once again brought home to me last evening at our Lessons and Carols service.

It went quite well, actually, given that the new music and worship director had never done a service like this before, and that the bell choir director was miffed because she thought she and I should have planned it. I helped to smooth things out between the two of them and found as many readers for the lessons as I could. We had two 8 year old girls read lessons, and they did a great job. I also enlisted a very theatrical guy from the Episcopal church to read, as well as with our family lawyer and me and Husband. (I tried to get the UCC pastor to read, but she was having 16 people over for dinner last night).  We had an impromptu children’s choir for the first time at this service, along with a flute player, a clarinet player, our assistant pastor on trumpet, and  a violin player.  Husband sang a solo from a Finnish folk hymn Lost in the Night.  The choir sang and the bell  choir rang.  All the music was appropriate for the service, and the director curbed her tendency for evangelical  praise music.

We never had a dress rehearsal, but it all fell together. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked and everyone left in good spirits.  The bell choir director and the worship and music director  embraced after it was over. I hope as you read this you can think back to programs and pageants from your past.

What is the most elaborate thing you have planned?  Any stories from past pageants or programs?


19 thoughts on “Worth Doing”

  1. you’re on your own today renee
    i hate committees
    i was involved in one kids all night party for high school graduation. i was in charge of prizes to be purchased with coupons or tickets. they assigned me a co chair and she took over and was so obnoxious i bailed. it was horrible. ugh is the word
    as snoopy said
    i love mankind it’s people i can’t stand

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Well, Renee, my planning of such a thing did not go well.

    Years ago, when my son was in Bible School programs at church, I would volunteer to help run this event. One year the theme was “Fishers of Men.” As part of this theme we thought we would feature some goldfish for the kids to watch and to take home if they had permission from parents.

    So I arranged to purchase 3 dozen goldfish from a vendor who would buy them back if not all the kids could take them home. Someone had a very large fish tank to use on site. Someone else was supposed to fill the tank 24 hours ahead of the event; this gave the water time to warm and aerate so the fish would tolerate the change. I impressed on that person the importance of the water temperature and timing of this maneuver. He nodded and gave me a mouthful of assurances that he understood.

    That person did not fill the tank in time, but that person did not tell me. I got the fish and put them in the tank at the appointed hour. Within the next several hours 3 dozen goldfish were belly up. We tried some minnows in a small wading pool. They all died, too.

    Altogether we murdered dozens of fish in the cause of teaching children to be “Fishers of Men.” No wonder the church is struggling now after an entire generation of children had to endure these “lessons.”

    Yesterday at church there was a marvelous music service which all went beautifully, featuring the pipe organ, a brass quintet, and adult and children’s choir. It was the opposite of the Bible School experience, but I was not not involved in the planning.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Our elementary school had a music teacher who floated. Mrs. Moore was an incurable optimist, a crucial quality in someone who must organize Christmas pageants using prepubescent barbarians as the talent.

    When Mrs. Moore tried to organize our fifth grade Christmas pageant, I told her I could not sing. At all. She didn’t believe me. “Everybody can sing!” “Not me.” “Steve, I’m sure you can sing. You have such a beautiful voice.”

    She set me up to sing a solo, Silent Night, while she strummed her harpsichord. I did my best, warbling with errant pitch. When I finished, Mrs. Moore was uncharacteristically silent. Then she brightened. “Oh, Steve, we have the perfect role for you. You can be our NARRATOR!” And I was, for the next five years.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. At a recent concert at the Catholic high school, a guy fell asleep in the audience and started to snore really loudly. What made this worse was his wife exclaiming as loudly “Jesus Christ!!!”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Very late in her life, my mother in law attended a Christmas concert at the famous Basilica in Minneapolis. An orchestra played some Balkan composition, all very minor-key. There was a break in the music just before they did the exciting gallop to the conclusion. Thinking the performance had ended, my mil said in a loud voice heard throughout the cathedral, “God, was THAT DEPRESSING!” My wife and daughter hid, slumping down behind pews.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There was a Shakespeare play once. Friends of ours were in the audience and Kelly was in the show. During the show one of our friends (there was alcohol involved) said very loudly “What the F**k is going on?”
        That’s become a favorite party story.


  5. As an erstwhile band director in a small northern jr-sr high school, I decided that a Pops Concert would be a great thing for our little community since they apparently had never heard of such a thing. So I planned a program of more or less “pop” music that allowed kids to do skits, do solos or ensemble pieces, wear non-formal concert garb, and “have fun” performing–as opposed to the “agony” of a serious performance.

    All that sticks out for our first Pops Concert was me dressing up in all black, wearing a Darth Vader mask, and directing the Star Wars theme as the opening number.

    But the logistics of decorating, setting up risers, props, getting kids on and off stage to prepare for skits, etc, was a daunting challenge, especially since no one had any experience with that musical format. I’m sure the performances were mediocre at best, but I think the kids had some fun with the idea. We did a Pops Concert every one of my six years at the school and most of the kids bought into the idea.

    It’s one of the chores I don’t miss about being a band director–planning and organizing concerts of any type.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Morning!

    I remember being in a lot of church programs as a kid. Nothing serious; no flying angels or anything. I don’t think we even had live animals; just the usual towels tied around our heads.

    Doing theater though, there’s been a lot of times I wondered what I got myself into. Oh, there are the infamous horror stories.
    You want your kids to dance? You want them to have fun you to go this studio and they’ll make sure everyone has fun and learns to dance too. You want them to become serious dancers you go to this studio. They’ll teach you to dance and they might make you cry but you’ll become a better dancer.

    The productions that are still painting backstage while the audience is coming in. Or there are sets that never do get finished.
    I’ve seen drunk actors replaced with the director carrying a script onstage.
    I’ve seen an actor so forgetful, they taped a wire down to the stage and gave him a wireless in-ear monitor (this was 30 years ago so probably state of the art at the time) so the stage manager could feed him lines.
    So many shows we never do think they’ll come together.

    My dad was on the County Fair board for many years. He spent a month prior to the fair getting the fairgrounds ready. That seemed as hectic to them as putting on a show for me.

    Remember kids, work smarter, not harder.


    1. I was in a high school production of Arsenic and Old Lace. An actor hooked his ankle in a lamp chord. The lamp fell from the side table to the floor, then made a long lazy roll downstage, falling eventually into the orchestra pit. The actor who set the lamp rolling was so rattled that he skipped about two pages of script and began delivering lines meant to be spoken later.

      I thought the whole thing had been a fiasco. In the audience was my grandmother. She later told me, “I just loved the play, especially the part where the lamp rolled across the floor.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 1986, I had the lead role in ‘Play it Again, Sam’, kind of a Woody Allen type role. Answered the door onstage and somehow hooked my foot in the leg of a plant stand. Answers the door while getting the plant stand off my foot at the same time. There’s a neighbor who saw that show and still talks about how funny that was.

        (And the young lady who comes in at the end of the show and turns out the be the love interest? That was a the young lady I had just started dating who turned out to be my wife. At auditions, the woman who was stage managing told the director “He’s dating a really cute red-head”. Kelly was at rehearsals for another show. I got her on a the phone ((Using a phone in the office to get Kelly on the phone backstage at the other theater)) and he said to her, “Just say ‘Hello’. She giggled and said “Hello” and he said ‘You’re cast. Come get a script.
        True story.)

        Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.