Musician's Worst Nightmare. . .
  • PolskaPiano
    Posts: 214
    A text woke me up this morning- a text sent 6 minutes before mass asking my ETA. (I arrived at the church 7 minutes after the hour and we were playing the entrance hymn 12 minutes past. . .They had decided to wait for me!) This was my 1st time in 13 years that I was late for a Sunday mass. It doesn't matter that I've played at least 1500 masses in my lifetime- I was still late for this one. I am grateful to God that I had one of my best cantors waiting and ready to go. She even had my accompaniment book opened to the opening hymn. I say down and the entrance hymn began. I looked at my feet the whole mass.

    Grief shared is grief halved, they say. Let's see if that does the same for shame. . . Have you had ever been late to mass?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,992
    I have never been late, but I did dream about being late. That was scary enough.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 738
    I was late for Mass once. My alarm didn't go off and I woke up 5 minutes before Mass was supposed to begin. I was out the door in three minutes and it took me two minutes to get to the church and one minute to get into the loft. I arrived at the sign of the cross and had my music all set by the Kyrie (but I was out of breath). If it had been the one priest, he would have waited a couple minutes to see if I showed, but the one who doesn't wait happened to be scheduled.

    Now I set two alarms all the time.
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 401
    I have a recurring dream that causing me to wake in extreme anxiety. In my dream I arrive at the stroke of the hour, which is already too late, and I find literally everything in the church in disarray. All the music set out and assigned is from "Glory and Praise," the choir is being lead by some stranger who knows nothing about sacred music or choirs, there are rock bands all around down front and when I finally sit at the organ console, I discover to my horror that the console is cardboard. I awake in horror!
  • I am not the organist, thank goodness.
    In 25+ yrs, just once my clock failed me. By the time I arrived, the priest had already processed in, the Introit was under way.
    >> Now I set two alarms all the time.
    I don't always, but I sure should. Thanks for reminder

    My worst nightmare was an actual nightmare. Confirmations were scheduled - max stress for me - and I dreamed that I showed up at the church and had left my Liber at home (about an hour's drive away). All my notes are in it, and nowhere else. Yikes was I glad to wake up from that one.
    I have spent quarantine time duplicating those notes into files that someone else can hold onto... You never know.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 324
    Once in college I slept through my alarm, maybe after an all-nighter or something, but I don’t remember engaging in any egregious behavior that would have put me in a stupor. The church was up the road, and when I didn’t show half an hour early as usual, someone drove down the street to the college and beat on my window 15 before Mass. I threw on some clothes and jumped in the car and got there in time for the prelude.

    Another time in grad school I was pulled over by a NJ state trooper, handcuffed, and thrown in the back of the squad car, because the cop thought I had marijuana in my car. How he could have guessed this while I was driving 65 down the expressway, and why someone in a suit and tie with a car full of organ music would be lying about being an organist on his way to church, I can’t understand, but he searched my car for half an hour, and eventually let me go. I think I made it in by the Gloria.

    Several times I was delayed in getting from one church in my former parish to another, because someone’s wedding started slightly too late or Fr. Visitor preached too long. It was often the case that I had a 3p Nuptial Mass at St. X just before a 4p Mass at St. Y 5 minutes away, because St. Y’s organist retired after the wedding was scheduled. If everyone behaved, I could drive like Jehu and be fine; if one little thing went wrong, I’d be there by the first reading. I always felt terribly about that, but organists were scarce in that area.

    So I think that’s 8 times I’ve been late out of maybe 2,000 liturgies in my nine-year career, or 0.4%.

  • Heath
    Posts: 876
    Slept in XMAS MORNING one time and arrived at the homily during the 8 AM Mass. The music area was in the front of the church so I had to make the "walk of shame" while the priest was finishing the homily. I wanted to die.
  • My first Easter at the Lutheran church which I served for many years and which always had a 'sunrise service' at 6.00am was a near disaster.. Choir call was for 5.00am. About 5.15 I received a call, and the person calling said, 'Mr Osborn, we were just noticing that you weren't here'. Shocked, I hopped out of bed faster than ever I had and got to the church at twenty of six, in time to direct the brass and play the organ for the prelude music. Every Easter after that went to bed with dread the night before - but was never late again.

    I had a dream once that I, the choir, the brass and drums were all in the church prepared to sing the music for Easter. A little way into the 'service' whilst joyously performing our festive music we noticed that no people were in the church, and realised that Easter wasn't until the 'next week'.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,992
    I don't oversleep since I have three alarms. One, I have to get out of bed and walk across the room to turn off. Granted, the car could fail, a tree could fall across the road, or any number of unexpected events could make one late.

    My bad dream of getting to mass late involved sitting at the organ waiting to begin the entrance hymn. First I noticed a speck of dust on the keys. Of course, I had to stop and clean it off. Then the organ mirror wasn't adjusted right so I had to fix that. Then I noted the mirror needed cleaning. The entrance hymn was, "Holy, Holy, Holy." Why that one, I have no idea. I found first one thing and then another that had to be fixed before I could play the first note. I dreamed I was never able to get beyond all these things and start playing. The whole time the congregation and priest were waiting. Why this dream at that time, I will never know. Crazy!
  • .
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,992
    When I was young I could sleep through the second coming and not even notice. Until I went into the Army, that is. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. and such made me a much lighter sleeper. You know, have to hear the enemy approaching.
    Thanked by 2cesarfranck Elmar
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,300
    My first Christmas as a ringer I drove 96 miles for the Dec. 24 warmup rehearsal and found a dark locked church. After waiting from 8:45 to 9:00 I was mortified at not having grasped that 9AM must have been meant and returned home, to learn later that the 10PM Service had gone on without me.
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,467
    I was late for my first wedding. I think I was about 14. I was the "organist" for my tiny parish because there was no one else. One day I got a call from my pastor asking if I could play a wedding... NOW. I quickly got ready, found my dad so he could drive me over and played the wedding. I didn't know any wedding music at all. PTL they didn't have Youtube or FB back then or I would have been on a viral "can you believe it's THAT BAD" church music video.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,049
    It's happened to me three times. I can sleep through almost anything. I'm glad to be married to a light sleeper. Knock on wood, haven't had issues since eleven years ago! :)
  • I once was late to mass because I had a one-hour commute and got caught in a multi-mile traffic jam due to construction. I was normally 30 mins early and this time I sped like the dickens after clearing the mess and got there during the Gloria. To my great delight and surprise, the priest had started the gloria a cappella from memory on the right pitch. By the second phrase I came in on a soft string with the box closed (partly to make sure our pitches would match) and phrase by phrase I slowly added to the organ until I was back to normal by the end. Totally seamless entrance. Almost as if he had simply intoned the incipit and we had planned it. It was quite the experience and one I'll never forget. The Lord's providence is truly amazing!

    Unfortunately, this thread is very timely... This very weekend on Saturday morning, I received a call at 8:56am from the DRE asking where I was. It turns out, at some point I was dropped off the email thread when the date for FIRST COMMUNION was decided. "Didn't Father tell you?" ", he did not mention it..." I was shaking. Mass was supposed to start in 4 minutes and I had bed head and was just milling about the house in a pair of shorts.

    I threw on my clothes and bolted to church on my bike. Mercifully for me, I live (currently) two blocks from church and can see the portico from my front porch. Mass only started 5 minutes late, and I simply grabbed the Fr. Weber chant book and sang the propers for Corpus Christi. It turned out there was both a 9am and 11am FC mass and no one had told me. Suffice to say, it made for a long and stressful morning, but mercifully my pastor was not upset with me. I did have to chuckle though, when I flew into the sacristy at 9:01 and he just looked at me and exclaimed, "I don't care! Just do anything!" and I bolted right back out the door.

    Another memory for the annuls.
  • PolskaPiano
    Posts: 214
    Thank you for commiserating!
    I had set 3 alarms and had my phone next to me, but I had an awful time falling asleep the night prior and think my body was just exhausted.
    I thank my guardian angel for helping me hear- of all things- that small blip from a text!

    So far the pastor did not say anything. The cantor did, saying, "We're so glad Emily is here now!" It was a touch of passive aggression I could ignore because it was my fault!
    One particularly sassy parishoner after mass commented, "It was nice of you to join us!" Ouch!
  • TCJ
    Posts: 738
    It's kind of funny, but I know people who are late to work nearly every day (for years) and get away with it. If we're late once, it's a big deal.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,289
    once, (when i was an immature 17 yo.) i awoke four minutes to mass time and never ran so fast to church in my entire life before that (or since, i believe). turned on the mighty baldwin holding the first chord to the first hymn as people were standing waiting at two minutes after the hour. never will forget that.

    it was a 12 noon mass.

    (i still have the gift of sleep to this day)
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,199
    Isn’t that the truth, @TCJ ?!?!
    Thanked by 2cesarfranck Elmar
  • Francis,

    Did this experience change you to a mature 17 y.o.?
    Thanked by 2cesarfranck Elmar
  • Can I tell another musician’s worst nightmare?

    A church organist I know was playing solo one day from an open hymnal, when the thing decided to snap shut and leap from the music rack
    Striking each of the 3 manuals on the way down
    before finally glancing off his leg and landing on the pedalboard.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,289

    No... doesn't happen like that. You know, of course, when I had reached 21 I thought I had attained Nirvana. (little did I know that Nirvana meant to completely empty my mind... sort of the VII aggiornamento state of being, I suppose) Had to pray, confess, grow up and find some humility over the years, usually suffering self inflicted humiliation. It did make an impression on me however.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,499
    mme - I watched (in the organists mirror) something similar happen to an elderly cathedral organist. He chased the heavy tome all the way down the keyboard from the middle and off the bottom end.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,289
    falling music books... first priority... hit the cancel button.
  • second priority.... resolve to stop playing from bound hymnals meant for hands to hold

    (third priority - go have a talk with Mr Jack Daniels)

    Francis - problem with humility is that it is so elusive. Self imposed exercises in this virtue are not effective, and whoever thinks she has developed it has surely not...

    through experience, I learned some time ago that if the CD needs lessons in humility, it spells trouble for the choir … :-x
    Thanked by 2cesarfranck Elmar
  • ...problem with humility...
    Mme. -
    The real problem with humility, I think, is that it is rather like wisdom. He or she who has it would never notice it, nor let on that he or she had it. It is something that only others would take note of and remark about. Beware the person who says 'I have humility', or "I have wisdom'. This is why, as you say, 'self imposed exercises in this virtue are not effective'. Like music itself, humility is a gift. (And, 'being humble' and having humility are not the same thing.)
    Thanked by 2cesarfranck Elmar
  • TCJ
    Posts: 738
    I was playing from a three-ring binder for a wedding. During the recessional, the binder decided to close on its own and leap off the music rack. Fortunately I had a quick-acting cantor who had decided to stay for the music instead of running off at first opportunity. She made a just-in-the-nick-of-time lunge and caught the binder before it could cause chaos. Later I found out that it was a faulty binder and the snaps didn't work properly on it. It went into the garbage.
  • For occasions at which there is a lot of music I do not use hymnals or any other books at all. I xerox everything and put it all on the music rack in the order in which it will be played and peel it off when it is finished with. This eliminates the constant putting of this and that on the rack, fiddling with this book and that, and eliminates the chance of having the wrong thing there at the wrong time - or dropping a book, etc.
  • TCJ your cantor’s reflexes are just short of angelic!
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,289
    I just don't use music anymore... just make it all up as I go along. Don't even turn the desk light on, and let my five year old pull stops whenever he wants. He likes the buttons too since he sees a bunch of stops pop in and out at the same time. (end purple)
    Thanked by 3bhcordova Carol Elmar
  • Caleferink
    Posts: 352
    Two instances I can remember, only one of which was my fault:

    (1) When I was in college I played for the 7:00 a.m. Mass at the parish in which I grew up and to which I returned after my family and I had moved away from there before my freshman year of high school. It was/is a very progressive parish where that was the only Mass time that seemed to appreciate any volume of more traditional music with any regularity (I would play many of the other Mass times as well - while I didn't care for much of the music, I loved the people with whom I got to work). One Saturday evening I forgot to turn my alarm clock on, only to wake up at 7:30 and break into a cold sweat. I threw on some clothes in the dark and drove to the church (since I was also scheduled to play the following Mass at 8:45 a.m.), arriving just as the 7:00 a.m. Mass was letting out. Fortunately that Mass also had a cantor who was very comfortable singing a cappella.

    (2) I was substituting for a wedding about 45 minutes north of my parish for whom I nevertheless often assist for weddings and funerals semi-regularly, anyway. The music director told me it started at 11:00 a.m. Even when I'm the only musician as I was in this case, I like to arrive at least one hour early, and so I happened to get there right at 10:00 a.m. - as the wedding procession was forming in the back of the church! Thanks be to God someone else in the wedding party was also running late, and so I had a couple of minutes to get set up. Fortunately for me also the priest is a friend of mine who covered for me by saying I took this funeral on very short notice! It turns out I had been told the wrong time.
  • It's kind of funny, but I know people who are late to work nearly every day (for years) and get away with it. If we're late once, it's a big deal.

    Before I became a full-time music director, I used to have a 40/wk job in addition to playing on the weekends. Whenever I had to leave work for a wedding/funeral or even Saturday Mass (when we had to do overtime) I always used to joke, "I cannot be late! Trust me... they will notice!" Fortunately my employers seemed to understand (for the most part). They didn't like me cutting out early on Saturday afternoons during mandatory overtime though. Fortunately, I could explain that this was a regular gig, all year round, and it didn't change just because they jerked my schedule around a few weekends a year. I had also been working for the church longer than for them. Seemed to keep them at bay for the most part.
    Thanked by 2hilluminar Elmar
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,289
    UPDATE on self-inflicted humiliation definition

    I wasn't trying to self-inflict humility excersizes... my own ignorance brought it upon me.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Back in the seventies, when I was at the large Lutheran church that I served for many years I was visiting a priest friend of mine one Saturday in a town about 35 miles from Houston. I just happened to look at my watch around 4.15 or so and nearly had a heart attack when I suddenly realised that I was supposed to be playing a wedding at the Lutheran church at 4.00. Expecting to be reamed out for this very serious oversight, the pastor was very 'understanding' about it all and said that he had told the couple that they had a very unique and beautiful wedding. That was a once in a lifetime slip of memory because I never forget the time and place of engagements. I forget some things, but never the time, place, and date of an appointment even if it is six months away.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Can I borrow some of your memory, Jackson?
  • cesarfranck
    Posts: 133
    Sleeping late is not a problem as I am a light sleeper and live two blocks from church. I was stranded on my sister's sailboat in a river one windless August Sunday afternoon and missed an evening service. No cell phones to make contacts and my sister and father refused the humiliation of a numerous motor boat navigators towing us to shore. Meanwhile, my mother had been called by several people at the church who held a prayer vigil on my behalf.
  • Can I...
    Chris -
    Yes, I can lend you some if you want it.
    I lend it out for two weeks.
    There is a ten cent overdue charge for every day you are late returning it.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • I played organ for the 8:30 a.m. Mass at my college's chapel during my junior year; that year, we used Proulx's arrangement of Schubert's German Mass. I lived off campus, 10 minute the time I got to the chapel and parked, it was about 20 minutes to Mass, and I realized I left the accompaniment behind. There was no extra accompaniment book in the director's possession and the locked closet where there were extras was on the other side of campus. Scrambling for a key was out of the question. Fortunately, the choir knew a basic chant Mass...except a chanted Gloria, so we had to endure an awkward, monotone spoken Gloria. Lesson: always triple check your music bag before heading to Mass!
  • Jackson,

    I would only be late in returning it if I somehow managed to forget that it was due, which would, of course, mean that it hadn't succeeded in improving my own memory.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,265
    I am not an organist or keyboard player, but I have had the occasional nightmare of being assigned to the organ for Mass and finding that the pedals have no bottom point of resistance and there's no floor beneath them.
  • Liam

    Were you awake when this nightmare occurred?
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,265
    LOL. No.
  • tandrews
    Posts: 96
    I overslept once and got pulled over while I was speeding to the church. I got there about 30 seconds before the priest was ready to go. He asked if I was ready, I said "give me 2 seconds to catch my breath, then yes."

    A couple weeks ago I accidentally set my alarm from 7:30 and not 6:30, so I would have missed 8 AM Mass completely. Thankfully the toddler was up and about making a mess in his room and woke us up, so it all worked out.

    I have recurring dreams of being unprepared for Mass. It happens about every 2 weeks. It usually involved not being able to find my music in time and trying to play everything from memory while I make the walk of shame of being up to 30 minutes late. My old choir director at ND is usually there too, staring daggers at me while I get to the organ.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,659
    You guys want to hear a real "musician's nightmare", ask Incardination. He's got a doozy.
    Thanked by 2Carol Elmar
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 598
    I have only a minor fail to add to these hilarious stories: the first Gregorian chant group I was ever in was made up of four of us who had taken an 8 week class together in the previous few months. One of us had gone to minor seminary, one (a German) had had choir experience, another had general music experience, and the other one didn't know how to read music and was teaching himself to sing in tune using a guitar tuner. So our cumulative singing skills were maybe a 3 out of 10, but boy were we enthusiastic. We just sang one of the common ordinaries, and since the Kyrie seemed particularly challenging the priest actually ran up the long flight of stone steps to the choir loft, gasped out the Kyrie with us to support us, and ran back down again to continue the Mass. I no longer remember why he did that - he could have just sung from the altar, surely. In any case, at the end of a very awkward clamber through the long-suffering ordinary we stumbled down the stairs and out into the sacristy. The priest gave us a baleful stare and said "That was just terrible!!" (which would be normal coming from any American, but that kind of blunt criticism is really unusual in Brazil). The German just sat with his head in his hands, grieving for the shame of it all. I do give kudos to the priest for continuing to support the group (which still sings years later, having expanded their minimalist repertory and now singing in tune and together.). I still drop by to sing with them once in a while.
  • Carol
    Posts: 669
    I'll beg, Pleeeeeze, Incardination, pleeeeeze!
    Thanked by 2CatherineS Elmar
  • One Sunday during the anthem I turned a certain page whose staple had come loose. It ripped off and went wafting over the gallery rail, falling like a leaf down into the nave. Fortunately I had the work memorised so there was no disaster, only amusement (some of the choir managed a discreet smirk or a muffled chuckle as the anthem came to an end). When the anthem was over a kind lady from the congregation brought the page up to me. (More amusement.)
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,289
    I once launched a hymnal (by accident of course) off of the gallery rail, and it hit the floor flat with a SMACK. Good thing it missed the congregant. People turned around and couldn't figure out what happened. I, logically, turned away and pretended to be studying music. :<>
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,659
    Actually, Incardination has mentioned it on here before. Just search for "Appreciation for Richard Chonak" and look up that discussion.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • tandrews
    Posts: 96
    There are rumors that ND liturgical choir members rang the Easter bells so vigorously in the choir loft on Easter that some of the clappers flew off and hit people in the pews below.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,289

    Guess they would be considered hells bells at that point?
    Thanked by 1tandrews