Sunday Morning Choir Director Anxiety Dreams
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,972
    I suppose every DM has had a weird dream or two, just before (or just after) the alarm rings on Sunday morning.

    Last Sunday morning, even though I haven't directed a choir in months, I had a dream that involved a contemporary choir that took such a horizontalist view of liturgy that they started bringing personal property up to the choir loft, including, if I remember correctly, farmyard animals and cars.

    This noon at a London fish and chips shop, I overheard two men talking about this and that. One is an organist for a Protestant church that has a projection screen. For every service he has a number of slides to project, one after the other, in order. The minister gives him the order of service and the organist makes the slides and shows them at the right time. But, sometimes the minister changes the order on the fly, without telling the organist. So the organist is "wrong," even though he is doing exactly what the minister asked.

    I've had some weird dreams, but never as weird as that poor organist's reality.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,510
    I have dreamed of being at the organ on Sunday morning, ready to begin the Entrance hymn. I guess it is my OCD showing, but I never begin playing. I adjust stop tabs, dust the music rack, rearrange papers, and etc. All this while the congregation and priest wait. I have awakened thinking I am really in the loft, a bit panicked that this is happening. What does it mean? Who knows?
    Thanked by 2Spriggo francis
  • I dreamed once that my enthusiatic choir, brass and tympani and me at the organ directing it all were in church on 'Easter' performing our glorious Easter music, but we realised after a bit that the church was empty... then we realised that we were there on the wrong day. So, we had to do it over 'for real' some days later when Easter actually arrived.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,556
    I was having dreams last week/early this week that I just missed Ash Wednesday. Just forgot about it, didn't show up, etc.

    Luckily I made it in for the 7am Mass this morning.
  • CharlesW, I have had the exact same dream before, as odd as it is. It's as if I am getting ready for Mass and taking my time, all the while knowing full well everyone is waiting on me...yet I don't even care, and I can't help but continue doing what I am doing, even though I try my hardest to get to the organ and play. I also have dreams that I start playing music I've never seen before, and have no idea how to play. I hate those.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • I frequently have had dreams in which before walking on stage to give a recital I glance at the printed program and realize the listed pieces are not the ones practiced. I’m told this dream is rather common.

    Nightmares about liturgical experiences, however, are rare because reality too often supplies the horror.
  • Spriggo
    Posts: 122
    I have a dream similar to CharlesW. Priest and ministers are in the back waiting for me to start the hymn, and the people are on their feet with their hymnals open - and I can't find the hymn. I frantically turn the pages of the hymnal, but it is nowhere to be found. At this point I usually wake up in a cold sweat.
    Thanked by 1EMH
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,648
    In real life I too (as a sub) was asked to use an overhead projector for hymns, one of which was laid out with a page turn. Some things are too ludicrous to work up much anxiety over and I never dream about church myself, though a friend relates taxi-ing down a runway behind the organ console, trying to find the steering wheel.

    My recurrent nightmare is one where I'm alone in the wings of a theatre in my street clothes with no idea what opera it is or what in role I have to make an entrance. With relief I recognize the music of Carmen, a piece I have never performed but which I can probably pull off, having learned it by heart as a 12-year old, and I begin looking for Zuniga's costume. An instant before I awake in a sweat, I realize the performers already onstage are singing a Russian translation...
    Thanked by 2tomboysuze Kathy
  • Oh, the nightmares - they start about 2 weeks before Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Easter and any other major feast. I laugh about them, but they really do drive me nuts. The most common is several variations on the theme of not being able to find my music - I open my book and it is either all gone, or something different that I have never seen before is there instead. Interspersed with that is the recurring nightmare that the choir loft stairs have folded in on themselves many times over and I have to squeeze myself through a maze to get to the loft - only to find that the organ/piano or whatever instrument I need is missing. I won't even go into the dreams where I am falling from the loft - yes, my nightmares keep me entertained. (Ha! - not)
  • Good heavens! Enough to put me off getting involved! When I'm stressed I go back 25 years to when i worked in a creche/nursery school, at going home time with parents arriving. It will be some variation on the theme of having lost the child, or forgotten to take them up from a nap and now they are crying, or so on.
  • I have dreams where I sit at the bench and look at the music and can't read the staff......or can't relate the staff to the manuals.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    I have dreams where I sit at the bench and look at the music and can't read the staff


    That happens to me in real life sometimes. Usually when I'm standing in front of a choir and need to name a note or refer to some basic music term.
    "There, the uh uh.... you know- get LOUDER here at the uh.... uh...."
    [think in head - "Every Good Boy Does"]
    "... the F#!"
    Thanked by 1Andrew Motyka
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,510
    Interesting that we all have the same fears and dreams. I know that I still get nervous before playing, more than 50 years after I first started.
    Thanked by 2R J Stove expeditus1
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    My usual:
    Huge amalgam church remniscent of current and past assignments.
    Get to church way in advance of Mass time, only to find church packed and mid-service.
    A senior choir, very large up in loft in shiny robes wailing, almost gnashing hymns.
    I run up, try to get organist to stop, it's like I'm not there at all, it all gets worse.
    Down in sanctuary there's a visiting Gospel choir singing Andrae Crouch at ffff, again I try to find out how they got there, who's in charge, can they stop it, to no avail.
    Congregation is full, mostly boomers and elderly, and they're all visibly disinterested or angry or bored.
    Celebrant is mid EP, surrounded by acolytes and deacons, but there's so much noise...but he doesn't seem bothered in the slightest.
    I, meanwhile am losing it big time, scampering from "fire" to "fire" trying to make sense and restore order.

    Then I wake up.
    Or was I asleep at home?
    Could it be? Like Burgess Meredith in Twilight Zone, I finally stepped on my own glasses and I'm, well, you know.
    Thanked by 1JulieColl
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,113
    I often dream that my alarm clock displays the time Mass is supposed to begin. It sure get's me to jump up out of bed before I wake up fully and realize Mass doesn't start for two hours.
    Thanked by 2R J Stove eft94530
  • All these sound remarkably similar to this:

    http://xkcd.com/557/

    A dream that I still have, sometimes with the Mass variation.
  • My anxiety dreams are rather more bizarre that the ones you guys have had. When I was teaching music in grade school (500 kids a week in 3 days) and directing on the weekend (only one mass, Thank God) - I dreampt I was in the choir loft getting things organized when suddenly I realized I was in a choir loft I didn't recognize. The choir showed up and they were wearing strange, old fashioned clothes and acting like children out of control in a classroom. I couldn't find my music and it was all disorganized and suddenly, Bill Clinton showed up and started making a very self-serving speech. I got disgusted and woke myself up.
    Thanked by 1ZacPB189
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,972
    I was the cantor, up in front by the altar. The choir and organ were in the choir loft. We had different lists of music for the Mass, and would be singing and playing different things entirely. I knew this beforehand, and the priests in the sacristy knew it, but there was nothing we could do.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,191
    I have two recurring dreams that seem to be common with other organists - the one where I'm flipping through pages of the hymnal and cannot find the page I need, and oversleeping a Mass.

    I think that they're based on fears rooted in reality. I recently had an experience where the new Pastor, despite being told that we don't (for reasons I won't try to explain here since I don't totally agree with them and don't want to create a rabbit hole) sing the responsorial psalm during the summer months. Having failed to understand his comments in the sacristy before Mass, and not being well-schooled in mind reading, I sat at the console preparing to play and chant the "Alleluia" and discovered that the lector had finished the first reading and was standing at the ambo waiting for me to chant the psalm. For what felt like hours, I frantically scrambled to pull out the necessary materials to chant the psalm and proceeded to sight-read it. It was embarrassing and I think there was a hint of passive-aggression on the part of the Pastor in the way it was handled.

    In the case of the second kind of nightmare, I suspect we've all overslept a Mass at least once in our career. Since we all take what we do seriously, such a mistake made once burns on the brain and I can't say I'm surprised that we occasionally revisit the experience and embarrassment in the form of a nightmare.
    Thanked by 3Spriggo Jani eft94530
  • pegwhit
    Posts: 19
    I was wondering if anyone would mind if I put some of their nightmares on my blog. My most recent post is going to be "The Music Director's Nightmare" or something similar to that. It's a work in progress and some of these would fit nicely. Nobody really reads my blog anyway. It's just a good outlet for me.

    Now as far as my nightmare goes. I had one recently where I was having someone else play while I cantored and she couldn't find the music. I kept telling her that it was on the music rack already, but she wouldn't believe me. Everyone was waiting for us to start but she kept on insisting she didn't have the music.

    I've also had the dream where I was late and I kept on running into these situations where I couldn't get to church. I live less than five minutes away, but I just couldn't get out of the house for some reason.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    I had one recently where I was having someone else play while I cantored and she couldn't find the music. I kept telling her that it was on the music rack already, but she wouldn't believe me. Everyone was waiting for us to start but she kept on insisting she didn't have the music.


    That sounds an awful lot like my real life some days.
    Thanked by 1Ally
  • pegwhit
    Posts: 19
    One of my cantors started making up words one time, because he forgot his music. I thought I was going to bust out laughing. This cantor also happens to be our youth minister, so he is a paid employee. Needless to say our boss never let him here the end of it. To this day we still tease him about that incident.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,556
    I overslept once........

    EASTER SUNDAY MORNING.

    Ran into the Church 1 minute before Mass.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,113
    NICE ONE, Matthew.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,113
    So much for that amazing easter prelude you had planned.
  • Jani
    Posts: 386
    David Andrew described precisely my nightmare...frantically searching through messy stacks of papers until Mass is over or the like. Quite the opposite is my "normal" reality, which sees me check and double check that everything is in order and making lists for the "big" Masses so I don't have problems the day of. However...during the final Mass of this year's Colloquium I lost track of all my music no less than three times! My dream come true, so to speak. :-/
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    Not my own nightmare, but twice when I was directing in a 'regular' parish, our organist forgot to 'spring ahead', and thus sauntered in at about the Gospel Acclamation, thinking that he was a few minutes early. So we sang the Entrance Hymn, the Gloria, and the Responsorial Psalm a capella (which actually turned out quite well).

    If I have a nightmare, it usually involves missing an interval when singing an antiphon, and singing the rest of the Proper with the intervals in the wrong place (which has happened on a number of occasions).
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,435
    I overslept once........
    EASTER SUNDAY MORNING.
    Ran into the Church 1 minute before Mass.


    Resurrexit!
  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 853
    If I have a nightmare, it usually involves missing an interval when singing an antiphon, and singing the rest of the Proper with the intervals in the wrong place (which has happened on a number of occasions).


    If you sing the Gregorian Propers solo enough, this is bound to happen to you. I've actually gotten "better at messing this up," so to speak, where I have enough confidence in myself to realize what note of the scale I'm incorrectly on and adjust from there.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I just had a nightmare last night in which I was at my last Catholic church. The priest (a solid guy, though often willing to make concessions to the congregation) insisted I conduct the choir in hits from Phantom of the Opera while he celebrated the EF Low Mass, facing the congregation, wearing a mask that looked like a deer's head.

    What was in that beer....?
    Thanked by 2Kathy CharlesW
  • pegwhit
    Posts: 19
    I had a nightmare once that my organ blew up during Holy Week. Oh... Wait that actually happened. BTW Ben Yanke are you from Sauk? I keep seeing posts by you on my friends FB wall. Wondering if it's the same Ben.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,113
    Gavin, now that's funny. Of course in the dream, you probably thought nothing of it, right?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,281
    I just had a nightmare last night in which I was at my last Catholic church. The priest (a solid guy, though often willing to make concessions to the congregation) insisted I conduct the choir in hits from Phantom of the Opera while he celebrated the EF Low Mass, facing the congregation, wearing a mask that looked like a deer's head.


    Another "dream" that, LITERALLY, happens to me in real life at least once a month.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,191
    Gavin, I just completely recontextualuzed my entire impression and comprehension of who you are. Come to GR sometime soon and let's do a crawl of ALL of the amazing independent brew pubs, after which we can spend a long evening singing Gregorian hymns in the tombs of the local constabulary.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • Protasius
    Posts: 468
    I am SO glad I never remember my dreams.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,510
    Am I the only one who has dreamed that I played, and the choir sang an entire mass on Sunday morning with everyone naked? I don't even want to know what that one means. LOL.
  • The little known MISSA NUDA.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,972
    MISSA DISAROBEDA
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,510
    At our ages, it would be Missa Laughriota.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,972
    Missa wardrobemalfunctionata.

    Um, no.
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,222
    Dream this morning, after choir rehearsal previous evening where we were rehearsing Kyrie Cunctipotens genitor Deus (Trent Codex 90):

    I had warned the choir to be there on time for warm-up/run-through before Sunday Mass - On Sunday morning I was way-layed for 15 minutes by old church ladies in the vestibule, which only left 5 minutes to run-through this Kyrie, all of the propers and the Motet.

    I ran down to where the piano is, only to discover that that part of the undercroft was blocked off for some reason. I frantically asked various people where my choir had gone to and they sent me off to one of the class-rooms. I walked in and there were 15 random people from other parts of my life, none of whom are musicians, who were standing there with their music talking to each other.

    I tried to get them to do something, but nothing happened they just kept talking, I began loosing my cool and started shouting when one of the women came over and started to get a little too friendly. It was then that I discovered that apart from my overcoat I was in my "birthday suit". I flipped three tables in one motion and ran out of the room screaming, meanwhile everyone else kept talking to each other like nothing happened.

    Then, thankfully, I woke up in a cold sweat.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,556
    I kept having dreams the other day that the Spanish organist didn't show up to play the Thursday Spanish Funeral and I had to walk in late and just improvise on Pan de Vida for the rest of the Mass. I would wake up, see it was a dream, and then go back to sleep and experience it again and again.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Which "Pan de Vida?" ;-)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,510
    I have had a repeating dream of sitting at the console to begin the entrance hymn - it is "Holy, Holy, Holy" btw. There is dust on the music rack. I dust the rack. A page is out of order so I rearrange my pages. Then I see a spot on one of the keys which must, of course, be cleaned immediately. This goes on for some time and the entrance hymn never starts. What any of this means is anyone's guess.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,890
    My major one is oversleeping a Mass. Not being there when I should have been with no excuse is one of my biggest fears. The there's the one where we rehearse like mad for some big choir piece and then nobody shows up... Wait, that really happened.
    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • G
    Posts: 1,383
    Then I see a spot on one of the keys which must, of course, be cleaned immediately. This goes on for some time and the entrance hymn never starts. What any of this means is anyone's guess.
    That life is too short to waste any of it on housekeeping or cleaning.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Mary Ann
    Posts: 49
    I'm 74 & have been a church organist for 50-plus of those years. As a 20-something raising a family & able to only help with the music part time I experienced the following: A parish priest's housekeeper fancied herself an organist & even though she couldn't play or accompany singing for sour apples, she basically took over the Sunday music when they first arrived. It was so horrendous I had worked myself up into quite a state, reaching a point where I considered testing an interesting (to me) hypothesis (can a person survive a fall from the choir loft & live?). An accidental fall, of course. I was extremely frustrated, felt totally intimidated by her (she was 60-ish), plus I knew I'd not have backing from the priest, should I go to him about her.

    So....my subconscious took over after about two months of this severe musical abuse. To wit: I dreamt I arrived late to Sunday Mass during the Processional hymn (which sounded like something rising from the gates of you-know-where). I strode up the steps, into the church, down the main aisle to the Communion rail, stopped, turned around, pointed my finger at the organist & shouted, "STOP!!!" Everything went quiet. I shouted again, "For the love of God and the preservation of our ears get away from that organ and never plant yourself on our organ bench again as long as you are here! God & His people deserve better than what we are hearing!" Our church was small so there was no difficulty hearing me. Then everyone started to clap!! I turned around, said, "Thank you, Father," started back down the aisle and proceeded to wake up with a smile on my face. Well, that was all it took. From that dream on I had no trouble putting up with her ineptitude. My anger had disappeared. Even though where I confronted her was only a dream, it was good enough for me. My sanity was saved. And let us remember our wonderful history of divine intervention through dreams!
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,526
    Too bad that the change to Daylight Time no longer occurs on the first Sunday of April. Only thing better than seeing a chunk of a congregation show up an hour late for Easter or Palm Sunday is seeing musicians show up an hour late.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,972
    I dreamed that at my old parish they needed me to sub for Christmas eve Mass, and they had new plastic numbers for the hymnal board, and since it was Christmas, we needed a lot of 4s, and I spent so much time trying to get the 4s out of their packaging, with the vicar's help, that by the time I gave up on the hymn boards and decided just to announce the hymns, the Mass had already begun.

    So I went to where the choir was, near the pastor, who now had gray hair. The Worship hymnals had been replaced by boxes of beef broth. So I took two and sat down on a bench to see what would happen next.
  • The Worship hymnals had been replaced by boxes of beef broth.

    Prophecy! ... effundam Spiritum meum super omnem carnem ; prophetabunt filiae vestrae, et somnia somniabunt et visiones videbunt.
  • Protasius
    Posts: 468
    A few weeks ago I woke up at 4am in the night after I dreamt I had not two but three almost simultaneous Masses on the upcoming Sunday (for one of which I had found someone to substitute for me). I immediately checked my calendar to be sure that it was just a nightmare (which it fortunately was).