The Best Laid Plans


It’s been a bit since I wrote here. In fact, from what I can see of my publication dates, it has been almost a month. A lot has happened in that time. Here’s a quick run-down:

  • Thanksgiving 2018. I had actually scheduled a post for this day, but I never finished editing it for publication. The gist of it was this:

I am thankful for my loving family and friends, for the actors and musicians I’ve worked with over the last year, and for the incredibly fortunate life I have to to be able to do this and to pursue it.

  • Church Organ at Advent Lutheran Church. This has been a big focus of my life in recent weeks. As I begin working regularly, I’m having to spend more time developing skills and picking up repertoire for Preludes, Postludes, and Offertories. This was quite a challenge at first, but I’m finding that my pace has increased as I’ve gotten familiar with the instrument.

  • Application to Arizona State University. I submitted my application on the afternoon of November 30, just before the December 1 deadline. I am still waiting to hear back. One of my references sent me a copy of her recommendation letter and I was really honored by the glowing terms she used to describe my work.

  • Magnolia West Choir Concert. This past Thursday was our annual “Merry Mustang Show and Auction” at MWHS. This concert is a huge undertaking, as it is one of our main fundraisers for the year. In addition to the longest concert of our year (about an hour and a half), we present a silent auction of gift baskets made by our students (and constructed by the head director), and a live auction of decorated Christmas trees by parents. All of this money goes toward student scholarships. It’s a genius idea, and I’m always excited to see how it goes. This year was quite stressful, as we seemed to be a little behind the curve on things. The two days leading up to the concert I didn’t even have time to stop for lunch between paperwork and rehearsals.

  • Pride and Prejudice at Fourth Wall Theatre Company. I returned to my favorite local professional company to see “Pride and Prejudice” in an adaptation by Kate Hamill. I still haven’t read the book so I can’t comment on comparisons, but my two companions were intimately familiar with it and seemed to have a good time. It took some liberties with the plot in the interest of time and comedy but it was, as always, well-acted and exciting.

  • Application to Shenandoah Conservatory. Last night, a friend helped me re-record the interview portion of my application to SU. I’m hoping to edit that together with video of myself leading rehearsals so that I can submit in the next few days. I know it’s well ahead of their January deadline, but I’d rather be done with it so I can enjoy my holidays.

Upcoming events are of course Christmas 2018 and New Year 2018-2019. I have Christmas eve services at the church that I will put on the calendar as soon as I have sorted out the repertoire. I need to make a Christmas list to send to family this weekend. I need to start making plans for the new year.

Oh and I need to continue to post here regularly…

The King of Instruments

Next week, I will play my last service as a substitute organist at Beautiful Savior/Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. For almost exactly two years, it has been a privilege to help lead worship.

Tonight I played my first service as resident organist at Advent Lutheran Church, where I will play regularly until at least April of next year. Due to a scheduling change, I stepped in on short notice for the Thanksgiving evening service.

For some readers, this may come as a bit of a surprise. I talk a lot about musicals and choral music here, and playing piano. But organ is not a regular topic. So here’s some backstory.

First Interest

My most adventurous year of college (academically) was 2012, spring of my sophomore year and fall of junior. That was the year I joined a few new choirs, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity, and explored the idea of organ lessons.

My first semester of organ was actually spring of 2013, with Dr. Joyce Jones. Dr. Jones was the retiring professor of organ at Baylor, after about 40 years there. I was incredibly lucky to work with her for a semester, and I learned a ton. I spent more time practicing the organ than any other instrument for that semester, and I was able to play a Bach prelude and fugue (my first!), and a great chorale prelude by Pachelbel.

That fall, after Dr. Jones retired, I returned to organ lessons with Dr. Isabelle Demers. We focused more on manual technique, and I played some more colorful pieces under her instruction, including my own transcription of the overture from The Phantom of the Opera in full costume for the Baylor Organ Studio Halloween Concert.

I took a break from the organ after that. My course requirements were heavier, and I didn’t feel like I had the time to focus on it. Besides, it wasn’t something I would have much opportunity to do.


Jump forward to spring of 2015 as I was finishing out the year at Pasadena High School, and looking for my next step. Through a family friend, I found out that Judy Kutach, at Living Savior Lutheran Church in Montgomery, TX needed a substitute for a service over the summer. We met up, and I became a regular substitute for her (a few times per year).

The following spring, she recommended me to Lee Roeder, who played at Beautiful Savior/Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, who asked me to come in and substitute for her. She has employed me about once per month on average since then, sometimes on consecutive weeks.

I’ve also substituted for Dave Englert, who is organist at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Spring. Dave has also become a source of knowledge for me, and I hope to take some lessons with him in the spring of 2019.


Things really started stepping up during the summer of this year. On the recommendation of a friend, I went into an interview to take over organ duties at The Woodlands United Methodist Church, which is a major church in my neighborhood. However, I cordially withdrew after discovering it was a full-time position. As exciting as that opportunity would be, I couldn’t make that change in direction.

In the fall, Lee approached me about taking over for her, as she is preparing to retire. Since this is a smaller church, I was excited for the opportunity. The church was willing to keep considering me, even though I may move for grad school. But they moved slowly with the interview/review process.

Out of the blue, Scott McAdow at Advent Lutheran sent me an e-mail. He heard me accompany band students at their UIL Solo & Ensemble competition back in February. He approached me about taking over for their organist, mostly because he knew my piano skills. He actually didn’t know any of my organ background.

I met with Scott and played some of my typical substitute pieces, plus showing that my piano skills are as good or better than what he remembered me. (Actually, my audition for him was the same day as my first rehearsal for the production of [Title of Show] that I wrote about recently.)

He moved more quickly than Beautiful Savior/Our Redeemer and offered me the position pretty much on the spot. After conferring with Lee, I withdrew from consideration for her position and have already begun duties at ALC.

This week, at Dave Englert’s advice, I joined the American Guild of Organists, and I have watched many of their “Lessons for the New Organist” YouTube series. I’ve been reading through back editions of The American Organist, their monthly magazine. Dave has advised me to look at some of their certifications, as it will build my skills. I think it will also be useful to lend me some legitimacy, in the event that I am looking for an organ position while in grad school.

I will spend some of my thanksgiving break working on building up my weaker skills (pedals) and I will start lessons with Dave in the spring. I’m excited to take on this new challenge!