Becky Says...

August 2002

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August 6

I was reminded of this story this afternoon by a comment from someone on a message board about tones and pitches in music.

One of the chosen brothers in my life builds and tunes pipe organs. He's also a very gifted organist, but that's for another day. I came to know him through church music circles years ago, and once in a rare while, I have been privileged to help him when his regular assistant was not available.

During an organ tuning, the assistant's job is to hold keys. No, not a wad of keys to various churches and auditoriums. The keys in this case are organ keys, and holding them is holding them down so they're playing. Depending on the organ's setup, it is often the case that the tuner and the keyholder are out of each other's sight lines. This has been the case those times when I was helping my friend. Communication during a tuning session often resembles talking to oneself.

Once when I was holding keys for the tuner in one of the local churches, a couple of people came into the main part of the church to take pictures. I knew the two, and when they greeted me, I opened my mouth to respond. The tuner hadn't seen them enter---he was up in the loft of an arch formed by the building's gothic architecture, with the pipes. A cloth covering hid the pipes, and him, from view. I was on the organ bench, below and the other side of the arch from him. But he had heard the greeting, and thought I was trying to catch his attention. So the next sound heard, from up in the loft, was a distinctly male voice, with a lovely Southern accent, asking, "What?"

My first impulse (which I followed) was to look up toward the loft and reply, "They're talking to me." I then turned to the visitors and greeted them.

I wish I could have reached the camera to capture the stunned expressions on their faces. I think they weren't quite sure that God Himself hadn't asked a cryptic question, and been given a smart answer in return.

I did explain to them what they had come in on. Even with that, it took them a few minutes to come back to reality.

Text copyright 2000-2002 Becky