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53 Judy Siebold, who plays at Grace Methodist Church, has been an organist for 57 years. “I’ll do it until they tell me, ‘Judy, I think you had better leave the organ bench now.’ I’ll keep playing until they take me down,” she says. Her favorite piece of seasonal music is “Prepare the Royal Highway,” an Advent hymn that looks forward to the coming of Christ. quite good. With the mixture here you can’t tell. They have different timbres in them. This organ also will play hymns in different keys for me. I can shut off the pipes and just play the digital part of the organ. There are lots of good things here.” Siebold is surrounded by a complicated array featuring dozens of stops, keys, pedals, and other buttons. What was Bach thinking when he said there’s nothing to playing this thing? “It’s a good quote,” Siebold says. “It doesn’t play itself, does it?” It takes time to learn how to play the organ, and to play it well. Siebold has been playing for 57 years. Charles Woodward, the organist at the Temple of Israel and former organist at First Presbyterian, has been playing for more than 60. “I’ll play until I drop over dead, or until I can’t do it anymore,” says Woodward, who is 80. “There comes a time when you realize that you really can-not do it up to par. Then it’s time to stop.” Motivation, passion and starting at a young age combine to produce the longevity. Many organ-ists have a similar story of falling in love with the instrument when they were children. “I grew up in a small town,” Tabler says. “We went from attending a small country church and started attending church in town. The first time I heard that organ I thought, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It trans-formed worship in a way I had never experienced as a child growing up in this little country church that had nothing but a piano. I was just in awe of the sound. I had heard recordings of the organ, and thought, that’s an incredible sound. Then when you experience it, and you feel it under your feet? It speaks to a particular kind of person. When they feel and they hear that they think, how glorious would it be to be able to make that sound yourself, to be behind all that power and that sound.” Smith tells virtually the same tale. “I knew I wanted to be a church organist when I was 4 years old,” he says. “I heard it in church and said, ‘Oh, I want to do this. This sounds amazing.’ I was very fascinated. I always sat right in front of it, and watched the pedals, even get-ting in the way sometimes. Eventually they fig-ured out I was very serious about the instrument www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com WBM and let me play it.”


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