The worst mistake anyone can make is being too afraid to make one.
In the world of the performing arts, the person who doesn't make mistakes is unlikely to make anything.
It also means they're not working on hard enough problems, and that's a big mistake [See blog, A Smooth Sea].
We need to imagine issuing ourselves a permission card which acknowledges an organist's citizenship in the land of humanity and reminds us to tell ourselves, "I fall, I rise, I make mistakes, I live, I learn, I've been hurt, but I'm alive, I'm human and I'm not perfect, but I'm thankful, and I'm not going to beat myself up for being human."
When you're playing the organ for a worship service, ceremony, or fraternal meeting, here's how you can make lots and lots of mistakes:
1. Leave everything to chance.
2. Be afraid of making a mistake.
3. Be too sensitive about what other people say to you about your playing.
4. Dwell on your playing errors as you make them, and let them distract you.
5. Play something that's too difficult for your current standard because you're embarrassed about repeating an easier piece you played earlier.
6. Let the congregation lead the singing.
7. Be intimidated by people who tell you they'd be doing the organist's job but they don't have the time to practice.
There are many ways that mistakes like these can undermine your confidence, and there are plenty of people around who don't mind pointing out how wonderful the organist is, who plays for the other organizations or for the worship center down the road.
Be persistently deaf to this (photo).
And don't give up.