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The Bass Coupler

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The Bass Coupler

Author Marilyn Nielson

Being called to play the organ for the first time, as a pianist, felt like being asked to ice skate for the U.S. Olympic team because you did such a good job walking into the arena. "You already know how to walk, after all," the coaches reason. "This is basically the same thing—a stride lengthened here, a leg elevated there. You'll pick it up in no time."

It was terrifying. But, as I would probably do if asked to join the Olympic team, I suited up. I bought a big spiral-bound hymnbook, took a deep breath, and prepared myself for a lot of bruises. I suppose I had always known this day would come. Not the way you know you want to learn Greek someday, or the way you know you've aced the interview and the scholarship is yours. More the way you know the dog on the corner is someday going to do more than just stand by the fence, growling. It was almost a relief when it finally happened and I could start dealing in realities.

The first reality I encountered was that a piano is not an organ.

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