How playing a church organ is like driving a Mack truck

There’s always a part of me that wants to be a truck driver.  I love the open road.  Put all the windows down, let my hair fly wild and have the radio full blast.  Driving! That feels like freedom to me.  I have a few Facebook trucker friends.  It is fascinating to read how many miles they’ve traveled, what kind of loads they are hauling, crazy happenings on the road, and interesting bits of news and weather from far-away cities that only a trucker could witness.

My brother has a few Mack trucks “just for fun”.  He uses them in his work as a dairy farm owner and hauls loads for others, yet he tells me they are mainly his hobby. He buys older models, fixes them up and paints them.

Fred and my son with one of the Mack trucks.  Photo credit:  Brenda Hoffman Photography

My brother and my son with one of the Mack trucks. Photo credit: Brenda Hoffman Photography

When I was a girl, it was it was a delight to ride with my Grandpa Balkema in his dump truck to deliver loads of gravel.  He also let me ride in the loader with him when he was loading up the truck.  I rode with my dad on the tractors, slowly going down row after row when he was working in the fields.  There was the day I rode with a friend in a semi truck to deliver flowers to Chicago and marvelled at the skill needed to drive in heavy traffic and back up into narrow spaces.  I rode with my brother in his Macks, just for fun.  Maybe it’s in my blood.  Several women in my family have been bus drivers, and also enjoy driving trucks or tractors. In relocating there have been opportunities to drive decent sized moving trucks–my favorite part of moving!!! Confession:, I’m a bit scared to drive them.  Not so much drive, as to back up or turn around.)  When I am driving a truck my theme song is “Give me forty acres and I’ll turn this rig around.”  And who doesn’t love a good ol’ trucker song!?  “On the Road again….”, “Roll on 18 Wheeler” or “Little Pink Mack.”

I took organ lessons on a wonderful pipe organ, and have played on several electronic organs.  My youngest sister is now taking organ lessons and we’ve been discussing the process of learning to play.  It occurred to me that playing a good pipe organ is like the feeling of driving a big rig.  Talk about POWER!  If you’ve ever sat in the driver’s seat of a big truck, or on the bench of a pipe organ and felt that deep low growl, you know what I mean.

These are the ways playing a pipe organ remind me of driving a Mack truck:

  • The impressive instrument panel.
  • You can put the pedal to the metal—but do so gradually for the best effect.
  • Smoke stacks or pipes – take your pick!
  • You make adjustments based on the load you are carrying or the number of people singing.
  • Often you are seated up and above everyone else.  Great views!
  • Both have horns that blast! (The organ stop is often labeled “trompette.”)
  • They are both majestic. It feels both humbling and exciting to sit on the bench or drivers seat.

Yours truly, playing a small church organ 18 years ago.

How about you?  Do you like to drive?  What’s the biggest vehicle you have ever driven? Have you ever played a pipe organ and know the feeling I’m talking about?


4 thoughts on “How playing a church organ is like driving a Mack truck

  1. Doesn’t seem possible it was 18 years ago — but it was! Man time flies. Come on down to Memphis if you want to play again…we could use you! 🙂


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