Sometimes, all roads lead to Rome. For me, all roads led to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Many years ago, I was the editor of a journal for the International Association of Organ Teachers. IAOT was having their annual convention in Valley Forge in tandem with a Home Organists Adventure, produced by Bill Worrall. A month or so before the convention, organ artist Bill Irwin saw a book I had recently written (All About Registration), and was great encouragement to me. He suggested that upon my arrival at the event, I should introduce myself to Bill Worrall, and offer to conduct a workshop if needed. So, I did. I knew I was prepared. In addition to writing the book, I had recently conducted several similar workshops in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, where I lived and worked at the time. Two days later, I received a very early call from Bill Worrall, asking me if I would be able to lead a workshop later that morning. The person originally scheduled to appear was unable to make her flight. I’m not a morning person, and was amazed that the voice that said “Certainly!” sounded eager and awake, even in its pre-coffee state.
I walked into a large convention room filled with the fans of the person who wasn’t there. Awkward! I introduced myself, explained the situation, and launched into the workshop based on my recently published book. Thankfully, I had several copies of the book with me (ready to be submitted to the IOAT book review committee) to use for illustration and prompts. I was off and running.
Bill sat in the back row, listening and evaluating. Remember, Bill and I had never met before this convention. All of this was happening because of a verbal referral from a mutual colleague and friend. A few minutes into the workshop, I saw Bill slip out. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a good sign….or not…but I kept going. Bill soon returned with one of the organ industry’s brightest stars. They sat down together and listened. Bill left again, and soon returned with another performing artist.
One by one, that back row began to fill with artists I admired but had never met. That, indeed, was my Ring of Fire.
At the end of my presentation, I received a standing ovation, not only from the convention attendees, but from these well-known greats of the organ industry. I was humbled and amazed. I ended up selling the books I had brought as review copies, and took orders for many more. From that moment on, my career began to move in a very different direction.