47 years at the console; United Methodist Church celebrates Shirley Brand
Shirley Brand enjoys music and has always loved to play the keyboards. She has played the keyboards — piano, organ and clavinova — 47 years at the Springfield United Methodist Church. The church community will celebrate Brand’s near half-century of service on Sunday, October 23.
Shirley began taking piano lessons at the age of 9. She took lessons for five to six years from Marie Birkemeyer, and for a brief time from the music teacher at Springfield High School. She was piano accompanist to the Springfield High School Choir.
Shirley took her place on the console at the Methodist Church as a high school senior. She learned to play the electric organ and, later, the pipe organ. A friend gave her some tips about the pipe organ, but otherwise she taught herself with practice, practice and more practice. In recent years, the church purchased a clavinova, and Shirley purchased one for her home, too. At church, she moved often from the clavinova to the organ, depending upon the music.
Shirley was church organist for many years without a substitute. “I played just about every Sunday,” she said. For a time, the church had several musicians and they took their turns at the console about once a month. In recent years, when introducing contemporary music into the service, recorded music is often used.
She played for many weddings and funerals.
Being church organist, Shirley said, is “Lots of work and requires lots of practice.” The times she loved most were holidays — Christmas and Easter. “I love Christmas music,” she said.
Shirley’s been church organist for so long that the console has become a very comfortable place. “I’m so used to that perspective — sitting up front in church with a good view of the people,” said Shirley. “It’s hard to sit in the audience now.”
Now when she sits at her keyboard, she plays for own enjoyment and relaxation in her home. “I play a lot of Lorie Line music,” she said, and religious music, of course. “Now, I don’t have to practice.”