Remember when KH's had a piano and real singing?

by WingCommander 85 Replies latest jw friends

  • garybuss

    I had an extremely frantic 1950's Witness childhood. We lived in a tarpaper shack without running water and for a time, without electricity. The blessed people lived alone because there was only one Sears and one Wards catalog per family and people with large families ran out of catalog pages fast. Index pages were coveted.
    A big benefit to going to the Hall was the rolled toilet paper. It was stiff, but better than newspaper and catalog white pages. I remember when my dad got a raise we could afford rolled paper like the rich people but the catalog stayed on the out house for backup and for company.
    The Kingdom Hall was flat roofed and HOT in the summer and they opened all the doors for every meeting and we all brought Japanese fans printed with flowers . . . even the men. It got so bad the Witness people took up a collection and bought one fan. The fan was so loud they had to turn up the sound speakers and then the neighbors started complaining about the noise.
    They finally bought a water cooler. It was just an "A" coil like a modern air conditioner coil and mounted it in the furnace duct. They'd just run a garden hose from the water tap into the coil and run the furnace fan. One servant would come down a few hours before the meeting and start it up and it worked really good. That was our first Hall air conditioner. The water would just come out of the return side of the coil and they'd run it out to the front lawn and water the grass. It worked good.
    Our piano was an upright and it had a lot of ivory busted from the keys but since the player was playing without a middle finger it was hard to tell if it was in tune or not. The song she could play and almost sound good was "Rejoice!", so that one got played a lot. I'd sit in class at school with that song repeating in my head. I heard they took that song out of the new song books, but it's in the old green books.
    The piano player had a daughter and she was really good lookin and she didn't like the meetings so she'd sit in their car and listen to the radio. She was older than me and I lusted for her no doubt, so one day I snuck down by the car she was sitting in to hear what she was listening to on the radio thinking I'd hear Ricky Nelson or Pat Boone and she had a ball game on. I did a squat duck walk a half block to hear a ball game. When I got back to where I could stand up, my fingernail clipper was gone.

  • Mysterious

    When I left 2.5 years ago they still had a real piano here. When that sister was sick though it was the awful taped version. I think she was the only one whose meeting absenses were noted by the entire congregation haha.

  • serendipity

    The KH I attended in Houston in the mid 80's had a couple sisters who played the piano. One was a red-head with quite the sashay. She attracted a lot of attention as she walked down the aisle to play, her red curls bobbing, among other things. Her playing was also in demand for witness weddings or other get togethers as well.

  • Undecided

    I remember it well. My grandmother played an old pump organ. When she died my aunt played a piano, those were the good old days when we met in an upstairs room in an old house in the country.

    Ken P.

  • mama1119

    I loved hearing the piano when we first started going to meetings. 'These pianists are blessed' I thought. An elder's wife played the piano for every song for years. When the society came out with the taped music, he had a fit because his wife could no longer play the kingdom songs. It was a congregration issue for a long time. And yet when the circuit overseer came through the area, he would sit down and play kingdon songs, along with other tunes, before, after, and on Saturdays and Sundays at the kingdom hall. People, including myself, loved it!!

    He is now a writer at Bethel!

    Go figure?!

  • TMS

    As PaNiCAtTaCk related the granting or retracting of the piano-playing privilege was a source of contention in congregations over and above M.S. or elder appointments.

    Old Sister McKinney in the black congregation in Little Rock never forgave the young upstart elder from New York who took away her piano privileges for an "unsubmissive attitude". She used a slang, derogatory name to refer to Bro. Perkins. Sister McKinney had been the "Company Servant" in the Little Rock East Congregation in the 40's before qualified brothers became available.

    Sister Hilliard in North Little Rock never got over having her piano privileges revoked when her and her elder husband separated "unscripturally" never to divorce or remarry.

    The record/cassette/CD playing was certainly less spontaneous, but the regulating of piano-playing privileges in many congregations was a real pain in the proverbial ass. Balancing piano skill, nepotism, "spirituality", congregation politics, etc. was an impossible task.


  • nowisee

    well i used to play the organ at kh. and i was NOT a little old sister at the time. just the daughter of an elder who had aspirations for my talent. hah. i played at every meeting for at least 5-7 yrs. one sunday in the 70's (after my father had fallen from favor) it was announced that the congregation would sing song # whatever. i was surprised since it had always been decided ahead of time which song would be sung. so there i was walking to the organ to play when the recorded music came on -- i was totally bewildered and walked back to my seat. that's how it was from then on. always vinyl music. but no one ever spoke to me about the change. no one had the courtesy to inform me. it just happened. and my music days at kh were over just like that.

  • Thirdson

    I'm old enough to remember (just) the green songbook. Back in the olden days (as my son says - the 60s) we had a piano and it was played by one of two "anointed" sisters. There was always a small orchestra at the assemblies too. Uniformity and conformity forced most congregations to get rid of their pianos and live music.

    Congregations were first provided with gramophone records, then cassette tapes. Weddings with recorded music were terrible, including my first. After the bride had made her entrance there was that screech as the needle was lifted abruptly. Later this would be the thunk of the stop button being pressed mid-song on a tape-recording. (After 1984 only WTS music was to be played in the KH for weddings).

    After being raised as a JW and having endured canned music during worship all my life I found church music to be a wonderful experience. I have attended churches where the music was so important is was almost idolatry but, the music, the choir and the musicians were incredible. When Mrs Thirdson and I were married, a friend, who is a church musician/choir director, played at our wedding. There was no needle screeching at the end of the procession!


    PS Farkel should relate his experience as a teen KH piano player extraordinaire


    Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!... Canned Music????...No way!!..Thats just sorry!..Is there no Soul left in this religion???..None at all???...OUTLAW

  • freedom96

    There was a friend of mine that was an excellent pianist, who would play at the meetings. He started to jazz the songs up, to the point where everyone was excited, and singing, and having a good time. But he got counciled big time for bringing attention to himself, and he quit playing. Later, an older lady in the hall would play. I would always look forward to when she was bring a little more to the song, but ultimately, that was stopped, and then soon after, the dumb records came around.

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