Tribune Print Share Text

Making memories through music

Organists share pastime with friends old and new

Created date

May 21st, 2013

When he was a young boy, Jim Pickett played the piano casually but never really dedicated himself to it. Later in life, with a nudge from his wife Elsie, Jim got back into music. When we got married, Elsie ran across a small organ in a garage sale, and she asked me if I wanted to get back to playing, Jim recalls. It was a bargain, and I didn t know one chord from another at that time. Fast-forward several decades, and today Jim and Elsie are both avid organ players. In the late 1990s, the couple upgraded to their first new organ, and they are now on their third one. Over the years, they have both taken lessons at Schmitt Music Company. They have also been members of the Greater Kansas City Organ Club. It s a really nice hobby, Jim says.

Bonding over music

About 14 years ago, Jim and Elsie decided that they wanted to connect with other organ players, so they started an organ club. Jim says their organ club includes five or six families who get together to play music and socialize. We rotate and go to each other s houses once a month and take turns playing the organ, Jim says. Whoever is hosting that night will provide snacks and hors d oeuvres. It s a really fun group. Jim says he most enjoys playing popular music. Other members of his organ club prefer classical or western music. They all take turns playing and enjoying one another s performances.

Instantly among friends

Last July, the Picketts moved from Kansas City to Tallgrass Creek, an Erickson Living community in Overland Park, Kans., where they live in a McKinley-style apartment home. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom floor plan features a large living room, which gives the musical couple more than enough space to showcase an organ in their home. When the Picketts made the move to Tallgrass Creek, one thing they didn t have to worry about was being among strangers. Their long-time friend and fellow organ club member Margaret Harris had also decided to move to the community at exactly the same time. We ve been friends with Margaret [and her late husband] for years. It was through the organ club that we got acquainted with them, Jim says. We moved to Tallgrass Creek just a few days before Margaret. Of course, Jim, Elsie, and Margaret remain friends now that they are all members of the Tallgrass Creek community. Together, they ve had the opportunity to become acquainted with hundreds of other active and like-minded retirees who also call Tallgrass Creek home. Playing the organ remains a favorite pastime for the Picketts and for Margaret. In addition to their scheduled organ club meetings, the musical trio can tickle the ivories whenever the mood strikes them because there is an organ in Tallgrass Creek s clubhouse, where residents often gather before and after dinner and throughout the day between club meetings and social activities. We ve played on it a few times, and it s a very nice organ, Jim says of Tallgrass Creek s communal organ. It s very similar to the one we have in our home.