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Thread: Long-Time Pianist, Newbie Organist

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    Seaman, Mezzoforte UCG Musician's Avatar
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    Long-Time Pianist, Newbie Organist

    I have had three organ lessons so far (using the Gleason method) and am frustrated that my fingers will NOT do what they're supposed to. I'm on the early exercises and having trouble getting legato with some digits and half-value notes with others. How is this supposed to work? I spent nearly 1-1/2 hours trying to get my fingers to do what my brain clearly saw. I keep lifting the wrong fingers especially when both hands are put together.

    Is this normal and to be expected? Does a mental block like this typically pass (and if so how quickly) or will I likely have trouble for quite awhile? I have no delusions about becoming a really good organist but I'd like to get reasonably proficient.

    UCG Musician

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    DO not give up.. this is one problrm all of us who studied piano first have had to learn,,it will come.. and not in a few hours. soon it will be automatic. Hnag in there.
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
    - Jean Langlais

    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

    Bill

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    Rear Admiral Appassionata (Ret) Ghekorg7 (Ret)'s Avatar
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    Yeah, same here too Bill.

    From piano to organ (with ped) is a hard transistion but with lots of fun !

    By the way, fingering is not a problem if one has studied Bach (and all preparatoires books before). Is common technique, holding some notes , play melody with 4th and 5th fingers ect, how else play a fugue? Piano, harpsi, organ, evan synths, is the same.
    Pedalboard makes the difference, and especially because in other keyboards we use to have the bass feeling and playin' with the left hand.. > now with the feet.
    Velocity sencitivity also takes it's part, but not for Baroque and Renaissance styles

    Yep, hang on there UCG.

    regards
    Panos
    *It's like a fight with women, which always ends in .... bed.*
    F.Kafka, Aphorisms.

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    Midshipman, Forte
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    Keep at it, practise as much as you can always remembering that the piano is a percussive instrument which requires a different approach than the organ . Imagine when playing the organ that you are drawing the sounds out of it and get to really love the feel of the keys and their response to your touch. It will come if you persevere. Good luck, Sylvie

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    You're not alone with your learning frustrations, UCG. Far from it ... we have all been there and experienced it ... and worked through it to become the successful organists we are today.

    Only through diligent practicing will you be able to overcome the fingering problems you are experiencing at the moment. Take it slow ... s-l-o-w ... there will be plenty of time for break-neck speed playing later on. At this stage, it's okay to look at your hands and fingers ... the brain/hand coordination needs to be learned.

    Start with the first measure of music ... learn it ... only when you are able to play it without stalling, then move on to the next measure ... once you have learned that one, then go back to the beginning and play the 1st and 2nd measures. Then learn the 3rd measure ... once under your belt, then go back to and play the 1st, 2nd and 3rd measures. Continue with that pattern until things start to become easier.

    If you make a mistake, try to figure out what happened and correct it right then and there. Mistakes, if not fixed, are more difficult to "unlearn" later on.

    Stay with it, UGC ... the rewards later on are very much worth all the toil & frustration of learning.
    Kh ~~.
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  6. #6
    Commodore con Forza
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    And why do you need "break-neck speed"?? That's mostly for show-offs, a la Fox, Bish, etc. I still say that, in a large church with decent reverberation, such speed just muddies the music and makes the individual voices melt together.

    Fox was notorious for his attitude of not caring how a composer meant a piece to sound -- he did it HIS way, and that was that. He was also controversial, at least partly for that reason.

    It is hard to believe that, on the instruments they had, Franck, Widor, or even Bach himself played at the tempi common these days. In his autobiography, Albert Schweitzer remarked that "Bach is played altogether too fast". And Widor was known to complain that many organists played his "Toccata" too fast. Is showing off technical ability the only criterium that is important?

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    My point in mentioning 'break-neck' speeds was not intended to promote such fast playing. I was merely trying to point out that slow is the way to start out. I possibly should have used the term 'a tempo' instead. Sorry for any confusion.

    I too dislike those who find the need to play something as fast as humanly possible. I had always liked the tempo taken by E. Power Biggs.
    Kh ~~.
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    Amateur musicians practice until they get it right ...
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  8. #8
    Seaman, Mezzoforte UCG Musician's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghekorg7 View Post

    fingering is not a problem if one has studied Bach (and all preparatoires books before). Is common technique, holding some notes , play melody with 4th and 5th fingers ect, how else play a fugue? Piano, harpsi, organ, evan synths, is the same.

    Panos
    It has been quite some time since I studied Bach! In recent years I have primarily accompanied hymns & choir on piano or synth & few things have been technically demanding like Bach fugues. So I am not as prepared as many who have made this transition.

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    Seaman, Mezzoforte UCG Musician's Avatar
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    Encouraging Words

    Thanks to all for the encouragement. I thoroughly enjoy the sound & feel of the organ. But it is VERY different from piano & is still a really foreign concept. I'll keep plugging along & hoping some of it will sink in before I die of old age!

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    I know that in my Gleason book (4th edition - 1960) there are practice pieces towards the back of the publication ... perhaps also in your edition. Those are a great resource to use for some of your practice sessions, too.

    As a suggestion, I would start and end your practice sessions with something familiar - a piece, even a short one, that you can play well. If we end our practice session on a positive note (pun intended) we feel good about what we accomplished and that helps setup for the next new session.
    Kh ~~.
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    Amateur musicians practice until they get it right ...
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    fessional musicians practice until they can't get it wrong ...


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