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Thread: Questions from a new organist

  1. #1
    Midshipman, Forte
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    Questions from a new organist

    Hello everyone! I started playing the organ a few weeks back and have loved every minute of it! I have an amazing teacher (I'm pretty sure there isn't a better one in the city!) and we have two lessons a week, as time permits. I'd like to know (from some of the older organists, and ones just starting, too!) what the hardest thing was for you while learning the organ. I would say that for me it is the adjustment of depressing notes with 2-3 fingers and playing with the remaining fingers. Also, what sage advice could you give that you wish someone would have given you just starting out? Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    My hardest challenge was the pedals initially, very difficult for my brain to fine tune the movement of two hands and two feet. I played a lot of hymns playing the bass part on the pedals (of course) the tenor on the left hand and the soprano and alto on the right hand.

    Now, my brain is much more diverse at being multifunctional, advice for you: stick with it, it'll be worth all the teeth gringing and pain in the long run.
    I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
    —Albert Einstein.

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    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    I am in accord with CT64's suggestions - Stick with it - Its worth every penny - And then some........
    *If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks* -Abba Zeno-

    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

    "Improvisational Art": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSxVO3EoCRM

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    Welcome the forums. For me I guess the connecting,lagato touch an moving the fingers around to acheive such.. as I came with a heavy background in piano.now I can go back and forth between instruments without a problem.
    ....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

  5. #5
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso methodistgirl's Avatar
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    The first time I played a pipe organ, I had to be shown
    how to use different stops to get a different sound.
    I was impressed and loved it. The one I played on was
    not as big as some of those in pictures. The one at
    my church had 47 ranks on it and I didn't really want to use
    all of them. Just enough that I knew I wasn't playing
    some Hammond organ. It played like a dream. The only
    problem, I had to give myself lessons.
    judy tooley

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    By the time I began organ lessons, I had completed 6 years of piano study. My first hurdle was learning the pedalboard ... although I was allowed to "peek" at my feet every once in awhile, for the most part during lessons and in my practice time at home, my teacher really stressed learning the pedals "by feel".

    David (Contratrombone64) brings up a good point ... trying to not double the bass part in the manuals. Takes lots of patience and hours upon hours of practicing.

    Sounds like you are enjoying the learning process, and I hope you will continue to enjoy the fulfillment of playing that the rest of us "older" generation organist have.
    Kh ~~.
    Administrator


    Amateur musicians practice until they get it right ...
    Pro
    fessional musicians practice until they can't get it wrong ...


  7. #7
    Commander, Assistant Conductor Ntalikeris666's Avatar
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    My first diffuculty was to synchronize the hands with the feet.
    Though, i got used to it quite fast. Other than that, generally the organ technique,and the fact that it is completely different compared to piano (which i was used to playing).
    Something which still is pretty chalenging for me is Prima Vistas in pieces that have a pedal line.

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    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    There's no doubt that the pipe organ requires the most skill of any western musical instrument ...
    I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
    —Albert Einstein.

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    Rear Admiral Appassionata (Ret) Ghekorg7 (Ret)'s Avatar
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    Hi Beth ! welcome to the forums !
    By the time I started pipe organ lessons I was an accomplished pianist, just finished the Hellenic Odeon-piano class. So fingers wasn't a problem at all. I could play 5 voice fugues ect. Pedals, for some unexplaned reason, was smooth and easy, but playin' solo with them (slow to fast 64notes).... .
    Also I found I had an ability right from the start playin right hand and both feet easy enough and ......the problem apeared when I tried adding the LEFT HAND !
    Synchronizing left hand - left foot was the hardest.
    I explained that as in piano first bass note first beat was almost allways with left small finger - giving rythm and on organ this had to play it with left foot....what a mess.... my British teacher was loughing enjoyably...I was giving her a happy hour.
    This was good for me 'cause she, with her loughing, kept me on.
    Another thing was my infinite love of the King of all Instruments. I wasn't thinking of giving up...ever.

    I never surrender. In whatever situation. So keep up the good work with the organ.
    Don't let any difficulty draw you back...ever ! You're gonna win unspeakable pleasures for your body and soul.

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

  10. #10
    Midshipman, Forte
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    Thanks so much, guys! It looks like the biggest challenge of the pedals is yet to come. Although I've had almost six years of self-taught piano, I'm reaping the benefits of not learning timing properly and ignoring the fingering. How long did it take before playing with hands and feet came easily for you? I started the pedals about a week ago and am working on basic things--my teacher thought it best to start them right away.
    I'm trying to perservere with practice, but technical exersizes get quite annoying! Have any of you ever played (or do you know of an online recording) of "Sanctify us with Thy Goodness" by Bach?

  11. #11
    Rear Admiral Appassionata greatcyber's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Learning/Playing the Organ

    Firstly, I'd like to also welcome you to the forum (you'll simply LOVE it here) and echo what everyone above has stated.

    For me, the most challenging thing was with sight-reading. Since I never really kept at it over the past 30 plus years, when the notes are off the clef, be it very high or very low notes, I really struggle to figure out which notes they are. In a strange way, tho, many times my fingers just "go" to the keys and they happen to be the correct ones in many cases. Luckily, I have a good ear and can usually tell if I am off the mark.

    I hope that you enjoy your experience with the wonderful organ and that by reading some of these others' problems you don't subconsciously have some of the same problems. I have a feeling that you will do very well and find as much enjoyment as other organists have. We do tend to "get lost" in our own world whilst playing.

    Code:
    Stephen

    Perform a Random Act of Kindness Today...
    ...You Just May Be in Need of One Tomorrow.

  12. #12
    Rear Admiral Appassionata (Ret) Ghekorg7 (Ret)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ntalikeris666 View Post
    .............Something which still is pretty chalenging for me is Prima Vistas in pieces that have a pedal line.
    Nick I'll add something to this : Prima vistas of bux (and some others) works with three keys : Sol/Do/Fa......Luckilly Bux use the 3 of them mostly on Chorale works with slower tempo...imagine what happens if they appear in a fast Praelude (& Fugue)!!!!!
    Have a try

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

  13. #13
    Apprentice, Piano
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    the BEST advice I got as a young (9 year-old beginner) was to USE YOUR EARS! the technical things take time to acquire (some faster than others). Learn pieces s-l-o-w-l-y and don't be worried about being perfect quickly...and learn to memorize while you're younger...it's a skill you will be glad you developed. it's great to have a good teacher, one that will steer you around the many pitfalls that lie in wait for all learning organists. and MOST of all.....HAVE FUN!!!

    Rick in VA

  14. #14
    Captain of Water Music jvhldb's Avatar
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    After playing chord organ for 20+ years (self taught) I decided to take lessons. 3 Years later I'm still in trouble at every lesson because of my fingering (why can't I use any finger to press a key, as long is it is the right key?) and my tempo is all over the place. The pedals were easy as well as holding 2/3 notes and playing the other notes with the remaining fingers.

    My bigest problem is playing staccato, it feels completely "wrong" and then there is the problem of playing something written for the right hand (say alto line) with the left hand or swapping the left and right hand.

    Maybe I shouldn't have waited until age 37 before starting music lessons!
    Johan van Heerden

  15. #15
    Rear Admiral Appassionata (Ret) Ghekorg7 (Ret)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jvhldb View Post
    After playing chord organ for 20+ years (self taught) I decided to take lessons. 3 Years later I'm still in trouble at every lesson because of my fingering (why can't I use any finger to press a key, as long is it is the right key?) and my tempo is all over the place. The pedals were easy as well as holding 2/3 notes and playing the other notes with the remaining fingers.

    My bigest problem is playing staccato, it feels completely "wrong" and then there is the problem of playing something written for the right hand (say alto line) with the left hand or swapping the left and right hand.

    Maybe I shouldn't have waited until age 37 before starting music lessons!
    Sounds like you're doin' a great job Johan. No matter the age is the will that counts and you have a great amount of !
    We 'll talk on this again in one year from now and I'm sure the things will be completely different

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

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