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Thread: First Questions

  1. #1
    Seaman, Mezzoforte Drummer's Avatar
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    First Questions

    Hello all,

    I am 39 years old and I have just became fascinated by the pipe organ in the church where I work. By the way, I work for nuns and I love it.

    One of the sisters told me all about the pipe organ the other day and I immediately became fascinated. I started looking for an instructor to teach me. My wife happened to have a friend that agreed to give me lessons. But I haven't started yet.

    I would like to do what I can to get prepared for these lessons, so I have some questions for all of you. In high school I played drums for all of the bands my school had. I learned music in class, but never really used it, except for reading percussion music. I have forgotten all of that, except I can still play the drum kit and read drum music. So I know I need to start learning how to read music again, since I want to learn to play the organ. Is there any particular way I should start teaching myself to read music for the organ?
    Is there a cheap organ or keyboard that I can buy for my home so I can practice?
    What should I start listening too that might help me?

    Any other tips would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  2. #2
    Commodore con Forza musicalis's Avatar
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    playing at home

    Hi
    First you have to learn again to read notes, in G (treble) key for right hand and in F (bass) key for left hand and pedals.
    In a first time, you can play organ on a single manual, without pedals. There are a lot of scores for organ without pedals.

    As you have a computer yet (I hope it is a PC), I invite you to install a freeware call Kloria MyOrgan (see some topics in this forum). With this freeware and a cheap midi keyboard (5 octaves), you will be able to play the organ at home, really like in a church.
    Last edited by musicalis; May-31-2008 at 12:09.
    Friendly yours. Jean-Paul

    Music is my placebo

    Please visit my channel and web site to hear the music I compose
    http://fr.youtube.com/organcomposer
    http://organ.monespace.net

  3. #3
    Admiral Maestoso marval's Avatar
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    Hello Drummer

    Welcome to the forum.

    I am not an Organist, but there are many here. I am sure your questions will be answered. Jean Paul has given you some good advice. I wish you well with your playing.


    Margaret

  4. #4
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso methodistgirl's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum. I play an organ once in a while. The best way
    is to wait until there is a good teacher to give lessons.
    judy tooley

  5. #5
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Hi Drummer,

    Welcome to Magle International Music Forums ...

    Speaking as a professional organist, having a teacher is absolutely essential if your desire is to seriously learn the organ.
    Beginning students are concentrating so hard on just playing all the right notes that they are oblivious to the changes in rhythm, wrong notes, etc.

    During my first year of organ study, I secured my first church organist position - I was 12 years old at the time - I've been playing ever since, now in my 48th year, still enjoying every moment. I continue to practice each week, though no longer 3 hours per day, but average at least 10 hours a week at the console in addition to my every week church service playing.

    You also need to practice, practice, practice. I spent 3 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 6 years practicing (that's 6,552 hours, btw), honing my skills, especially on the pedalboard. It matters not what one practices on - it's the repetition of the fingers and the feet that is "learned", (the beauty of the instrument or how it sounds is secondary to the keyboard workouts), and the end result will be the greatest reward.

    In my own case, I had 6 years of private piano lessons followed by 8 years of organ study, the last two while attending college. I've never regretted all those years of lessons ... never once.

    Keep us posted on your progress.
    Kh ~~.
    Administrator


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


  6. #6
    Seaman, Mezzoforte Drummer's Avatar
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    Thank you for the replies. Sounds good, I'll wait for an instructor to show me what to do.
    In the mean time, I have been combing the Internet looking for a low cost MIDI keyboard controller to use with MyOrgan software.

  7. #7
    Ensign, Principal
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    Hi Drummer, I am also new to this great forum. However I am another "old organist". The advice you have already been given, I can't add to. However, I do confirm that I still practice at the age of 70+. My playing these days is purely for pleasure. Good luck, but most of all. Have patience. Regards Raymond

  8. #8
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    I've played the piano for a very long time so when I started to play organ less than a year ago much of it was already there. I think practicing on a real pipe organ is the best way to learn it, but if you cannot do that then a keyboard or a piano is the second best option. You definitely need access to a keyboard instrument and a good teacher. If you haven't played any keyboard instrument before and don't know how to read music then you should begin with the basics. And set aside time for it. Learning to play an instrument takes considerable time and effort.

    Having in my youth wasted much of practice time by the improductive method of trying too quickly learn new things that were way too hard for me I have one more advice: Keep it simple, if something is hard then you take your time and don't rush anywhere. If something is too complicated you break it down in smaller units.

  9. #9
    Seaman, Mezzoforte Drummer's Avatar
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    Well I'm a little aggravated this morning. The guy I thought was going to give me lessons and at least cut me a break on the cost wants even more money than the top player locally. I really don't have the kind of money it takes for these lessons. Probably my only hope is to take maybe 4 lessons and then hope I know enough to learn on my own. If not, I may just forget it all together.
    No wonder this is a dying breed.

  10. #10
    Ensign, Principal
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    Hi Drummer, Of course it is ideal to have full lessons BUT in the end PRACTICE is the most important thing. It would be sad to give up a dream because of lack of money. Practice using a synth is invaluable. Good luck

  11. #11
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Hi Drummer,

    Bummers ... that really stinks, ya know - and certainly not at all fair to an individual like yourself who earnestly wants to learn.

    Please don't just "chuck it all" - although having a tutor may be essential, there are a couple method books that come to mind, one by John Stainer and another by Harold Gleason, both being widely accepted in the organ community.

    You could get a paperback version of the Stainer : Complete Organ Method or the hardbound book, Gleason: Method of Organ Playing.

    The Gleason book (current 8th edition) is rather pricey at $143 (USD) ... I've seen prior editions selling for lots less on eBay and other online places. I used the Gleason method all during my organ study years and found its information to be invaluable. Even though my copy, the 4th edition, was purchased in 1960 (for $6.75 USD), I still refer to it this day when I feel my playing is getting sloppy.

    I also echo what Raymond has stated above - Please don't give up on your aspirations to become an organist. Yes, we organists are a dying breed - churches now are scrambling for organists ... just 40 years ago there were at least 6 applicants auditioning for every open position. Most important, don't give up on yourself.
    Kh ~~.
    Administrator


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


  12. #12
    Seaman, Mezzoforte Drummer's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, you are giving me hope. I really appreciate it. Thank you for the great suggestions! If I plan to learn on my own, I can use all the help I can get.

  13. #13
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    That's a wonderful attitude, Drummer ...

    We all hope that you will learn to play, even on your own ... later on, when you become a proficient organist, you will absolutely love even more this king of instruments.

    I do wish our resident organ pedagogue, Thomas Dressler, would pick up on this thread - he would have lots of great insights on how to help you achieve your goals. But, in the meantime, keep us posted on your progress ... we are probably your best support group and collectively I think we all want to see you succeed in this endeavor.

    Reflecting back to 1960 when I began my organ lessons (after six years of piano study) the lessons cost $8 per hour then. That had to be a heavy burden on my parents at that time, as filling the gas tank on the family car cost far less than our current price for one gallon.

    One would think that there might be an area church whose organist would be able to give you some pointers for a fraction of the cost of a tutor ... possibly in exchange (eventually) for them having a reliable substitute when they need time away from their church positions. In my own case, my choir director is also an organist, so we have a "built in" substitute on paid staff when I want to take some Sundays off.
    Kh ~~.
    Administrator


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


  14. #14
    Commander, Assistant Conductor
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    Krummhorn: What you suggest -- that Drummer get "pointers" from the local organist in exchange for giving supply services -- is out and out tax fraud. It puts both supply organists and organ teachers out of work, and it empties the government's coffers.

    Drummer: I suggest that you pay the high price for the lessons, but that you ask to have them spaced as widely as possible -- say, once a month. The Gleason and the Stainer are both good methods, but I myself started with a book by David Sanger which doesn't cost much.

  15. #15
    Lieutenant, Associate Concertmaster AllanP's Avatar
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    Drummer,

    You may already have tried the AGO, however here is a link to the national web page. Try contacting a local chapter to find an organist willing to help you.
    http://www.agohq.org/regional/

    I have had the same problem in the past. It is sometimes difficult to find a teacher who can directly relate to your issues. I have found that having a good teacher has helped me immensely, but it took years to find her and get on the student list. My lessons are spaced about a month apart due to my limited practice time (business travel). Another help is to record your own playing to play back when you are not concentrating on the mechanics of playing. The Roland R09 is an excellent digital recorder that is entirely self contained.

    Another resource which may help is the American Theatre Organ Society whose members may also be able to recommend a suitable teacher.
    http://www.atos.org/
    Last edited by AllanP; Jun-04-2008 at 01:30.

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