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Thread: Questions from a new organist

  1. #31
    Captain of Water Music jvhldb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Ladybrand, Free State, South Africa
    It sounds like I have the same technique as Krummhorn and never look at my feet.

    I went to an organ recital a couple of weeks ago. One of the local students studying at university arranged it as a fundraiser for his studies. I was amased that when playing he (and his old teacher) spent as much time looking at their feet as reading the music, and they had their knees together!
    Johan van Heerden

  2. #32
    Captain of Water Music JONESEY's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    I'm not *quite* there with not looking down at the pedals yet, but certainly getting better. The fact that I play on 3 different organs and each pedal board is different adds to the confusion (or should that be enjoyment?).

    Hopefully before long I'll be pedalling without looking ... at least that's what I'm working towards!!!

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Pedalling for Organists, by Anne Marsden Thomas, recommends knees together. For a lot of repertoire this works. However my experiences in the Dorian Toccata and Fuge of Bach have been mixed. Knees together works fine in the Toccata, however in two places in the fugue which have 8 or more quavers (8th notes) together I was still getting wrong notes after four months. Then i tried with knees apart and succeeded in getting both places more accurate in 10 minutes than i had managed in the previous four months...

    No prizes for guessing what system I shall use in future.

  4. #34
    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Tucson, Arizona
    Hi schopfheim,

    Welcome to the forum

    I started out with the Harold Gleason method book as recommended by my organ teacher. I then migrated over to the Stainer method in later years which allows for crossing over and under on the pedalboard, something that I believe Mr. Gleason frowned upon.

    In my 'senior citizen' years I think any manner that is employed to hit all the right notes most of the time is acceptable to most. I have no idea what my legs and feet are doing when playing anyway - I never look down. They seem to hit all the correct notes.

  5. #35
    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster FinnViking's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    I quote Ton Koopman's opinion on fingerings: "Any method is good as long as it gives the required result".
    Marko Hakanpää, organist of St. Michael's Church, Turku, Finland
    Steam locomotive driver

  6. #36
    Captain of Water Music pcnd5584's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Quote Originally Posted by FinnViking View Post
    I quote Ton Koopman's opinion on fingerings: "Any method is good as long as it gives the required result".
    I would concur with this.

    I would not be too worried about looking at your feet, either. Whilst one should not really spend more time looking at one's feet than the music, this idea of never looking at one's feet is a little unrealistic. After all - which of us can say truthfully that we never (ever) look at our hands or fingers - or, for that matter, that we lunge at stops by feel, as if we had bags over our heads?

    In addition to being a qualified and experienced player myself, I have sat on organ benches beside a number of cathedral organists (and not just in the UK) - and I can assure you that, when it has been a choice between looking or playing a wrong note, or pressing a wrong piston, they have looked - every time.
    Last edited by pcnd5584; Jul-31-2015 at 12:14.
    Pierre Cochereau rocked, man.

  7. #37
    Commander, Assistant Conductor Albert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Rocky Mountains, Canada
    The organ method I first used as a 25 year old adult drafted into playing in services was a two book set by Ernst Kaller. I still use those very worn books as my "back to basics" when I get sloppy. The books were designed for those who "have a certain facility on the piano" to convert. 50 years later I still have to concentrate very hard to play staccato notes long enough on the organ. One would think that after all that time I would be used to 1/2 time for staccato, but it isn't so.

    Fingering ahead on the organ is more important than on the piano. In the piano one can use the damper pedal to sustain notes played with the hands bouncing around, but on the organ as soon as one lets go of the note, the wind stops, the note stops, and you lose the fluency. You might be able to do a certain passage at moderate speed without losing the fluency, but when the speed gets up, the smoothness goes away. Part of the fingering and pedaling has to include what one of my teachers calls "spider fingers" - changing fingers on notes smoothly and rapidly, and in the pedals as well so that the next note is accessible. I had a childhood accident that means that I cannot play more than a ninth with the right hand, and that is a hard stretch.

    The only solution has been mentioned above several times (I'm late to the discussion) and that is to begin the practice slowly. Get each phrase going the way it should and then gradually increase the speed until you play it the way you want to hear it.

    Welcome to the forums, and keep going. The organ is a superb instrument and well worth the effort.

  8. #38
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    stick with it, it'll be worth all the teeth grinding and pain in the long run
    Reality check. It won't, unless you can afford your own digital instrument at home and you keep away from churches. They don't appreciate classical music. And classical music is what you'll be learning on the organ.

    It was not worth it in my situation. I acquired skills that are now rendered virtually useless, thanks to the churches' desire for self-harm and modernisation. I should have stuck to the piano. At least I can have one in my house and play it when I like.

    Good luck and best wishes,

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