Learning the organ

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pdsfd
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Learning the organ

Post by pdsfd » Mon Jun 24, 2019 8:40 am

As someone who is right at the bottom (and no idea whether I even have a natural 'gift' for playing), can I please ask whether or not it is important to learn the piano first before learning to play the organ?

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keitha
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Re: Learning the organ

Post by keitha » Mon Jun 24, 2019 9:25 am

It is perfectly possible to start learning to play the organ 'from scratch' - ie with no prior keyboard skills. However, I think that it makes life easier if you have reached, say, Associated Board grade 4 or 5 - mainly, I suspect because it is a lot easier to practice on a piano at home (or, I guess, a decent keyboard) than to find an organ to visit to gain those skills. In addition, most organ teachers are not used to imparting the basic skills, whereas qualified piano teachers will have lots of experience of starting people from scratch, and most organ tutor books assume a reasonable level of keyboard proficiency.
Keith Ainsworth

pdsfd
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Re: Learning the organ

Post by pdsfd » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:58 am

Thanks. I have an old (mid 90s) Yamaha keyboard at home which still works, but our local church has a small Makin which may be available to have a play around on. Would it suffice to just get to know the keyboard and become comfortable with playing it before moving onto the organ, without going through a syllabus and exams?

I had a go yesterday with some basic psalm settings (including Geoffrey Boulton Smith's psalm 109 refrain) and after a few attempts I could play the vocal sheet music (not the accompaniment sheet music) to them reasonably well. Was also quite pleased to be able to play the tune of 'O Bread of Heaven' without looking at the keys!

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VML
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Re: Learning the organ

Post by VML » Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:46 am

Hello pdfsd, I would be interested to know if you played the tune of O Bread of Heaven from the notes in front of you, or simply by remembering what you have heard. Are you a young beginner, or a mature person who has not played an instrument before? It is never too late to start, and always worthwhile.

pdsfd
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Re: Learning the organ

Post by pdsfd » Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:44 am

VML wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:46 am
Hello pdfsd, I would be interested to know if you played the tune of O Bread of Heaven from the notes in front of you, or simply by remembering what you have heard. Are you a young beginner, or a mature person who has not played an instrument before? It is never too late to start, and always worthwhile.
Hello VML, in terms of the keyboard, I am a 30 year old beginner. I have a love for a lot of church music and organ accompaniment especially.

I didn't have the notes for O Bread of Heaven, so it was remembering what I had heard, although as I say it was just the tune rather than the accompaniment notes.

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VML
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Re: Learning the organ

Post by VML » Tue Jun 25, 2019 2:02 pm

That is useful info. You are young enough to get going and make as much progress as you put in the time to make. And if you can replicate a tune you have heard, that is more 'natural gift' than many have, especially children, who sit with an instrument and slave away at the dots with no concept of playing a tune.
Do you play any other instrument, or sing?
It is also nice that you know this hymn well enough to play through, when it would be totally foreign to most 30 somethings whose church and school music experience is all Christian worship songs.

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Re: Learning the organ

Post by pdsfd » Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:38 pm

I don't play any other instrument and whilst I don't sing in a choir, I have plenty of experience of singing in the church congregation; specifically at my local cathedral, which is renowned for its diverse approach to the music. This has definitely helped me to 'get the ear for it' and I can sing quite a lot better now than when I first started attending the Cathedral Mass!

I've begun using a beginner's guide to playing the organ which seems very thorough and informative; read through the early details of the manuals and divisions, a rank of pipes for a stop, the length of the pipes and how they relate to the keyboard octaves and pitch. Also details about the pipes themselves; flue and reeds, touched on couplers, pistons and the swell pedal. Finally treble and bass clefs, the middle C and correct hand position etc. It advises to use a console so to practise all the stops and later on the pedals, but currently just using my Yamaha keyboard.

Have to admit 'O Bread of Heaven' isn't one of my favourites, it somehow just came into my head! I do like a lot of the old Anglican hymns, but also quite fond of some of the stuff that came after the folky '70s era; things like the St Thomas More Group and Bob Hurd, Dan Feiton, John Bell, Michael Joncas etc. Our previous Director of Music also had his own settings and songs which were very enjoyable to sing.

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VML
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Re: Learning the organ

Post by VML » Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:30 am

If your parish is your diocese as stated on your profile, your former director of music does indeed produce some lovely music. :D Good luck with your learning, and please tell us how you get on.

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mcb
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Re: Learning the organ

Post by mcb » Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:43 am

Thanks pdsfd, those are heart-warming things to hear. :) I wonder if your experience counts as good evidence in support of putting the 'dots' on the people's sheet week in week out? A regular attender at the Cathedral would end up being able to read music whether they liked it or not. :)

As for the organ, go for it! My own experience with piano and organ is that if you persevere you improve... When I first took on direction of the choir I was reluctant to play the piano for rehearsals, but cheerfully blundering along brought increased confidence and (eventually!) increased skills. So much so that I now seem to be 'the parish organist' in my new surroundings. The nearest thing they've got, anyway.

I wonder if you've talked to Anthony at the Cathedral? I know he's given lots of help over the years to beginner organists, and I've no doubt he'd be an excellent source of help and guidance.

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mcb
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Re: Learning the organ

Post by mcb » Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:44 am

VML, I'm blushing. :oops:

pdsfd
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Re: Learning the organ

Post by pdsfd » Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:54 am

Thanks both. I don't think I'm quite at that point, mcb, but I can at least get a reasonable idea of how most of the psalm refrains will go by looking at the stave, before we start singing them! I particularly like your sanctus setting and 'Rejoice forever'.

Thanks for the heads up about Anthony; I've spoken to him a few times so will ask him once I've made a bit more progress with David Sanger's guide. Getting to even a quarter of his level I think would be some achievement! The pedal board and getting the right coordination between the manuals and the pedals, as well as tenor parts and swell to pedal staves etc, seem the most daunting aspects at this point.

JW
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Re: Learning the organ

Post by JW » Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:53 pm

If you have already started on David Sanger's book, then I would strongly encourage you to have organ lessons. This will greatly help you to progress, as well as eliminating bad habits at an early stage.
JW

Southern Comfort
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Re: Learning the organ

Post by Southern Comfort » Wed Jun 26, 2019 4:44 pm

pdsfd wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:38 pm
Have to admit 'O Bread of Heaven' isn't one of my favourites, it somehow just came into my head! I do like a lot of the old Anglican hymns, but also quite fond of some of the stuff that came after the folky '70s era; things like the St Thomas More Group and Bob Hurd, Dan Feiton, John Bell, Michael Joncas etc. Our previous Director of Music also had his own settings and songs which were very enjoyable to sing.
I looked at this list and thought "Who is Dan Feiton?!" It turns out that Dan Feiten (correct spelling) wrote only one song that has lasted, Seed, Scattered and Sown, a fairly folksy offering (1987) which I remember from some American hymnals of bygone years but whose composer I would have been unable to name. Now I discover that this song was included in Laudate. I must confess that I am still uncovering new things in that hymn book, even after all this time (as well as finding a myriad of new misprints to add to the list of thousands already uncovered); and clearly this song is still alive in Salford, even if it has died in most other places. You learn something new every day!

pdsfd
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Re: Learning the organ

Post by pdsfd » Wed Jun 26, 2019 5:40 pm

Southern Comfort wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 4:44 pm
pdsfd wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:38 pm
Have to admit 'O Bread of Heaven' isn't one of my favourites, it somehow just came into my head! I do like a lot of the old Anglican hymns, but also quite fond of some of the stuff that came after the folky '70s era; things like the St Thomas More Group and Bob Hurd, Dan Feiton, John Bell, Michael Joncas etc. Our previous Director of Music also had his own settings and songs which were very enjoyable to sing.
I looked at this list and thought "Who is Dan Feiton?!" It turns out that Dan Feiten (correct spelling) wrote only one song that has lasted, Seed, Scattered and Sown, a fairly folksy offering (1987) which I remember from some American hymnals of bygone years but whose composer I would have been unable to name. Now I discover that this song was included in Laudate. I must confess that I am still uncovering new things in that hymn book, even after all this time (as well as finding a myriad of new misprints to add to the list of thousands already uncovered); and clearly this song is still alive in Salford, even if it has died in most other places. You learn something new every day!
Not just Salford either! The last time I heard it was the last time we had the parable of the sower on a Sunday, and this was at a parish in the West Midlands. I've heard the folksy version of it, but at both this church and at Salford we have sung it at a much slower pace, and it is better for it IMO. It is also in the McCrimmons hymn book.

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VML
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Re: Learning the organ

Post by VML » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:05 am

:D
mcb wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:44 am
VML, I'm blushing. :oops:

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