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  • Organ teachers

    Hi, my name is Wade in Raliegh, North Carolina. I took 5 years of piano as a child, then switched to organ in high school. I am now 60 years old, and looking to get back into playing, with perhaps getting to where I could serve as a church organist, or at least as a substitute. I know that organists are becoming thin on the ground these days. Does anyone know of somebody nearby who would be interested in teaching me organ again? I know how to read, obviously, but it has been so many years I find myself getting out the old Belwin Book 1 and starting over. A teacher would enforce discipline on a process that would be too easy to blow off for a week or so. I have a Kimball home organ to practice on, but finding a church organ would be a plus.

    Wade

  • #2
    Try
    CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA CHAPTER
    AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS
    (The Oldest Chapter in the Carolinas - Chartered November 23, 1922 - Our 90th Year)
    1800 Fairley Dr.
    Raleigh, N.C. 27607

    http://agohq.org/chapter/?handle=centralnc

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    • #3
      Thankyou crapwonk, I will do that.

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      • #4
        Just to bring you up to date, crapwonk, I contacted the Central North Carolina Chapter of the AGO asking about teachers. I was informed that they couldn't teach me unless I had a full organ-2-61 note manuals and a 32 note pedal board. Somewhat disappointing, but I will try to find such an organ to practice on. Meanwhile, thanks for the contact.

        Wade

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        • #5
          Contact your local High School. Many music teachers take on students for private lessons. Ask to leave a message for the band and chorus directors. If they aren't giving lessons personally I'm sure they'll know who does. There is no reason you can't learn to be a good church organist with a 25 pedal console. You're probably not ready for the advanced pieces that use the extra 7 notes yet anyway. With your piano experience it won't take long to adapt to organ music. Look for Lorenz music online and check out the church music they print for the amateur organist. Best wishes. There are alot of churches in need of dedicated musicians. Don't let the purists deter your goal!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Wade View Post
            Just to bring you up to date, crapwonk, I contacted the Central North Carolina Chapter of the AGO asking about teachers. I was informed that they couldn't teach me unless I had a full organ-2-61 note manuals and a 32 note pedal board. Somewhat disappointing, but I will try to find such an organ to practice on.Wade
            I'm really disappointed that is the response you got from your local AGO Chapter. What a way to put people off wanting to learn an instrument. Just because it isn't "standard spec" doesn't mean you can't be taught some of the fundamentals. How snobbish of them.

            It might take a bit of leg-work but how about doing a mini-tour of your local Churches to find someone who plays competantly. Some of the larger Churches/Cathedrals etc. with sizeable choirs in your area might be a better place to start. Approach the organist and ask if they are open to giving lessons. Also look for AAGO or FAGO after their names which will indicate that they have taken one of the AGO professional examinations - but don't let this be your "hard and fast rule", there are plenty of great organists who have never bothered with such exams :-)

            Don't let the purists get to you. There are plenty of reasonable people out there who would happily teach you.
            1971 Allen Organ TC-3S (#42904) w/sequential capture system.
            Speakers: x1 Model 100 Gyro, x1 Model 105 & x3 Model 108.

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            • #7
              Organs4Me and Nullogik, you each have some very good ideas. My music director at Church is a professor of music at a local university in real life. Indeed, he imports a student now and then to supplement our little choir. I will see what he can tell me. I had not thought of checking with a band director, but that isn't a bad idea either. As far as letting "purists" get me down, well, they have to have their standards, that's fine. Were I a young man and looking to make organ a career, I would be following their suggestions. But I am getting old, and no longer have the luxury of time.

              Thanks all for your suggestions,
              Wade

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Wade View Post
                As far as letting "purists" get me down, well, they have to have their standards, that's fine. Were I a young man and looking to make organ a career, I would be following their suggestions. But I am getting old, and no longer have the luxury of time.Wade
                Wade, you mention that you have a Kimball organ, but do not mention it's specs; and that's important. If it's a spinet, then I would definitely refrain from becoming involved; but certainly not on the basis nullogik suggests: "How snobbish of them!" My singular reason for refraining from engaging with someone with spinet, would be that I wouldn't have the remotest clue as to how to teach someone on that kind of instrument. If you happen to have a 25 note pedal board, then I would have absolutely no problem with that. I learned on a 25 note pedal board, a specification that doesn't exceed many of the prominent pipe organs in Europe.

                Then there is the age problem: 60 years of age is too late to accomplish anything of significance. And for the most part, even starting at 20 years of age is a tad late. The best time to start is around age 5, when musical neural pathways are just starting to be formed, which at even that age, takes at least 3 years for new musical neural pathways to be formed. After that, the entire process begins to slow down. And by the time you reach 60 years, the process has pretty much slowed to a halt.

                At my age, 70, I don't expend a whole lot of effort learning new pieces; in favour of enjoying all of the wonderful compositions I have learned over the years. Even if I wanted to learn something new, inevitable back-pain from sitting for hours at the console would tell me that I'm too old to be doing this kind of thing. :-) Ironically, I can play for hours without experiencing any kind of negative feedback; but when I attempt a new complex composition, I'm totally finished for the day, within an hour! :-P
                Last edited by Clarion; 01-05-2013, 11:16 PM.
                2008: Phoenix III/44

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                • #9
                  Clarion, you may end up being correct on all counts. However, remember that I did take piano from the age of 7 to 15, and then organ from 15-18. I hope my neural pathways are still there, but need to be cleared out a bit so they are active again. I haven't been totally non musical, as I sing in the choir and I did learn the trumpet as an entirely new instrument to me at age 45. But, hey, I understand anyone who would have any reluctance to taking on such a task, and it was not I who called the AGO "snobbish." You may be right about my quest being quixotic, time will tell...

                  Unfortunately, the Kimball I have is a spinet model, but I have simply not used the "entertainer" features insisting on using the manuals and pedals. I am currently on a quest to find a more suitable organ. Indeed, I saw a Viscount db-25 which has a full 32 note pedal board, and is a Hammond clone. Indeed, there was a Hammond right next to it, I played both and could not tell the difference. The only problem was they wanted too much money. The organ has sat there for 8 years. I think I'll give them another month and see if they want to move it out to make room for more current inventory.

                  Meanwhile, take care of that back, old man:-> Remember, we are in our "golden years;-)"

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                  • #10
                    Wade, don't wait on the dealer to change heart after 8 years. There are alot of books on Ebay that make allowances in the score for use with spinet, including some nice collections of hymn tunes. I've had experience with a local dealership regarding a Wurlitzer church organ (25 pedals but with quadrafoils engraved in the Top Side Molding for a nice worship look) and they were firm at $400 even though an octave divider was out. Recently a new owner came in and did away with alot of the old stock. The Wurly was broken up and all the Technics went as donation to non profits. One is still lingering overpriced at a local thrift in fact. And I later got a 32 pedal and 25 pedal Wurly which are both treasures in my 13 instrument family so I didn't loose out at all.

                    I just added a Kimball Camelot spinet in my collection to replace a 25 pedal console I gave to a church group a few years ago. (model 1590) After being roughed up in moves a few times the keys were badly misaligned and I choose not to receive it back (though the offer was made). Fortunately the Camelot was voiced pretty much the same. I especially like the Syntha Voices for reed and string solos - but be careful not to route the strings through the Leslie. The first time I heard a Kimball at a nursing home someone had done so and it sounded terrible!

                    Johns Stainer's guide to organ gives some illustrations for dividing the 4 part harmony of hymns. You can use the top note alone on solo manual; alto and tenor on the accompaniment; and of course, bass on the pedal. Or you can play "piano" style on the accompaniment and repeat the bass in the pedal.

                    Once you get the hang of those two techniques you can easily "substitute" at church anytime at all by employing just the first 13 pedals that you are already comfortable using. Hope this helps you get started using your Kimball. They have great flutes which with a little diapason or chorus reed added should give you easy registration.

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                    • #11
                      Wade Back in ancient time, when I was a teen, (I wil lbe 70 in April) my father had a Wurlitzer spinett with all the same shortcomings that your Kimball would possess. No teacher would take me either because it was not AGO spec. THis was in Toronto back in the late 50s.
                      So I picked up a few simple tunes on it and then tried some Guilmant for fun. I had to really adapt his original music score to fit the Wurly but I had no choice because a bigger organ was not on the horizon. It did work sort of! I had some piano but not as much as you.
                      Caveat emptor but keep an eye on eBay for digital organs, Craig's list as well. My experience has been that dealers seem to want higher prices for their "used" organs than the prices noted by private sellers. Just my 2 cents! Good luck and keep us posted!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by robmcginn View Post
                        Wade Back in ancient time, when I was a teen, (I wil lbe 70 in April) my father had a Wurlitzer spinett with all the same shortcomings that your Kimball would possess. No teacher would take me either because it was not AGO spec. THis was in Toronto back in the late 50s.
                        My father also had one of those gruesome Wurlitzer spinets back in the 50s. Not something I ever had an interest in playing. :-P I never developed any kind of interest in organ until 1958, because I had never heard a real organ before. Then a friend, demonstrating the merits of his wonderful new-fangled hi-fi system, played a recording of Bach on the Biggest, with Robert Elmore at the console of the Atlantic City Hall Pipe Organ, when I was only 16. I had never heard anything like that before; but was hooked forever! ;-)
                        2008: Phoenix III/44

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                        • #13
                          I grew up in a church with a Hammond Spinet, probably from the 1950's, with a 12-note pedal - [we didn't have the benefit of a top C!!] and I was able to play some wonderful music. Mind you, in that church, we only played hymns, but we did a darn good job of it.

                          There is nothing to prevent you from doing something similar. No, lots of the "legitimate" organ rep simply won't work, because you'll run out of keys at one end or the other, and pedalling with heal and toe is a bit tricky [it was actually not that hard in the era of platform-soled shoes - those high heels made toe/heel playing not that bad on those tiny toothbrush pedals.]

                          We normally ended up with soprano and alto on the upper manual, and tenor and bass on the lower, with the bass doubled in the pedal; or as someone suggested, pedal takes the bass, tenor and alto on the lower manual and soprano soloed on the upper manual.

                          Glorious music can still be made, but you have to realize that it is a different definition of "Glory".

                          Go for it and enjoy. I'm sorry, I don't have any organ tutors to recommend, but if you keep it simple, that's a good start.

                          Oh, and by the way, 60 is NOT too old to learn something new.

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                          • #14
                            Just to keep everyone up to speed (my, I didn't expect all that much interest) the dealer has a group of "senior citizens" starting classes today! I signed up. Interestingly, they are teaching the way many have describe playing solo soprano, alto-tenor accomp, and bass on pedals. Of course, they want to highlight the theatre organ goodies they have piled into their various models, but I can play straight organ, as long as I play the same stuff the class plays each week. Well, it will get me started at least, and it will make me better at analysing chords and such-you know, that dusty old music theory that nobody cared for in high school. Wish me luck! And thanks all for the encouragement!

                            Wade

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Wade View Post
                              Just to keep everyone up to speed (my, I didn't expect all that much interest) the dealer has a group of "senior citizens" starting classes today! I signed up.
                              Is that a Lowrey Organ Company endeavor??
                              2008: Phoenix III/44

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