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  • Hello! (and a question)

    Hello all...

    I really have a question about traditional organ technique, but since this is my first post, let me introduce myself.

    I am a fellow of nineteen years, new to the organ and have only been playing for about 14mos. I never played piano or any other instrument before, however I sang and read music (a little). After an audition, I became an organ scholar at a Catholic Church in North Carolina, and studied organ for a year with the organist there (truly a master!) before moving to Los Angeles. All my practice was done on a 14-rank Zimmer tracker that broke down about as often as a 1971 Toyota Corolla, but I often learned how to fix the problems. My studies began with subdivision, and then simple finger exercises (I could recognize notes passably well, as I had been in choirs all throughout my childhood). After a few months my studies advanced to hymns, hanon exercises, scales, and Clarence Dickenson's Art of Organ playing. Before I left, I was learning more difficult 4-part hymns, and took on Bach's Eight Little Preludes and Fugues. It all went so incredibly fast, and even now I can't believe where I was and what I can do now. Playing the organ has become the center of all I do.

    Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, someone heard I was learning the organ and I was soon offered a position as organist for the mid-morning mass at a Catholic Church there. There really wasn't anyone else to do it, and the mass had been destitute of any music for well over a year. My new organ is a $80k Rodgers 950 with several ranks of pipes (I havent counted the digital ranks, but I'm guessing there's about 80-90ish). The church needs four hymns and a few acclamations and accompanied prayers, and they are completely hands-off, leaving the show to me. I found a teacher and have been playing for about three months now.

    My question is this: my first teacher had talked about how Bach played, about his articulation, and about what we know from research...ect... however he never made me learn anything performance-wise. I was taught clean-cut breathing and legato, which is what I do. I even learned the Eight Eittle Plds. & Fges in modern technique........

    .....which shocked my new teacher upon hearing them played so. She has a BM in theory and a MM in organ, which she has been playing for four years. My first teacher had a doctorate and over 25 years of lessons (he still takes them today... he is in his early thirties). I guess he just felt that I wasn't ready for it.

    What do you think of "traditional technique", of it's applicability, and where it can fit into today's churches? Is it wildly difficult to learn, and if so, is it worth it? Who plays it today?

    Next week I am going to start learning this old-fashioned-three-fingerd'-thang, and I am both eager and interested.

    travestyseventeen

  • #2
    Re: Hello! (and a question)

    hmm ok. a couple of things...


    1. those "Little Preludes and Fugues" have absoulutely NOTHING to do with Bach. I can't belive that people can even think they sound the faintest bit like Bach. They aren't worth the paper they are written on, even to learn as a beginner. There are SO many more pieces in the literature of equal approachability that are genuine little masterworks. Who is still teaching those things????


    2. Wow, Clarance Dicskson. Hmm.. what can I say?? Maybe it is applicable for Healy Willian, but other than that....


    3. Who is teaching organ with out addressing articulation as a fundemental. That's like teaching voice without concentrating on the onset and just smoothing over that to breathing. Wow...

    I dunno...

    So do you learn the 'keep the knees together while you play so you can judge the intervals and never have children thing too?" What WERE they thinking???

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Hello! (and a question)

      Re: 1 ... Yes, this I know is true.They were really written by Krebs, and over time came to use Bach's name the way Ford says 'american-made'. As for "genuine little masterworks", if you have some to suggest to me I would apprieciate being pointed in the right direction.

      Re: 2 & 3: ... I spent at least four lessons devoted to basic articulation and how I should space repeated notes or intervals based on tempo, ect... Articulation has been an ongoing study for me, which brought me to my question. I'm sorry if I misrepresented this, my articulation today is decent enough for a beginner, and for hymns, but my question was regarding Bach not me.

      Knees? No, I was trained to keep my feet close together whenever possible. The book cried out for "heels together up to an octave"... my teacher explained what the author was trying to convey, and why the author felt it necessary, but further explained that really just knowing where the pedals are is more important.

      travesty

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      • #4

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        • #5
          Re: Hello! (and a question)

          Wow, you don't understand Buxtehude? That's the easiest stuff to figure out rhetorically. Sweelink is a blind spot for me. I just don't see it's worth even though I KNOW it is great literature. I never cared for Frescobaldi.

          Buxtehude is in some cases better suited to the organ than Bach. The thing with Buxtehude is that is REALLY depends on the organ you play it and HOW you play it. Though I am horrible sight reader and organist, I can understand the structure of a Buxtehude piece instanly, whereas the Tunder and Reinken sometimes puzzle me. It's odd how we all have those idiosincracies.

          I dont' think I spelled that correctly.

          P.S. LOVE lubeck, but it is another one that you really have to have a decent Werkprincip organ to make sense of.


          PPS. I Love the screename, excpet that it reminds me of my viola teacher. He alwasy used to say, "ooooooooooh this lesson is such a TRAVIsty, in a joke about my name." He never got tenure and is now teaching at a community college. I now teach at my ala mater. Pay back is a bitch.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Hello! (and a question)

            So bitter! LOL...

            Yeah, I play legato... call it that.

            travesty

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Knees together?!

              Some of these posts mention keeping one's knees together. After playing the organ as an amateur for more than 50 years, my current teacher recently introduced me to the "Gleason" method and suggested I try it. Talk about trying to teach the old dog!! I've tried a few of the exercises-knees together, feet together-stretching the Achille's tendons like mad-going up and down the pedalboard. It just doesn't seem worth the effort and doesn't seem "natural" or comfortable to say the least.

              Then, I recently re-read "The Dish" (lots of new rediscoveries) and found a writer (pp 75-78) describe Virgil's admonition to "play as you walk" (whatever that means) and keep your knees above the ankles (not knees together)-the opposite of the Gleason method-and don't stretch the Achille's tendon!

              I'm curious if anyone here espouses the Gleason method and, if so, why. Also, what do you think Virgil meant by "play as you walk". I assume that means put your foot where it naturally wants to go.

              I've ordered that writer's new book "The Innermost Secrets-the method behind the madness" about Virgil's technique and it probably will shed some light on this. At least it should be interesting reading.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Knees together?!

                I was taught from the Gleason book. Knees and heels together make it much easier to play the most common interviews--seconds and thirds. When I find myself getting sloppy I remind myself to keep my heels together and that fixes it. I don't think about knees though.
                Finally self-published some of my compositions! https://www.createspace.com/3734555
                Piano and organ videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/CurtisBooksMusic

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Knees together?!

                  knees together is somewhat uncomfortable for me

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                  • #10
                    Re: Knees together?!

                    saying that you need to have your knees together to 'maintain interval accuracy.." or whatever is like saying you have to keep your wrists together to maintain interval accuracy in the manuals. Simply ridiculous.


                    Seond of all, I dont' know about you and I'm trying to keep this from sounding vulgar, but how can you keep your knees together without, um hurting? Maybe the female organists don't have this problem, but geeese louise, that is uncomfortable. Its like wearing a sports bra for boxer shorts.

                    I dont' understand why you need a gleasoneque method to judge intervals, you dont' need that for your hands and they do much more complicated things than your feet. Heel toe, heel toe...


                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Knees together?!

                      Aside from the obvious thoughts that Buzzy mentioned, I've never worried about keeping knees together. Heels together when appropriate, yes, but not knees. No-one ever told me about Gleason when I was learning and I don't think I missed anything!

                      Andy G
                      It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

                      New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com

                      Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
                      Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
                      Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
                      Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1

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                      • #12
                        Re: Knees together?!

                        my observation on the knees together thing:

                        I think it is something ONLY shouted as the gospel by those who were forced to learn to play that way, that is my experience anyhow, the organists I know who play that way get REALLY annoyed if you don't do it that way.

                        Virgil Fox deplored knees together as it forced unnatural stress and caused you to tire as it entails muscle strain to keep your knees together which impedes your body energy over time.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Knees together?!

                          If you are in discomfort your playing is suffering under it. Find a position that is comfortable for you, not for the writer of whatever book. It has to be compatible with playing the organ of course, but don't force yourself one way or another because of a book.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Knees together?!

                            "saying that you need to have your knees together to 'maintain interval accuracy.." or whatever is like saying you have to keep your wrists together to maintain interval accuracy in the manuals. Simply ridiculous. "

                            Why is the implication that body position aids in technique so ridiculous? Every instrument (or sport for that matter) that I know requires proper body position.

                            Sounds like you just like to keep your legs spread to me.
                            Finally self-published some of my compositions! https://www.createspace.com/3734555
                            Piano and organ videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/CurtisBooksMusic

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Knees together?!

                              After years of studying keyboard ergonimics I realize that it is about most effecient use of body positioning. Forcing your knees together is an unantural..

                              Oh hell.. who cares, you're still gonna argue anyway. If you've wasted as much time 'learning' an inefficent method, you'll be hard pressed NOT to defend it until death. We had a few of those at our school too, until they died.

                              They were also the ones that liked to change registrations in the middle of fugues...


                              **sigh**

                              they were also the ones that played all the Italian Aria lit as if it were written in the 19th century.

                              They were also the ones who never understood a balanced onset. They were also the ones who never played ona werkprizip organ in their whole lives...

                              **sigh**


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