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Learning to play

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  • Learning to play

    I just signed on. I don't see anything about learning. I'm "re"learning the pedals - at least I think I learned them long ago. I just started substituting in my Episcopal church. People said I did fine although I only used one pedal once. Now I'm working like crazy to learn the pedals and I'm wondering if it's worth the effort.

  • #2
    Re: Learning to play

    I would say it is worth the effort as it's important for the proper playing of hymns. <post>78</post> for some discussion on this.


    • #3
      Re: Learning to play

      Another maiden post to reply to your maiden port.

      I was in the same position just over a year ago. In my very small local (Catholic) church I offered to provide "best endeavours" cover when the regular organist was away, and had scratched my way though 4-5 Sundays when the regular organist was taken ill and sadly died. I was left like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

      I had to learn everything in a hurry: develop a decent legato; learn to play with pedals; choose relevant hymns; learn how to playover, and space between verses; how to use incidental music; reasonable registration and registration changes. And all this with a pretty rusty Grade IV piano technique. Prioritisation was the key.

      I started some lessons, and it was clear that basic hymn playing technique was the top priority: learning to breathe with the congregation between lines; learning how to break consistently between verses; learning to vary registration appropriately, and a necessary and painful demonstation of how out-of-time I was playing.

      Yes, I'm learning to pedal, and have a few hymns which I play with pedals (Caswall, Picardy, Winchester Old), but get more satisfaction from hearing the congregation singing well while I play manuals - at present the pedalling takes enough brain-share that the other skills suffer. But this is less than a year after having to pick up the baton, and every few weeks I can look back and recognise that I'm playing a little better.

      So this year the Christmas music will be manuals only (except maybe Winchester Old), but maybe next year much of it will be con pedale. In the meantime I picked up a copy of Harold Gleason fairly cheaply on eBay, which gives good exercises for manual technique. (The great thing about buying your music on eBay is that you play stuff you'd never have chosen if you'd been in a well stocked shop).

      I turned 40 this year, and reckon if it takes several years to get to be "finished" at whatever level seems right, that will give me perhaps 30 years of useful playing (unless my family's tendency to arthritis does otherwise).

      Anyway, to directly return to your question, I'm finding it is worth the effort learning pedals, but for my purposes there were many other more urgent things to learn.



      • #4

        Happily retired organist/pianist from the Church of the Brethren...Allen ADC-4300-DK.
        Home...Wurlitzer (ES) Orgatron Series 20 Serial #11608 (retrofitted with MIDI and VPO-Hauptwerk) with Leslie 44W (shorty).
        Hammond BC Serial #5070 with Leslie 31A (tallboy) tone cabinet
        A.L. Swan antique pump organ (C.1852) Cherry Valley NY
        Member of the Lutheran Church (LCMS): traditional worship. Cleveland Clinic Spiritual Care volunteer with the chaplain's office.


        • #5
          Re: Learning to play

          Remember, Bobette,
          If anyone in the parish can do it better, let him/her know that s/he may try. Episcopalians are God's "Frozen Chosen". Most of them won't know when you make a booboo. Just keep working at it.

          Pedals are important to give a good foundation to the hymns. Make sure that you play at a steady beat and "connect the dots" (play legato). Practice with the pedals in the bass and the upper three parts on the manuals. Once you get used to it you won't go back. I can no longer play a hymn on the piano that sounds like anything but I do OK on the organ. In fact the only technique I have is in the pedals. My hands are more arthritic as the years roll by. With the help of my feet, I don't have to stretch aching hands so much. It is worth the effort.

          Also, remember Bach's motto: "Soli Deo Gloria"



          • #6
            Re: Learning to play

            Hey Bobette, I am sure by now you are more than a pro. I am the least to talk about organ technique since I too learned on my own. I never learned the full two feet approach. I always felt like I was sliding off the bench. I am the proverbial two left feet guy, size 12EEE, and pigeon toed to boot. The organ is a forgiving instrument. It takes very little to make it sound like a million dollars. The pedal sounds are like the diapason for the organ... at its nature. So I learned to play with one foot on the pedals. It would not serve Bach, but works great for hymns. What is most important is that you love it. The rest is the cherry on top. Keep up the good work.


            • #7
              Re: Learning to play

              I think i got you guys beat. I ve been teaching myself to play on a Thomas Playmate w/Color Glo, upgraded to a yamaha clavinova with a split set of 88 keys. I recently purchased a 2 Manual Ago Beast that i am refurbishing. My Roommate constantly tells me that i am not playing in the correct time. I have never had a professional lesson. I bought the Teach yourself books, and the EZ Play books with the letters and thats how i learned. Pedaling does not seem to be to much of an issue for me as does finger posititions on the manuals. and if there are more then 2 notes stacked to be played with the right hand, I am pretty screwed. Chords are pretty easy for me since the EZ play is mainly chords. So the Practice goes on.
              Good luck to everyone in there endeavors.

              P.S. I got 20 months to learn to play the Trumpet Voluntary and the Wedding March plus other songs for my brothers wedding. JOY