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When did you start learning the organ? Was it a good choice for you?

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    My parents bought a shiny new Hammond M3 about 1959 on which my brother, mother and I took lessons. About two years later we moved to Oklahoma and my mom couldn’t find a teacher she liked so the lessons stopped. I was in sixth grade, then junior high school and all sorts of other things filled my time. I always regretted not keeping up with learning the organ. Long story made much shorter, almost 60 years later I’m trying to pick up right where I left off, while also rescuing and rebuilding Hammonds. I’ve been at it almost a year, progress is slow but steady. I’m much more proficient at getting neglected organs sounding like new than playing them but I’m working on it 8). I sure could use some instruction, most of the time I’m using both hands to do the work of one! Probably one of my biggest life lessons was coming to understand that if what you’re doing pleases yourself, that’s enough. If someone else enjoys what you’re doing, that’s “icing on the cake”!
    Tom in Tulsa

    Fooling with: 1969 E100, 1955 M3, 1963 M100, Leslie 720


    • Sarah Weizhen
      Sarah Weizhen commented
      Editing a comment
      Yeah I always have to remember reminding myself whenever I feel the difficulties:
      What was the primary purpose of me learning the organ? For the love of it and for fun.
      Do I still love it have did I have fun? Yes.

      Then no matter what's the out come it doesn't matter anymore.

    I started taking organ lessons when I was in my late 20’s, and that was in 1994. Things fell into place in that I was able to get some building time for practice and a few years later was able to buy a Hammond RT-3 which has 32 AGO pedals. So I would say it was a good choice for me.

    Before I took organ lessons I had a goal in mind, which was to play church services for modest pay, a few days a month, and the occasional wedding for some decent money. My experience before then was playing keyboards with a number of local rock bands, and before then some music lessons when I was really young.

    I did have a problem finding good organ teachers that I could stick with. Several left town after a year or so, another retired from teaching, etc. My total years of private organ lessons might have been five, at the most.

    There were also many years of downtime for the organ, when I played keyboards for rock bands on the local bar scene. Money was tight and I picked up extra cash playing those gigs.

    It was almost a year ago when I was working on refurbishing a reed (pump) organ that I had picked up, and glanced across the room at the long neglected Hammond RT-3. I set down whatever tools were in my hands and grabbed a hymnal off the shelf. The Hammond tone generator willingly cranked over because even though I hadn’t played it much in years, I wasn’t foolish enough to not maintain it.

    The sight reading and pedals have come back, though were a bit rough at the start. I’ve been working through a regular practice routine of hymns and some classical. Things that challenge me without being too frustrating, and some easier stuff that I sound amazing on. While I’m sounding pretty good on most days, it will probably be another year before I am playing as well as I did at the peak of my organ playing back in the day.

    I still have the same goal of eventually playing for a church, and realistically I might be qualified for that in a year or two. Regarding your situation, you might take a mental step back and look at where you are and where to go from here.

    Determine what your goal is with the organ.

    If it is just the love of the sound and classical music, you are already there, and have a few hours of building time each week to play whatever you want. Enjoy.

    If you want a career as an organist, I’d say you are almost there. If you are good enough to sub at a church, you are probably good enough for regular work and just need to find a church that is hiring.

    Perhaps you want to continue taking lessons to get even better, but feel you can’t afford that. If you land a paying church (or other) gig, you could use that money for more private lessons, from a different teacher or course.

    Based on my personal experience, taking lessons and practicing the organ on and off over the decades, I will tell you that if you quit the organ now, it will always take you back. However, it will take time to get back to where you were, regarding your skills. In your case you also would lose whatever contacts you have for building time, which you know is a tough thing to get, and really important until you own an organ.

    You’ll figure out what is right for you.
    Hammond RT-3, Estey circa 1903, Baldwin Acrosonic spinet piano, Fender Rhodes Mark I 73 stage piano.


      Hah, yes I think you are onto something. I'm pretty sure when I was 8 if I played all the right notes in the right order I was convinced it was a brilliant performance


        I guess I'm going to find out if it really is "never too late" 8) I have my first lesson on keys in almost 60 years set up for next week!
        Tom in Tulsa

        Fooling with: 1969 E100, 1955 M3, 1963 M100, Leslie 720