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John Stainer Organ Learning Books - The Organ, and Complete Organ Method

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  • John Stainer Organ Learning Books - The Organ, and Complete Organ Method

    I’m looking for books on organ methods for beginners and have seen positive comments in this forum about one called Complete Organ Method, by John Stainer (1909), which I’m very interested in buying. However, I saw another book online, also by John Stainer, called The Organ (1937). So I’m a little confused and don’t know if one is simply a revision of the other, or if they're quite different.

    Could someone who is familiar with these books tell me what’s the difference between them? More importantly, which one do you think would be more appropriate for someone who is just starting to learn the organ? I’ve played by ear for many years, but now I’m interested in learning to play by reading music (prefer church hymns and classical). To that end I want to develop skills such as hand independence, fingering, pedals, etc. My left hand is also in bad need of development, since it got spoiled after many years of playing using only accompaniments. So, I would appreciate your suggestions, not only on the two books mentioned, but any others you may know about.

    Thanks.

  • #2
    They are different editions, with non-Stainer commentary in the later edition.

    I'm no expert on this book, but have owned two copies from different publication years. In the introduction there is commentary on what voices ought to be included on organs of different sizes. The original commentary was updated and edited in the later edition, presumably to match the current organ fashions of the day. Neither would really be good advice today, in my opinion.

    The exercises were identical in both editions, I believe. I would purchase the copy that is better physical condition and ignore the advice on how to specify an organ in any edition.

    I would not recommend either edition as a starting point if you are not already a pretty good pianist. The best option is to find a teach who can customize lessons based on your specific needs and that teach can recommend appropriate exercise books.

    Comment


    • #3
      I've spent a small fortune on organ methods and have owned just about all the well known ones: Gleason (Harold?), Johnson (David N.), Stainer (John), etc. I even have that (relatively) new book by Ritchie (Guy?) and I can't say that I've learned anything from any of them. Organ methods are frightfully dull and you really do need a teacher guiding you through it. Something I have never had. But I do play organ and make something of a living doing it. Hymns. Lot's o' hymns. I am teaching myself the French Horn as a (much) older beginner using hymns. I hope it is ok to mention Vidas and Ausra Pinkevicius because they have an evolving method of organ teaching online that is very fingering and literature based and a student can focus on any area of organ study that they wish. Recommended. Decades ago I came across a little (literally) book on learning organ in the Salem (Oregon) Public Library. It was titled something like (Teach Yourself the Organ). It was published by Ty Books and at a guess I would date it in the 1950's or 1960's. The author was clearly British and the book was more of a treatise on techniques than it was full of exercises (it was not). Nevertheless I learned a lot from that book.

      IMHO an adult beginner needs hymns and (simple) pieces and lots of both, they should always be on the lookout for new material to practice. This or that method of boring exercises will not cut it. Piano methods should not be overlooked if note reading is weak, but hymns do the same thing.

      Comment


      • #4
        John Stainer PDF link

        There is a PDF (127 pages) available of the 1909 edition of The Organ by John Stainer available at the following link; you can review and print pages if you'd like. The second link is (pdf) of 1937 Harold Gleason Method of Organ Playing (270 pages). However, best method is to study with a competent teacher when you can afford to.

        https://archive.org/stream/organ00stai#page/32/mode/2up

        https://urresearch.rochester.edu/ins...ersionId=32260
        Last edited by lcid; 02-11-2018, 03:09 AM.
        Lloyd

        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.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you for the advice. I agree about the need to take organ lessons and do plan to take some in the not-too-distant future--1 or 2 years. However, at this time my work and personal schedules preclude that--I work full time, and most of the little time “available” in the evenings and weekends is spent helping my wife with the upkeep of our house. So I really don’t want to commit to taking lessons until I consistently have time available to practice every week.

          In the meantime, though, on those days when I do have time, I want to use it wisely and start learning some basic skills and fundamentals. For example, a year ago I started learning to read music on my own and practicing scales and some entry-level songs on the piano.

          I have played organ by ear for many years, but it’s mostly pop songs (with accompaniment) and a few slow melodies on my own (no accompaniment)--my left hand is in serious need of development. My goal is to learn to eventually be able to play organ without the accompaniments. That’s why I’m looking for a structured method that I can use at home until I’m ready to take lessons--i.e., something to guide me and help me focus. I agree that books alone just won’t do it. However, they can be a great aid for someone in my situation.

          Lloyd, thanks for the links to the two books. I’ll check them out.

          Leisesturm, you mentioned that you never had a teacher, but that you do play organ--even “making something of a living” doing it! That’s pretty cool. Without a teacher, how did you learn so well? Was it just by learning and playing hymns at your own pace? I also saw your comment about Vidas and Ausra Pinkevicius. I briefly visited their website just last week for the first time and was impressed with the amount of material it contains. Has it helped you? Any suggestions on how best to use the site--particular sections, etc.?

          Comment


          • #6
            Sir John Stainer died in 1901. It's unclear whether he had a manuscript ready to printed as "The Organ" in 1909, or whether someone else took various writings and put them together into a book.

            In 1909, Schirmer was already publishing an edited version of this:
            https://archive.org/stream/organ00stai#page/n3/mode/2up

            If you look closely at the back cover of this Dover edition, it states that the 1909 edition is already a reprint of an 1877 publication, but I can't track that down. The back cover of the Dover edition also says that several publishers offered an "Americanized" edition in the early twentieth century:
            https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Orga.../dp/0486430790

            According to his Wikipedia biography, the only book he wrote in 1877 was "Composition", which is not an organ method:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_S...nd_instruments

            Here is a link to "Composition":
            https://archive.org/details/composition00staiuoft

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MusicGuy View Post
              Leisesturm, you mentioned that you never had a teacher, but that you do play organ--even “making something of a living” doing it! That’s pretty cool. Without a teacher, how did you learn so well? Was it just by learning and playing hymns at your own pace? I also saw your comment about Vidas and Ausra Pinkevicius. I briefly visited their website just last week for the first time and was impressed with the amount of material it contains. Has it helped you? Any suggestions on how best to use the site--particular sections, etc.?
              I still haven't pulled the trigger on Vidas's site. But I recommend it anyway. I'd like to have my own instrument at home before I make that commitment to concentrated study. As to how I got here. Time. I've heard that you can master anything in, what, 10,000 hours (5 years). Maybe. But I think that is if you are 5 years. Old. And have two or three teachers concurrently. It took me more like 20 years. And I still have a lot to learn else I would not be considering the 'Total Organist' program.

              Comment


              • #8
                Lloyd, thanks for the links. I was able to download The Organ and peruse through it--it has lots of useful techniques that I plan to review over the next few weeks / months.

                Regeron, thanks for the background and the links--using one of them I was able to compare The Complete Organ Method to The Organ, and it turns out they're essentially the same books. That answers my original question that led me to start this thread, so thanks!

                Leisesturm, I did a quick check of the Total Organist, and the program appears to be very comprehensive. While I can't embark on it at this point, I certainly will keep it as an option to try in the future. I like that you can pull out of it anytime without any further commitment.

                Comment


                • #9
                  MusicGuy,

                  I had a chance to compare the 1910 edition of John Stainer’s The Organ (edited and enlarged by James Rogers), with the 1909 edition posted by ‘lcid’ and noticed that some of scale exercises in the 1909 edition did not have single-note manual accompaniment in the “Scale Passages For Alternate Toes” section and that a number of the melodic / harmonious three-part exercises were missing. Thus I would recommend the 1910 edition (cover picture attached). I found some used versions at:

                  https://www.abebooks.com/book-search.../organ-method/
                  https://www.amazon.com/Organ-Music-B.../dp/B0052OJN5W

                  The Stainer book, Flor Peeter’s Little Organ Book and Bach’s Eight Little Preludes and Fugues were all recommended by my church organist back in the early 1970’s when I first became interested in learning to play the Organ. I particularly like the Stainer / Rogers book because its exercises are melodic and have very interesting harmony that you may also enjoy based on your preferences in the first post.

                  It has been a long time between the 70s and when I re-started to play/practice again in January of 2017. When I restarted, I believe our capabilities might have been close since I had to think about which key to press when reading notes – especially in the left hand. And I still have to mentally deal with two sharps so I might not be the right person to give advice except that I’ve been in your shoes recently.

                  If you are just getting started reading notes and like Bach, I might suggest Anna Magdalena’s Notebook (picture attached) since it has many simple, enjoyable Chorales and Minuets for manuals only. You could try that book at the same time you start on Stainer’s petal exercises for finding notes using gaps between petal sharps.

                  When you get to a point where you don’t have to mentally translate notes to key presses, I believe you will like Stainer’s The Organ for its "Exercises For The Manual Touch". They are challenging but well worth the effort to get the fingers to press firmly, independently and to roll the thumb under different fingers. Each exercise introduces a different key. The next step would be to work on petal scales (which are more short adjacent notes to form a melody) while playing single notes on the manuals and then to gradually integrate petals with the manuals as presented in Easy Exercises For Producing Independence of Hands and Feet.

                  I like Flor Peeter’s Little Organ book for its manual exercises and guidance about registration and fingering. I have not gotten much farther than Three Part Manual Playing and Exercises for Heal and Toe in a year since I have chosen to learn mostly from Stainer's book and have chosen to learn the Little Prelude and Fugue in C Major and recently the Little Prelude in E Minor. Both give you a measure of progress so far.

                  Good luck with your venture. Expect small improvements over time.
                  Attached Files
                  Last edited by Al Offt; 02-16-2018, 04:59 PM. Reason: correct grammar and typos
                  Alan

                  Allen MOS-1, Model 100, Serial AC-440
                  purchased in 1972

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Flor Peeter

                    Alan,

                    Good research and recommendation for the 1910 Stainer edition. I'm now seventy-five and I too was started with the same books you mentioned and made good progress. However, I had trouble with Flor Peeter’s Little Organ Book and it is HIGHLY recommended. For some reason, I just didn't enjoy working out of it at all and kept putting it aside and at the bottom of my stack of music. Maybe it's some of his harmonic structure? About twenty-five years after I began studies, I did finally play a couple of pieces out of that book as service music, but that was it. Along with John Stainer I was also taught using Harold Gleason's book. I encourage Luis to work hard and learn the organ; it will be worth all his efforts and time spent.
                    Lloyd

                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Flor Peeters Little Organ Book was my first organ method, too. It was fine at the time - challenging me and teaching me new things, especially when I couldn't coordinate my hands and feet too easily. As my technique improved and now that I am a teacher, I find a lot of the pieces to be quite dull.

                      As a North American, raised in an evangelical environment, the modal pieces sounded sad and morose. I had no connection at all to the chorale preludes based on German chorales. The same holds true now for my own students.

                      Peeters was a good stepping stone from less technique to more technique, but the repertoire itself isn't necessarily worth carrying into your future. Use your time to learn more interesting pieces. Use the book to build your technique and improve your ability to learn new pieces, then move on.

                      Peeters own compositions are good for teaching, but his harmonic language is somehow lacking - probably one reason that you rarely encounter his works on recital programs.

                      We have to remember, too, that in the time since Peeters wrote the book, increased interest in early music and historical performance practice have given us a much better understanding of how to play 'the old masters' than Peeters had access to.

                      Playing the organ involves such a diversity of skills that time spent on any of them will be of benefit - manuals, pedal, registration, articulation. It will also help to learn whatever you can about harmony, counterpoint, form, history, etc. They aren't required as such, but will contribute to a well-rounded understanding of the music you are playing. All kinds of things get easier, the more we learn.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I’ve collected quite a list of method books over the past couple of weeks, including the four that Alan mentioned on his post, so thank you! To go one step at a time and first start learning the basics, this week I ordered just a couple of books: The Little Organ Book by Flor Peeters, and another one called New Organ Course: Book One, by David Carr Glover, which supposedly has quite a few exercises to help develop independence of the left hand. I’ll first finish those two and become fairly proficient with them before venturing into others--kind of the stepping stone approach that regeron mentioned.

                        Just this week I also came across a couple of organ method series called Discover the Basics, and Discover the Organ, by Dr. Wayne Leupold - http://www.wayneleupold.com/organ-teaching-methods.html. Apparently they were designed for students who have no previous keyboard skills, so they do address music reading skills (particularly the Basic series). Has anyone heard about them? Any thoughts, pros / cons?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          If this is somehow lacking, I'm ok with that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6HlSxRRanA

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Leisesturm View Post
                            If this is somehow lacking, I'm ok with that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6HlSxRRanA
                            Leisesturm, thank you for your thought. Sorry for taking so long to reply; I've been trying to find the words that express why it doesn't grab me and I'm still not sure, but I'll give it a try. I'm not an expert in either harmony or history; perhaps someone with more experience in those fields can understand what I'm trying to say and give a clearer explanation.

                            The issue for me relates to a comparison of his individual harmonies with his excursions to various tonal centers.

                            As music developed, European composers started to incorporate related keys into their pieces. For example, a piece in a major key could move into the dominant or relative major. As that became normalized, composers sought out new harmonic destinations, such as third relations. Eventually, harmonic options became even broader and more exploratory. The makeup of individual chords also became richer; the rules of theory evolved to accommodate them.

                            What I find with Flor Peeters is that the makeup of his individual chords sounds more modern than his choice of harmonic destinations and alternate tonal centers. His use of those chords leads me to believe that he'll take us on a harmonic journey into some interesting places, but we don't get there.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MusicGuy View Post
                              Im looking for books on organ methods for beginners and have seen positive comments in this forum about one called Complete Organ Method, by John Stainer (1909), which Im very interested in buying. However, I saw another book online, also by John Stainer, called The Organ (1937). So Im a little confused and dont know if one is simply a revision of the other, or if they're quite different.

                              Could someone who is familiar with these books tell me whats the difference between them? More importantly, which one do you think would be more appropriate for someone who is just starting to learn the organ? Ive played by ear for many years, but now Im interested in learning to play by reading music (prefer church hymns and classical). To that end I want to develop skills such as hand independence, fingering, pedals, etc. My left hand is also in bad need of development, since it got spoiled after many years of playing using only accompaniments. So, I would appreciate your suggestions, not only on the two books mentioned, but any others you may know about.

                              Thanks.
                              Hi, is anyone have PEDAL MASTERY by JOYCE JONES PDF file here?

                              Comment

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