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Learning to play the pipe organ

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  • #16
    My first problem with that is I'm finding it hard to read the tenor line in the left hand (Even harder than playing the bass line in the pedals for some reason).
    Also, the church I go to (doesn't have an organ; this is just for example) doesn't give notice on what hymns each service has (The hymns are picked just before the service and the pianist and trumpeters need to be able to play them with only 10 seconds notice.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Originally posted by Leisesturm View Post
    I surely hope it isn't the lovely organ in the YouTube video being abused like that!
    Yeah, it was.

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    • #17
      Tenor voice

      Originally posted by Eddy67716 View Post
      My first problem with that is I'm finding it hard to read the tenor line in the left hand (Even harder than playing the bass line in the pedals for some reason).
      Also, the church I go to (doesn't have an organ; this is just for example) doesn't give notice on what hymns each service has (The hymns are picked just before the service and the pianist and trumpeters need to be able to play them with only 10 seconds notice.
      - - - Updated - - -

      Eddy, the tenor voice was the hardest for me to play also and the pedal the easier of the two. Please stay encouraged; it does get easier and better with time and practice. Others may want to comment on this difficulty and their personal experience. In my case, I always felt it was because I had played mostly chords for so many years with my left hand and improvised. I suggest you begin a new hymn practicing just two voices: tenor and bass then try different combinations: S and T, A and T and etc. Learn each voice by itself fist then practice in groups of two voices, three voices and finally four voices. All the churches that I played SATB for honored my request by giving the hymn numbers by Tuesday at the latest. Should there be a last minute change, the new hymn can be played with only two parts: soprano and bass. This is usually acceptable and understandable. A last minuet change can always be refused, "I'm not prepared to play that piece." Please keep us informed on how you are doing. Thank you.
      Last edited by myorgan; 10-24-2018, 06:31 PM. Reason: Fix quote
      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


      • #18
        Eddy, I think playing the tenor line is the most difficult part of playing a 4 part hymn on the organ.

        A great technique for learning 4 part hymns is:

        1. play the right hand alone.
        2. play the left hand (tenor) and pedal (bass).
        3. play the hands alone--right hand soprano and alto, left hand tenor.
        4. play the right hand and pedal.
        5. Finally, play all parts together.

        You can also change the order, but be sure to do steps 1-4 before doing step 5. It will not take you long to start feeling comfortable with this. As you become more proficient, you can probably do steps 2, 4 and 5. I suggest you begin with hymns that you often play in church, since you don't have advanced notice of which hymns will be used each Sunday.

        Best wishes to you.
        Bill

        My home organ: Content M5800

        Comment


        • #19
          When I was first learning, not playing the bass with my hands was so difficult. It's not an issue now but it took a while before it became normal. I found it helpful to find some three-part organ music (RH on melody, LH on countermelody, Ft on bass). That helped me uncouple my LH and feet. It also helped my LH get used to playing one note. After I was more comfortable reading and playing separate staffs for RH, LH, and feet, switching back to SATB hymn music was a little easier to read and play.

          lcid and voet's advice on practicing parts is very good. I'd add to practice slowly enough that you play cleanly and then build speed.
          My teacher recently assigned a couple of songs that aren't particularly difficult but there is just enough going on that I can't sight read them at full speed. I can play the individual parts just fine and even do two parts at a time almost up to speed, but if I try all three parts, it's a disaster. I have had to practice with a metronome super slow (30bpm for eighth notes which is about 25% of full speed) so that I can play all three parts correctly and learn how all of the parts are moving relative to each other. Now that the the songs are making more sense, I can start to move the metronome up.
          Sam

          Home: Yamaha P22 and a modified Allen ADC-4500 ... for now.
          Church: Allen MDS-5
          Files: Allen Tone Card (TC) Database, TC Info, TC Converter, Chorus/Mixture TC Generator, ADC TC Soundfont, and MOS TC Soundfont

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          • #20
            Should I learn to play the Tenor and alto voices with the left hand so I can use the right hand to play a solo on the soprano line on a different manual?

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            • #21
              Of course you can also learn that, but I would try to take one step at a time.
              There has been good advice in this thread already so I won't repeat that. And if you look at older threads, you will find that many people shared these difficulties when they started. Skills don't improve by sitting and waiting, but by sitting on the organ bench and playing. Have fun!

              Comment


              • #22
                Trio hymn settings

                Originally posted by Eddy67716 View Post
                Should I learn to play the Tenor and alto voices with the left hand so I can use the right hand to play a solo on the soprano line on a different manual?
                Eddy, that would be a worthwhile future goal. However at this point, Samibe's suggestion is excellent working on three parts using a metronome until parts fit together perfectly. Try practicing hymns STB and you can also find beautifully written three-part (Trio) hymn settings in music books that are easier to read. This will develop your RH, LH and pedal independence quicker than working on four-part pieces right now.
                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


                • #23
                  I agree with lcid and andijah. Stick with STB and SATB for now. That way you always have a good default to fall back on.

                  I found out a few months ago that there are several ways to play a hymn. Everything from soloing different parts (on different divisions or registers) to writing (or improvising) a reharmonization that can be played for some of the verses. Not all of the ways a hymn can be played are conducive to congregational singing (i.e. melody in the pedals) but they can add some variety to the prelude and postlude.
                  Last edited by samibe; 10-28-2018, 03:06 PM.
                  Sam

                  Home: Yamaha P22 and a modified Allen ADC-4500 ... for now.
                  Church: Allen MDS-5
                  Files: Allen Tone Card (TC) Database, TC Info, TC Converter, Chorus/Mixture TC Generator, ADC TC Soundfont, and MOS TC Soundfont

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Eddy67716 View Post
                    Should I learn to play the Tenor and alto voices with the left hand so I can use the right hand to play a solo on the soprano line on a different manual?
                    Hi Eddy, I have watched your vid and read your story.

                    First, I have to say I like your enthousiasm. Go on that way!

                    Second, I must agree wirth earlier advice: look for a teacher. Do it! It will greatly enhance your skills and you might also be able to come in contact with other pupils, which can be very stimulating (I speak from experience). .

                    Last, if you wanna learn Hymns with S as cf, AT on a separate manual and B in pedals, I suggest the following order of study:
                    1. Only S
                    2. Only B
                    3. S + B
                    4. Only A+T
                    5. AT + S (two manuals)
                    6. AT + B (manual and pedal)
                    7. All in one.

                    Write in the footing and fingering, it wil will help you greatly.

                    Step 1 and 2 can be brief, depending on your pedalling technique.
                    Step 5 and 6 can be boring but is is a neccessary step if a beginner ever wants to play the hymn smooth.

                    All the best,
                    Dutchy.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      This is my latest improvisation. I'm getting better at manual/pedal Independence. I've also been learning, "Jesus Keep me near the Cross." SATB I've been practising different combinations of the voices. The video is in the description. (I somehow couldn't upload to Facebook.
                       

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                      • #26
                        Eddy. I'm sorry if this is hard to hear but ... Dutchy may be right. You do appear to need the discipline and focus of professional instruction if you are to make demonstrated progress. As I understand it, any discipline can be mastered in 20,000 hours. I think that is around 5 years (not literally, 5 years is 43,800 hrs literally) of actual waking hours. Long before 'mastery' a person should be good enough to 'perform'. Anyway, you are young enough for there to be a real chance that you could become a fine organist IF you can learn to focus on the basics and fashion them into a sound foundation that can be built upon. Otherwise you could find yourself still playing much like you are doing now many, many years from now. That was my father. He was never any better after 45 years of noodling around than at the beginning of his exposure to organ playing. There is a huge difference between 'improvising' and ... 'noodling around'. Simply put, you were noodling around. Sorry. That is actually putting it kindly. You need to learn your scales, chords and arpeggio's (though arpeggio's are more useful to pianists) and you need to learn simple pieces and then more complex pieces and you will discover that when you do that that your improvisation will take on an entirely different character. Most organists have the technical foundation to be great improvisers but they lack imagination. They can only play what is written out by someone else. You are exactly the opposite. You have plenty of imagination. You, however, lack the technical foundation to bring it out in a way that can be appreciated. I can't honestly say which is the better situation to be in. Get to work.

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                        • #27
                          Yes, I agree - get a teacher.

                          Here is a link to Stainer's Organ Tutor: https://archive.org/stream/organ00stai#page/32/mode/2up
                          There are pedal exercises from about page 34. You can download any pages you think might be helpful.

                          Personally, and most won't agree, I would play all 4 parts of a hymn with the pedals doubling the left hand to start with. It sounds the same! It's also easier in that you will also be able to play the hymn without pedals if you want to. You should be learning some simple pieces with an independent pedal, and the independence will be easier to develop with these. Later on you will then be able to play hymns in different ways.

                          There are lots of suitable pieces in the Stainer book, but you will find more interesting ones in more modern tutors. I am very keen on the Roger Davis one, though it's expensive.

                          There are a lot of helpful books edited by Ann Marsden Thomas. You could try this one (https://www.musicroom.com/product-de...rgan-book-two/) to get some easy pieces with simple pedal parts which would help you develop. (There are many other books edited by her which you can find by googling.

                          If you're serious about playing the organ - don't waste your talent! "Noodling" or "messing about on the organ" is fun for the player, but isn't likely to give pleasure to a congregation or audience in the early stages and certainly isn't a substitute for proper practice.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Leisesturm View Post
                            You need to learn your scales, chords and arpeggio's (though arpeggio's are more useful to pianists)
                            I started learning all the major and minor arpeggios. I know the Ab, Eb, F, C, G, D, A, E, and B major scale and I practice I, IV, V I progressions in certain keys.

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                            • #29
                              Eddy,

                              It's good to read your post #28 and learn what you have been working on. I'll chime in with the others and reinforce my previous post #10 about getting a teacher. I made the most progress when I began serious organ lessons with a qualified teacher. One of the most rewarding things for a musician is preparing for a lesson and being able to show your teacher how much you have learned in a week's time or since your last assignment. Think of it as having a personal coach as in sports or the Olympics. You have to have a good one to win!
                              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


                              • #30
                                Hi Eddy, I fully agree with Leisesturm, Peterboroughdiapason and lcid: get a teacher!

                                You really are talented, but it needs to be developed.
                                I like your enthousiasm and imagination (really, I like it very much). But as the others already said, it is noodling around. This way you progression wil be slow, if ever real progression is made.

                                Again: look for a teacher and don't waste your talent!

                                All the best, Dutchy

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