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Correct method of hymn playing?

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  • Correct method of hymn playing?

    I've been taking organ lessons for about a month now (years of keyboard experience before that) and am progressing nicely. I am getting into hymn playing, however, and am having a tough time getting a consistent answer to my question of how to correctly play hymns.
    I've read a lot of different ideas, like the bass should be tied from strong to weak beats (but not over bars), when voices exchange a note it should be tied, the tenor should never be tied, etc etc etc. My teacher (who I respect and believe she knows what shes doing) said that she doesn't really tie many notes at all. I somehow feel this is wrong though, am I wrong?
    Can anyone give me a rundown of the correct way to play hymns? Maybe recommend a book that is considered the standard on correct hymn playing? Thanks so much.

  • #2
    Headies,

    Try viewing the following threads:I trust that will get you started.

    The Forum search tool is a good resource for you. I just entered "hymn playing" (with the quotes) and received over 100 results. I'm sure I could also have entered "playing hymns" and would have received many more results.

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

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    • #3
      Hello Headies,

      Two points:
      1) There is no single "correct" way of playing hymns; there are SEVERAL correct ways, based on the style of the hymn, style of the organ, type of service, size and demographic of the congregation, etc.

      2) Start by learning ONE of those correct styles, and as you progress, add other "Correct" styles so that when you sit down to accompany a hymn, you can make a quick assessment of the situation and draw on your internal menu or library of playing styles to choose one of the ones that will be most inspiring and helpful to those participating in the service.

      Michael's suggestion to look at other threads is a good one.

      It's an enjoyable adventure. Enjoy!

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      • #4
        May I suggest: the only correct way of hymn playing is that which best encourages the congregation's singing For some occasions and hymns, legato is in order. Some days they need a reminder that this hymn is, indeed, a happy song, and a detached treatment seems to get them in the mood. And letting them do a verse without organ will often encourage them to "step up" and recall that this is their song, not the organ's.

        That said, I completely second regeron's post above.

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        • #5
          Here's my take.

          1. Remember that the text is important, and should guide your registration and changes in registration.
          2. Articulate the melody as necessary to lead the singing. Pay special attention to the punctuation in the text, and lift all voices as those are the natural places for singers to take breath
          3. Play the interior voices as you like, detached or legato (usually a mixture, sometimes with tied notes).
          4. Play the bass line legato, and tie notes that are repeated. Lift tied notes (or separate the legato) only at punctuation in the text.

          These "rules of thumb" are not always true, but will be a good starting place more often than not.

          Johann Sebastian Bach

          (at Home) Conn 645 Theater Deluxe
          (at Church) 1836 E. & G.G. Hook Bros, Opus 26

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