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Opinion on my pedal playing

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  • Opinion on my pedal playing

    So, I have not been on for a while. Here is why.

    I was busy practicing organ. That's it. I've actually improved a LOT.

    I would like an opinion on my pedal playing, which I have been practicing. A little background. In my church, there is a hymn, called "Master, The Tempest is Raging." Its Hymn 105 in the hymnbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is my FAVORITE hymn.

    What do you think of my pedal playing for this piece? Can it use improvement?

    Good to be back here on this forum,


  • #2
    Sounds great! Congratulations on improving... I can definitely tell!

    I don't have any suggestions except for that it would be good for you to play on some "real" pedals (or those more standard to church organs). That way you can get the feel and start incorporating some more heel action.

    And a lovely tune as well!

    “I play the notes as they are written (well, I try), but it is God who makes the music.” - Johann Sebastian Bach
    Organs I Play:
    - Home: VPO Compiled from Allen 2110 parts
    - Church: M.P. Moller 1951 (Relocated 2015) 3 manual, 56 stop, 38 ranks (Opus 8152)


    • gtc
      gtc commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree, sounds great. I would suggest also getting used to playing with shoes on.

  • #3
    Yeah, that’s the one drawback to this awesome organ. It doesn’t have the type of pedals I am used to playing. My old Hammond Regent, (bit the dust,) did have that. I normally try to do heel action as well as toe, but it is difficult on this home organ, because of the way the pedals are.

    Maybe I’ll talk to my bishop and see if I can practice on the church organ sometime. I know THAT organ has the pedals you are talking about.

    As for shoes, I don’t have organ shoes, yet. Trying to get my size and order some when I have the money.



    • #4
      Nice work! Here are a couple thoughts:

      SHOES - Don't have to be "Organ Shoes," as long as they are light and have a sole that is no wider than your foot (otherwise you start to play more pedals than you intended). Same material on heel and toe, so you have the same feeling on the pedals, no matter which part of your shoe is making contact. Soft enough that they bend with your foot; sturdy enough to walk in. Heel height recommended so you can span a third - that gap in front of the heel will prevent the middle note from playing.

      TIMING - If you don't mind some pickier criticism, here's an idea. Occasionally, your pedal note is a teeny, tiny bit behind. It's inevitable that a sliver of time is required to move your foot or to repeat a note. (Except for alternating feet, or doing heel-toe scalar passages.) If you do need time to move between notes, shave the sliver of time off the previous note, rather than the following note. Leaving the first note a bit early is better than arriving at the second note a bit late. (I'm being really picky here, because your rhythm is so clean, but it's still worth considering.)

      Some pianists have issues with pedaling because they are accustomed to lifting the foot on the beat, then bringing it back down quickly after the beat. Not sure if that applies here.

      On the organ, it's important to put the foot down on the beat, which means that any lifting of the foot happens before the beat.

      - You look relaxed, which is important.
      - Your feet aren't 'searching' for pedals, which is great.
      - And although it's preferred to be able to practice on a pedalboard similar to your church, you are learning to accommodate different situations, which is valuable on its own.
      - I haven't heard that hymn in ages. Nice tempo and nice registration!
      Last edited by regeron; 07-01-2021, 05:15 PM.


      • #5
        Overall, this looks pretty confident.
        You could make your live a bit easier in some parts of the hymn. I've seen you doing some good alternating between feet, but in some bars you're not doing it. For example, from 00:27 in the video, your left foot does all the work - if you had the right foot on the swell pedal, this would make sense. But if you don't, let the right foot help. C: left foot, D: right foot, G: left food, C: right foot.
        Also, from 00:49 you could play the first C with your left foot (as you do), then the second one with the right foot and your left foot is free for the next note, the G. You wouldn't have to do so much "jumping" with your left foot.
        The way you're doing it isn't "wrong", it's just that I think both feet could do their equal share of the work. 😉


        • Philip Powell
          Philip Powell commented
          Editing a comment
          This has always been my number one issue. I basically have one foot per octave on the pedals since I always have the swell pedal going. For Bach, it’s not at all helpful though since his stuff is usually played with no swell pedal and the pedal lines are very active.

      • #6
        Originally posted by Jnicholes View Post
        Yeah, that’s the one drawback to this awesome organ. It doesn’t have the type of pedals I am used to playing. My old Hammond Regent, (bit the dust,) did have that. I normally try to do heel action as well as toe, but it is difficult on this home organ, because of the way the pedals are.

        Don't feel too bad about the pedals. Some of Bach's organs had pedals you couldn't use heels on either–unless you do it as you are. For that reason, some recommend using a "toes only" approach to playing certain Bach pieces. Also, in England, not much was written for pedals until the 19th century because many of their organs either didn't have pedals, or they were diminutive in nature as well.

        Keep up the good work! Everyone who has posted so far has given great advice.

        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)
        • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos


        • #7

          Sounds great, and congratulations on the hard work. Believe me, you play better than a great many of the church organists I know and deal with in my service business, and if you keep improving you will be one of the best in time. I didn't get serious about playing the organ until I was past 40 years old, and once I began practicing and working on my technique, especially pedaling, I found myself improving rapidly. So I really can't say anything critical about your playing, but I'd echo some of the comments above:

          (1) Do work on using your feet as "partners" rather than simply using the left foot on low notes and right foot on high notes. You'll be surprised how much easier it is to play a bass line when you "teach" your feet to work together, alternating when needed, or switching from toe to heel. Watch videos on youtube of organists whose feet are shown in a separate video window and observe their method. Paul Fey is a young organist I enjoy hearing and watching, as well as Richard McVeigh. Many others are making similar videos that feature their pedaling. (Both those guys play in socks most of the time, which is my own preferred footwear!)

          (2) As someone else said, it's important in hymns to play the pedal note right on the beat, so play very slowly when working this out, making sure the pedal key goes down at the exact same time as the corresponding manual keys. This will be aided considerably by working on #1 -- alternating the feet, which naturally lets your feet respond more quickly and more on the beat.

          But mainly, just keep practicing and enjoying the organ, especially hymns! And it doesn't hurt a bit to go back and forth between different kinds of pedal boards. It probably sharpens your skills to do that. Just try to develop a good technique for each different pedal board, and smooth articulate playing will come more and more naturally to you.
          *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!



          • #8
            Thank you all for the advice! I have a follow-up question.

            As some of you have said, I need to learn to have my feet work together. However, I’m noticing that when I play the pedals, it’s difficult for my right foot to get to the lower octave of the pedal board. Same with the left foot, it has trouble getting to the upper octave of the pedal board.

            This is why I had my left foot do most of the work on some parts, and the right foot do most of the work on other parts. My feet couldn’t reach.

            If I am on the organ, in the same position I was when I played the hymn, The highest my left foot can go is the upper octave F on the pedals. My right foot can go down to B on the lower octave of the pedals.

            Is it possible I am doing something wrong? Should I be able to reach farther with both feet?


            • Philip Powell
              Philip Powell commented
              Editing a comment
              I was taught to keep my feet together and then swing my feet to where they need to be. I guess this would allow for you to play multiple octaves of the pedalboard with both feet easily. I never took the advice though.

            • regeron
              regeron commented
              Editing a comment
              jbird604's comment about the range of notes required is well taken. But here are a couple exceptions:
              - When I first started playing the organ, it was on the Hammond Spinet at church. It only had 12 or 13 short pedals, so I had to reach down past the F he mentions.
              - Now that I'm more experienced, it's sometimes fun to play the bass line for certain verses in pedal octaves. I get bored easily. LOL - but it can also add extra energy to the hymn.
              - I also give myself the freedom to go into the bottom octave for hymns in C, D, E-flat and E. A nice low, bottom-octave note can finish the hymn nicely.

            • Philip Powell
              Philip Powell commented
              Editing a comment
              For the last stanza(s) or even the entire last verse of a hymn, I always play an octave lower.