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The purpose of this blog is to help pianists learn to become true organists. Many individuals believe that if you play the piano you can play the organ, but the instruments differ greatly. While this blog is specifically geared towards members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, much of the information shared can be utilized by all. I hope that the information I share here will help you become an effective organist in your ward, stake, or other congregation.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review: Nine Hymn Studies by D. Kim Croft

Nine Hymn Studies

Nine Hymn Studies by D. Kim Croft is often recommended for beginning organ students. Each simple arrangement has complete fingerings and pedaling already marked.

Israel Israel God is Calling

According to the publisher, Jackman Music:
The nine hymns included in this book have very easy pedaling. The pieces range from medium easy to easy to play. Fingerings and pedal markings are also included.

Hymns included are:
"A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief"
"Abide With Me"
"How Gentle God's Commands"
"How Great the Wisdom and the Love"
"In Humility, Our Savior"
"Israel, Israel God Is Calling"
"Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee"
"Oh How Lovely Was the Morning"
"Sweet is the Work"
I have always loved these hymn arrangements. As a beginning organ student, they were simple enough for me to play well. As a more accomplished organist they are beautiful enough that I still include them in my prelude music.

"A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief"

While I enjoy all of these arrangements, of the nine this arrangement is my least favorite. With a time signature of 6/8, the pedaling is very simple, alternating between an Ab and Eb throughout the piece. The right hand plays the melody and left hand provides a nice counter-melody. I would like to see something slightly different in the pedals, but it is a nice, simple piece.

"Abide With Me"

With long sustained pedal tones, this arrangement only changes the bass note three times. A very reverent piece, the counter-melody beautifully balances the melody and pedal and provides a wonderful prelude piece.

"How Gentle God's Commands"

With only four pedal changes, this piece is simple and beautiful. This piece uses the heel on one beat, and, again, has a beautiful counter-melody.

"How Great the Wisdom and the Love"

I would classify this arrangement as one of the more difficult pieces in this collection, but it is by far my favorite. The pedaling is just slightly more advanced than the previous pieces, but it also has a beautiful manual-only section with tied notes that can be a bit tricky to properly execute on the organ. This piece also contains a key change.

"In Humility, Our Savior"

With the melody bouncing from right hand to left, this piece requires hands to change manuals three times. The bass is a sustained note for over half of the song, then moves around a bit during the latter-middle section.

"Israel, Israel God Is Calling"

This piece is another of my favorites. The bass note changes almost every measure (see photo above), and the counter-melody is beautiful.

"Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee"

Again, this piece has very simple pedaling which is balanced by a moving counter-melody in the left hand. It's a lovely reverent, reflective piece.

"Oh How Lovely Was the Morning"

This is another of the more difficult pieces in this collection. The melody is played by the left hand while the right hand plays a moving line peppered with staccatos. The bass line moves around a little bit as well.

"Sweet is the Work"

With simple pedaling and a moving counter-melody, this arrangement is fun to play and beautiful to listen to.

In Conclusion

You can't go wrong with this book of arrangements. They are beautiful in their simplicity, and with fingerings and pedaling already written in, this book is ideal for a beginning organist.

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate your review and comments. These pieces were written when I was in the process of completing my masters in organ performance at BYU, and I had a graduate fellowship with Parley Belnap, my organ instructor. Bro. Belnap asked me to compose some simple settings of hymn that were easy enough that after only one or two lessons, a student could be playing something that just didn't sound like exercises. Not too long after I'd left Provo, Bro. Belnap tracked me down at a temporary job I was filling in Manhattan to ask if I'd give permission for the pieces to be published. Of course, I was thrilled, but at that time, we only thought they'd be used as a pedagogical tool. Imagine my surprise when I learned they would be used as prelude music for actual worship services! That isn't really what I had in mind, but I'm glad they're being used, nevertheless.

    Over the years, Bro. Belnap - and others - have encouraged me to produce some more pieces similar to those in the Nine Hymn Studies, but perhaps just a bit more difficult, and of sufficient length to be more appropriately used for prelude. I've been working on that type of collection now for several years, but have found it difficult to find the necessary time. Hopefully, sometime during this year I'll have it completed.

    Again, thanks for your review, and thanks for the blog - it looks to be a great resource.

    D. Kim Croft

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