Welcome to The LDS Organist Blog

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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Monday, April 19, 2010

Lesson 13: Thumb glissando and a new hymn

Click here for Lesson 12: Prelude and Postlude.

If you remember from Lesson 8: The Manuals, the thumb glissando differs from playing a finger glissando with the thumb--it occurs from white key to white key, or white key to black key.

The Thumb Glissando

Alena Hall shared this technique in a handout:
When the notes are moving inward, the organist plays a white key with the tip of their thumb. While continuing to hold the key down, the organist slides the hand forward in order to continue playing the note with the base of the thumb. The wrist should drop to aid in this process. This frees the tip of the thumb to play the next note, which occurs by lifting the wrist and rocking to the tip of the thumb. When the notes are moving outward, the opposite occurs. The tip of the thumb plays the white key, with the wrist high. In order to play the adjacent note, the wrist drops and plays the key with the base of the thumb.

More detailed information is available to preview here, at Google books.

Here is a visual example:

If you are interested, additional exercises are located on Page 15 of Don Cook's The New LDS Organist supporting materials packet.

A New Hymn

Hymn #11, "What Was Witnessed in the Heavens," contains a few thumb glissandos. Here is an example of one:

Again, I am using Carol Dean's Hymns from the L.D.S. Hymnal Marked for the Organ, mentioned here.

This hymn utilizes direct fingering, redistributing the inner part, finger crossing, finger substitution, finger glissando (the left thumb), thumb glissando, and independent movement. Essentially, every technique that was mentioned in Lesson 8 is found in this hymn.


Using the 15- or 7-Step Method to Learning a Hymn, covered in Lesson 10, learn hymn 11, What Was Witnessed in the Heavens? Practice slowly, never faster than you can play perfectly. Gradually increase the tempo until it can be played at tempo (69-80 bpm).

Read through the text and ensure that your breathing is properly placed.

Get a feel for the mood of the hymn, and choose effective registration for each verse. Practice flawless registration changes between verses.

In Conclusion

With this lesson, basic organ technique has now been taught. In the next lesson we'll break away from Carol Dean's book and start learning how to figure out our own hymn markings. Continue on to Lesson 14: Marking a Hymn, Part 1.

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