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.

Feel free to browse and search this blog. It was started in January 2010 and while new posts aren't added very often, this blog contains a wealth of information and is a wonderful resource for all organists. If you're a new reader, you can find the first lesson here: Before We Begin: Acquiring the Essentials. Also, please "like" the corresponding facebook page, which is updated more often. A link is provided on the right sidebar, or you can click here.

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lesson 18: Seeking More Instruction

Click here for Lesson 17: More on Stops, Couplers, Pistons, and Combination Action

Today's lesson is a little different from normal. I'm striving to teach every aspect of organ playing possible through my lessons, articles, and Sunday songs. BYU also has a number of training resources, which I'd like to share with you today.

Make sure you read to the end. The BYU Organ Workshop will be explained at the very bottom of the post, followed by a homework assignment.

Main BYU Website

The Organ Study at BYU Website is www.organ.byu.edu. Once there, you can click on "LDS Organists and Teachers" to find organ instructors in many areas.

Books and Software from BYU

Hymn Studies for Organists (Belnap). Visit http://creativeworks.byu.edu/catalog and then enter “hymn studies” in the search box and click “enter”. ($15.95 + shipping)

Three-Stave Hymn Accompaniments (Cundick). Visit http://creativeworks.byu.edu/catalog and then enter “three-stave” in the search box and click “enter”. ($10 + shipping) Also available for free download on the Internet http://www.organ.byu.edu/3StaveHymns/index.htm

OrganTutor (Cook) (visit www.organtutor.byu.edu and then follow the specific links)
  • OrganTutor Organ 101 Complete
  • Computer tutorial on CD-ROM (for PC and Mac) and Workbook ($69.50 + shipping)
  • Computer tutorial and printable Workbook (pdf files) on Internet ($20-$30 per year)
  • Computer tutorial only (no Workbook)
  • On CD-ROM (for PC) ($50 + shipping)
  • On Internet ($25 per year; $15 per 6 months)
  • Workbook only (no computer tutorial)
  • Printed ($19.50 + shipping)
  • Printable on Internet ($6)
  • Organ 101 Introduction (free selected lessons)
  • On CD-ROM (for PC) or on Internet
Organ Courses Through BYU Independent Study and the Internet

Visit www.organ.byu.edu and then click BYU Independent Study Students and follow the specific links.
  • Music 399R Sections (Levels) 1-6 (courses offering college credit)
  • Organ 71 Beginning organ for Pianists with little or no previous formal organ training, or who need help in applying what they have learned in their organ playing.
  • Certification track (a $30 non-credit version of Music 399R Level 1 that offers a certificate)
  • Self-study track (a free non-credit version of Music 399R Level 1 that does not offer a certificate)
  • Organ 72 Review of basics for those with organ training, but who would benefit from a review of basic legato organ technique, repertoire, hymn playing, and registration. Should be able to sight-read single-line melodies.
  • Certification track (a $28 non-credit version of Music 399R Level 2 that offers a certificate)
  • Self-study track (a free non-credit version of Music 399R Level 2 that does not offer a certificate)
The New LDS Organist (A free “quickstart” organ course in 12 podcasts) Visit www.organ.byu.edu/newldsorganist

Creative Hymn Playing Techniques (Music 116R podcasts/audio lessons) visit www.organ.byu.edu/116podcasts.htm

Organ Workshops

The BYU Young Musicians Summerfestival (for ages 14-18, June 13-19, 2010) http://summerfestival.byu.edu

The BYU Organ Workshop (for adults, August 3-6, 2010) http://organworkshop.byu.edu

The BYU Organ Workshop

The BYU Organ Workshop is an intensive four-day program designed for organ skill-building for all organ levels and is usually held the first week of August from Tuesday through Friday with a preworkshop seminar on Monday. Enhance your organ-playing skills for your own enjoyment, for church service, or for teaching. Discover and improve your talents and proficiency as you learn valuable techniques and tips from skilled instructors. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced organist, the workshop has much in store for you. Over 80 classes are offered with customized instruction and supervised practice for your specific level. Organ tours, concerts, exhibits, and a hymn sing are also included.

The price is a bit steep, but it's worth every penny. Currently the fees are:


$250 (April 3–July 17)
$275 (after July 17)


Campus Housing, $100 (double occupancy)
Private Organ Instruction, $25 (one 25–minute session)
Private Organ Instruction, $40 (one 50–minute session)
Instruction Placement Audition, $10 (available only on Monday)

If this interests you, I recommend saving up for it. If you can't make it this year, save for next summer. The BYU Organ Workshop is an extension of the organ portion of the Workshop on Church Music, which ran at BYU between 1979 and 1999. The BYU Organ Workshop started as its own program in 2002, and is in its ninth year of operation.


Visit www.organ.byu.edu/3StaveHymns/index.htm and download a one of the simpler 3 Stave Hymns. Mark it as explained in lessons 14, 15, and 16. Choose an appropriate registration for each verse as taught in lessons 4 and 5.

Practice slowly,with a metronome, following the steps for learning a hymn outlined in lesson 9.

Continue working on previous homework assignments that haven't been mastered, and continue to practice the hymns and prelude pieces that you have learned in the past.

If you are interested, seek out a private, certified organ instructor or utilize the resources available through BYU (outlined above).

In Conclusion

There are a number of resources out there that will help you learn how to properly play the organ. While an organ teacher with AGO certifications is ideal, the OrganTutor software is amazing, and the BYU Independent Study program can also help you achieve your goals. The BYU Workshop never disappoints (quite the contrary, actually--everyone raves about it), and Don Cook's podcast is excellent as well.

My blog exists as one of many resources. Thank you so much for reading!

Continue on to Lesson 19.

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