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, July 19, 2010

Lesson 20: Transcribing Piano Music for the Organ

Click here for Lesson 19: Registering the Organ for Choir Accompaniment

A month ago I shared the first guest lesson by Carol Dean, on how to register the organ for choir accompaniment. Today I'll share the second lesson, which shows how to transcribe piano music for the organ.

If you have ever tried to play a piano accompaniment on the organ, you've probably realized that changes need to be made. Here, Carol Dean shares some ways to do this.


Octaves often become single notes, in both the treble and bass clefs. If needed, add higher-pitched stops for additional brilliance in manuals. In the pedals, using 16' and 8' stops automatically gives bass octave doubling.

In general, you will play the upper notes of bass octaves and the lower notes of treble octaves.

Bass Lines

Pedals do not always have to be used. If a bass line is simple and well defined, it may be played in its entirety.

Play a very rapid bass line on the manuals with the 16' pedal only on the accented beat.


Thin out the chord texture by putting chords in "open" position and getting rid of "doublings." Remember that when using 4' and 2' stops, doublings occur automatically.

Doubling piano

Doubling organ


A compromise must be obtained between too much repetition and too much tying. Sustained block chords would rob a piece of its inherent motion, but repeating every note would result in too choppy an effect.

Repetition piano

Repetition organ


Arpeggios are especially problematic when transcribed for the organ.

Arpeggio piano

Use a louder registration for right hand than left hand:

Arpeggio organ 2

Or this:

Arpeggio organ 2

For a lighter sound:

Arpeggio organ 3


Although rare, tremolos do occur occasionally. Sustain the outer voices, and let the inner voices do the repercussing.

Tremolo piano

Tremolo organ

Thank you again, Carol, for a wonderful lesson!


Using the choir piece you selected in lesson 19, modify it as outlined in this lesson for the organ, then begin practicing it, making additional modifications as necessary.

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, so that you don't lose what you've gained.

In Conclusion

In the Church, many treat the organ and piano as the same instrument. In reality they differ greatly, as this blog constantly strives to teach. The tools taught in this lesson will help you play pieces that were written for the piano effectively on the organ.

Continue on to lesson 21.

1 comment:

  1. Today I'll share the second lesson, which shows how to transcribe piano music for the organ.Smith Berry