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.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Making Time for Practice


One of the challenges for new organists is finding time to practice on an organ. Most church organists do not own an organ, and need to travel to the church in order to practice, which can usually only happen once to a few times a week.

Practicing Without an Organ

Before I purchased my home organ, I did a lot of practicing on my piano and on my inexpensive electronic keyboard (which has full-sized keys). I was able to practice all of my manual technique on these keyboards. The sound was not the same, however I was still able to work on my attacks and releases, fingerings, etc. without having to go to the church and practice on the organ.

I would also sit at the piano, chair, or couch and visualize the pedalboard on my floor, then work out the pedaling and practice playing the pedals on my carpet. Mental practice can be very effective, especially when combined with the physical motions.

I would then play the piano while moving my feet as if I were at the organ. So much can be accomplished at home.

When to Practice


My favorite time to practice at the church is in the evenings when other activities are going on. I'm not alone in the building, but the chapel is almost always empty. I'm able to spend a couple of hours working on registration and technique, learning hymns, and finalizing everything for the service, without having to worry about unlocking the building or wondering who might show up when I'm there alone.

I've also been known to stay after church on Sundays and practice the organ (when it doesn't conflict with ward choir or another ward's meetings), or show up an hour or two before sacrament meeting begins to practice.

How Often to Practice

Ideally, I would spend two or more hours every day practicing the organ, so that I can work on hymns (including preludes, postludes, free harmonizations, etc.), "classical" pieces, and technique. Realistically, however, I strive for five hours a week at the minimum. You'll quickly learn how much time you'll need to practice in order to play with confidence and at the proper tempo for your worship service. Don't forget: do not underestimate the effectiveness of mental practicing!

Figure Out What Works for You

Ultimately, you will need to figure out what works the best for you. If you're up early, practicing in the morning makes a lot of sense. If your children are at school all day, practicing during the day works well. If you have young children or work full-time, practicing after they are in bed or after dinner might be the best decision for you.

Coming up with a practice schedule will help you make playing the organ a priority in your life. Such a schedule does not have to be rigid, but can serve as a guideline as you plan your week.

1 comment:

  1. Hi
    Thanks for advice on this subject. I practice on my Clavinova at the moment but hope to get a home pipe organ sometime, and I find that the piano is great for practicing scales, arpeggios and fingering studies. I found an old organ book I had "Novello Organ Primer" by Stainer its excellent for legato studies and some tips for hymns.

    I noticed that on the Internet that www.thomann.de is selling midi pedalboards I think but they are expensive. It would give one an ability to practice but I think its better to pick up a used digital pipeless organ for under $2000.

    I'm really impressed with Viscount organs. We have dealer here in Edinburgh Scotland. I'm really impressed with the new Physis technology,you can hear them on YouTube if you search. I love the content that you are putting up on the blog.