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!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lesson 25: Leave the piano hands at the piano

Click here for Lesson 24: Creative Introductions for "Now Let Us Rejoice"

Hands at piano
Image Source

I realized as I've reviewed past posts that I never specifically showed what proper hand position is at the organ! Today's lesson will cover this important topic.

Proper Positioning at the Organ
First let's review information that was spread out in the first series of lessons.

When sitting at the organ, keep the head, neck and upper torso aligned as if you were standing. Some like to think their head being pulled towards the ceiling by a string.

Stay relaxed and flexible through then neck, shoulders, upper arms, lower arms, and into the wrists. Keep your elbows close to the body.

Proper Hand Position

According to Don Cook:

"The forearm and back of the hand are aligned in a level forward-back plane, with no sharp protrusion of the knuckles. The back of the hand is level from side to side, guiding the fingertips into the keys with no tipping from left to right. The fingers curve naturally, and the fingertips rest naturally on the keys." I could have lifted my wrist a bit more. (I didn't realize how hard it was to take a picture with one hand while holding the other in proper position!)

Curved hand position

"Nails must be cut short enough to allow fingertips--not nails--to contact the key."

Short nails, curved fingers

Additionally, you should play with your fingers in front of the black keys whenever possible.

Here are some incorrect examples:

Playing between the black keys instead of in front of them:
Playing into the black keys

Sunken hand:
Sunken hand

Straight knuckle/collapsed finger joint:
Straight knuckle

Flat hand:
Flat hand

Video Examples

Many (but not all) of the Sunday Songs I have shared demonstrate proper hand positioning. Here are a few that I like. Please note that the techniques used are not necessarily the legato technique that I've been teaching on this blog.

I love watching Clay Christiansen perform:
Watch how Frederick Hohman pulls his hands back in front of the black keys when he isn't playing accidentals: You can see the curvature of Linda Margett's fingers: Homework Work to improve your posture at the organ, especially as it pertains to hand position. Have someone take a video of your hands and wrists as you play, then watch it to see what they look like. You might be surprised--I certainly was when I started this blog! Once you know what you're doing wrong, work to fix those things that are incorrect, then repeat the process as you continue to improve. In Conclusion As I've really focused on my hand position and keeping my arms and wrists still so that my fingers can move more easily, it's become much easier to play and perfect my technique. Proper posture and positioning at the organ really is essential to playing the organ properly.

Good luck!


  1. Great addition videos not working

    1. The videos require Adobe Flash Player. I just checked today and when I enable Flash, they do work for me.