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, December 28, 2010

Manual-Only Hymns and Transformations

Have you seen these "emergency preparedness kits" for beginning organists? They were transcribed and edited by trained organists and should be an excellent resource for all Church organists.

Manual-Only Hymns for Organists

Manual-Only Hymns for Organ

This set of transcriptions is intended to help new organists play with confidence and accuracy. In the preface we read that, "This book makes it possible for a person with modest keyboard skills to quickly become proficient in hymn accompaniment, as well as opening the door to continuing improvement in organ playing." The introduction further states, "This collection of simplified hymns is intended only to introduce organ playing to the pianist.... The appendix contains a list of ways to continue training with the help of others or on your own. We strongly encourage LDS organists to magnify their calling by further developing their organ-playing skills."

This edition reduces the number of voices from four to three, with fingerings added to help introduce organ technique. Some instructional information is also included.

Transformations

Transformations

Transformations contains easy additions to create simple preludes and postludes. The purpose of this edition is to provide musical material, which, when added to the three-voice hymns shared above converts hymns into simple and beautiful preludes and postludes. These introductions and codas are intended to be played without pedals.

Some registration information is included, as well as suggestions for performance.


If you haven't yet seen or acquired these publications, I highly recommend following the above links. They are free online and can be printed at will. Even accomplished organists may wish to use these arrangements occasionally as a simple prelude and/or postlude, or in addition to other arrangements.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Song: Joy to the World

Diane Bish plays her arrangement of Joy to the World at the Onze Lieve Vrowe Church in Mechelen, Belgium.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hallelujah!

"And [Simeon] came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
"Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
"For mine eyes have seen thy salvation."

We Three Kings

"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
"Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."
"And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."

Adeste Fideles

"And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them."

Ave Maria

"And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child."
"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."

Away in a Manger

"And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger."

Angels We Have Heard on High

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
"And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
"And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Silent Night

"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."

Christmas

Please join me starting this evening and throughout the day tomorrow as I present the Christmas story through music.

Until then, enjoy this show-stopping virtuoso organ solo, "Good King Wenceslas," performed and arranged by Richard Elliott:



Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wassail Salsa

Enjoy this video that the Allen Organ Company posted on YouTube:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Getting the brain out of the way

For the past month I have been preparing for my first official performance on the organ. I've accompanied wards and branches before, but never played a solo in public, not counting prelude and postlude. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to ensure that my technique, notes, and tempo were flawless. I practiced hours each day and felt I was making good progress. Three days before the concert, I left my home organ to practice on my church's organ. That evening I recorded my progress and was unable to play without making major mistakes. When my memory card filled up I was able to once again play the pieces perfectly.

That night, on my facebook page I asked, "How do you get your brain out of the way during performances? I rarely play for anyone other then me and my instructor, and when I need to perform I'm so analytical that I mess everything up. I just want my brain to shut off and let the music come out the way I've practiced it. Any tips (other than playing more in public)?"

Some good advice was shared, including:

"Tell yourself, 'It will be good enough,' and it will!"

"I try to shift the focus off of me. I think about the people who are in the audience and try to play well for them, or the organizer of the event or whoever asked me to play and try to play well for them. It helps me to remember I'm playing for other's enjoyment and not just for my own pride or glory."

I was also referred to the 2008 BYU organ workshop keynote address by Parley L. Belnap called Controlling our Thoughts.

Basically, I needed to tell myself that I had done everything humanly possible to prepare, and whatever happened, happened. As President Monson is fond of saying, "When the time for decision [or in this case, performance] arrives, the time for preparation is past.” I had put in the preparation, and I just needed to trust my efforts and let go so that I could enjoy the ride. I ended up playing my pieces for a branch and a ward prior to the concert, and in both services the pieces went very well and I truly added to the spirit of the meeting. I was playing to worship and enhance worship, it showed, and my congregation sang like I'd never heard them sing before! It was wonderful.

Finally it was time for the concert. There was a mix-up with scheduling so we didn't start for another 35 minutes. It was a lot of fun to listen to and sing with each organist. The pipe organ didn't have any programmable pistons, so we relied on the other organists to change our stops. When it was my turn, I started my hymn a little too fast, in my exuberance to have my turn on the organ, but it went well. When it was time for the final verse, I had a few people changing stops for me--unplanned! I got a little frazzled and not only came in a little late, but totally flubbed the first part of that verse. Surprisingly, it didn't matter! I had a great time, and laughed it off and my husband said that no one even noticed. (I don't know if I believe it, but I bet no one remembers today.)

The audience was appreciative, it was an enjoyable evening, and we played to serve others and to celebrate the Christmas season. Somehow that was enough.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Song: Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella for Organ

Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella for Organ, arr. Keith Chapman. Played by Rob Stefanussen.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Practice Tip: The Metronome

Metronome
Image Source


Have you ever found yourself practicing a piece, but feeling like you were just treading water and not making any progress? Don't forget the metronome! If the piece is long, you can segment it into smaller pieces. Use the metronome to help you make measured progress.

First, set the metronome at a speed that is comfortable for you to play with no mistakes. You can set the click to the quarter note, eighth note, or even sixteenth note. Play the section or piece, then gradually increase the speed, making sure you play perfectly every time. When you are done with your practice session, write the tempo at the top of your piece so you know where to come back to it.

Before you know it, you'll have made great progress, and you will have practiced the piece perfectly so many times that when it's time to perform, playing it well will be second nature to you!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Joy to the World Introduction

Look what I have to share with you, today! Just in time for Christmas, I'm sharing a slightly different introduction for Joy to the World:

Here is the arrangement, free to you over at Google Docs.
201 Introduction

Enjoy!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Song: Go Tell it on the Mountain

Richard Elliot's arrangement of Go Tell it on the Mountain. You can purchase the sheet music here:
organmusicdownloads.com