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!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Real Life: Playing After a Break

I received this question from Paul:
I play for my ward and am having some problems.  I practice the hymns and do alright for the opening and sacrament hymns.  However, the problems come when I play the intermediate and closing hymns.  I sometimes stumble thru the first few notes.  By the end of the 1st verse I am doing fine.  My organ teacher says I should just play the manuals at first.

How do you get your head into playing after having to resting?  do you have any suggestions?

I think you are experiencing a common problem for organists.  I do have several suggestions that might help.

Write in Fingerings

The first is simply to make sure you use the same fingerings every time you play a piece.  Write them in and be consistent.  Muscle memory is so important to playing.  If you use the same fingerings every time you play, you will be more likely to play without mistakes.

Practice For Your Situation

This is the suggestion that came to my mind as soon as I read your email. If you are struggling with an aspect of playing, you need to practice that aspect.  In this case, you need to approach the organ "cold" and play the piece that you will play after a break.  As many times as possible, approach an organ, play the introduction and all the verses of the hymn through, then walk away.  This method is easier if you have a home organ.

If you do not have regular access to an organ in your home, or if your chapel is some distance from your house this can be difficult, but can be adapted.  When you practice, start your practice with an intermediate or closing hymn. In the middle of your practice session, take a break and walk around the building, use the restroom, get a drink, then return and play your problem hymn again.

You'll soon find playing after a break becomes easier.

Take a Moment to Think 

When you do approach the organ after a break in the service, take a moment to review the piece in your mind before beginning to play.  It's much better to delay the introduction a few seconds than to start before you are mentally ready.

Also, if it is an issue for you, get the brain out of the way.  Remember that your role is to facilitate worship, and that you are playing for the glory of God.  Try to make your playing be about Him, not you.  Ask for His help, and you will receive it.

Simplify the Introduction

Finally, if you would feel more comfortable, you can simplify the introduction using these techniques, and perhaps prolong it.  By the time the congregation begins singing, you should be sufficiently warmed up to play the hymn as you have practiced it.


I  believe by following these suggestions, you will soon come to the point where you play without stumbling, even after a long break.

Thanks for reading!  I hope these suggestions help.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Special at OrganMaster Shoes

It doesn't happen very often, but OrganMaster Shoes are on sale!  They are giving 15% OFF EVERYTHING in the store! 

PLUS, it's an extra 5% OFF our exclusive Organist's Tote.  That's 20% OFF your tote purchase!  I love my tote.

Check it out!

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Have you met Mrs. Middlejoy?

I was introduced to Mrs. Middlejoy one morning when Susan Call Hutchison called me with some questions about the organ for a children's book she was writing.  As a thank you, she sent me a copy of Mrs. Middlejoy and the Minister's Cat. I loved it and eagerly awaited the release of her next book, Mrs. Middlejoy and the Joyful Noise.

 
I thought it was great fun, and wanted to share it with you!  You can download this free book from Susan's website, MrsMiddlejoy.com.  Here's the direct link.  For my help, I was able to name the organist!  I named her after Carol Dean, who not only introduced me to the organ, but also teaches many organists in the Provo/Orem area and beyond.

As I prepared this blog post, I noticed that the Kindle version of Mrs. Middlejoy and the Haunted Churchyard is currently free.  I can't wait to read this one as well.  If you enjoy these stories, you might want to grab it before November 2nd!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Don't Forget: I'm on Facebook!

This blog exists mainly as a resource.  It's to be used more of a website than a blog.  Without a calling that allows me to play the organ on a regular basis, my focus isn't on the organ nearly as much as I'd like.

However, I do have a presence on facebook, where I post a bit more regularly.  Feel free to visit me there!  https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-LDS-Organist-Blog/334614664920

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Song: "Perpetuum Mobile for Pedals Alone"

Brink Bush performs "Perpetuum Mobile for Pedals Alone" by Wilhelm Middelschulte live at the Wilhelm Middelschulte Sesquicentennial Celebration. This program was presented by the Boston Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, April 13, 2013, at Church of the Advent, Boston, Massachusetts. The organ is an Aeolian-Skinner.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Song: Buxtehude's Prelude in d

Jens Korndoerfer plays Dietrich Buxtehude's Präludium in d, BuxWV 140 live during the Canadian International Organ Competition in October 2008 on the von Beckerath organ in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Montreal.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Song: Batalha de 6º Tom

Jens Korndoerfer plays Pedro de Araújos Batalha de 6º Tom at Basilique St. Nazaire,Carassonne, France, August 3, 2008.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday Song: Variations on "America"

Sixteen year old Charles Edward Ives composed this set of variations on "America (My Country 'Tis of Thee)" for organ in 1891. In 1948, E. Power Biggs contacted Ives inquiring if he had composed any organ music that Biggs might perform on his weekly radio program. After Biggs helped Ives recover this long-forgotten piece, he performed it on his July 4th broadcast that year, and the work was finally published in 1949.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Song: The Rejoicing

Richard Elliott plays his own arrangement of The Rejoicing, from Music for the Royal Fireworks  by George Frederic Handel.



Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Song: Summer from Vivaldi's Seasons

Happy SUMMER!

Yevgeniya Lisicyna (Riga) at Livadia-Fest 2009 Recorded live September 2009 Yalta, Ukraine plays A. Vivaldi's Seasons, Summer, Presto (III).

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Song: Fanfare for a Common Man

Aaron Copland's Fanfare for a Common Man, arranged by Brad Slocum, opens with Westminster's State Trumpet and finishes with full organ.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday Song: Bach Fugue BWV 552

Marcel Dupré plays Bach Fugue BWV 552 at St. Sulpice in 1955.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sunday Song: Using Glass Organ Pipes

Today's Sunday Song is a bit different.  It's more eye candy than ear candy, but I found the idea of glass organ pipes very intriguing and wanted to share.  Feel free to stop the video at 8:00:



Listen to the sound that glass pipes make.

The American flag rank of glass pipe organ pipes was created in response to the tragedy of the terrorist attack on the U.S. on September 11th, 2001. This series of 14 glass pipe organ pipes were made of glass using kilnworking and stained glass techniques and delicate pipe organ engineering. The pipes were innovated, designed, and created by a certified pipe organ builder and master craftsmen, Xaver Wilhelmy. He has created the first sets of glass pipe organ pipes in the world, and this is one of two existing glass organ pipe ranks in the world at this time. The series of pipes comes with a wooden base that contains the technical inner works of a pipe organ, and is controlled with a portable keyboard unit. Yes, the pipes actually play, they were professionally voiced and tuned by Wilhelmy.

The pipes took Wilhelmy and his crew 18 months to create from conception to completion in June 2004.

Monday, May 27, 2013

In Remembrance

Memorial Day Organ Prelude from Matthew Morrison on Vimeo.

Performed by Tom Leonard on the Hazel Wright Organ of the Crystal Cathedral.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Song: Triumphal March

Marko Hakanpää playing Geroge Frederick Broadhead's Triumphal March at the biggest organ in Finland: Lapua Cathedral (85 stops), built by Kangasalan Urkutehdas in 1938.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Song: Improvisation on America (from West-Side-Story)

Improvisation recorded live in concert 27th of April 2013 at the Nathanaelchurch in Berlin-Schöneberg.
At the Schuke-Pipe organ: Maria Scharwieß.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Seeking a Calling vs. Hiding Under a Bushel


I love to play for worship services!  Choosing effective prelude that prepares the congregation for worship, deciding how best to reflect the text of the hymns, and choosing registration that will support the congregation, but also reflects the hymn are things that I love to do.  There's a beautiful science and spirit about preparing adequately to accompany worship services.  It's my passion and I love it!

That said, I am not currently serving as ward organist, have not held that calling for over six years, and have only served in that capacity for a cumulative total of three years in my (almost) 20 years as an organist. As stake music chairman, I did accompany some stake meetings, taking care to also ask others to play as well.  (I'm a big believer in spreading the opportunities throughout the stake members as much as possible.)  I also took this opportunity to focus on my personal development through taking organ lessons, completing a level of BYU Organ Certification, serving in my local American Guild of Organists chapter, starting this blog to help others learn to play the organ, and preparing for AGO Certification.

However, I really missed having the opportunity to accompany on the organ on a regular basis!

After inquiring through as many sources as possible, I learned that temple organists are considered volunteer temple workers.  All I needed to do to be considered to play the organ in the temple was to meet with my Bishop and have him fill out the form he uses for volunteer temple workers!  I immediately did this, and after the necessary signatures were in place and it was sent to the temple, I was contacted by the supervisor of organists and put on a waiting list.  After almost a year, I was given a shift!  I play every-other week for an hour and a half, and I love it.

I was extended a release from my stake music chairman calling last June, and began playing in the temple the beginning of July.  It's been wonderful, and it has been my only church calling for almost a year.

Although I have longed to play the organ in my ward for years, I've contented myself with thoughts of:

"I shouldn't seek after a calling."
"I have all of this time to learn more about the organ without the stress of learning and preparing multiple hymns, preludes, and postludes each week."
"Those serving as organists in my ward might need this push to develop their talent, while I work on mine without a calling."
"I need to practice seeing the good in those currently serving as organists."
"The Lord knows what he is doing, and I really need to learn patience."
"I appreciate the rare opportunities I have to play more than I ever would if I was currently serving as ward organist."
"I now get to play in the temple and prepare patrons for temple worship, the crowning gift of mortal life. I never would have pursued this position if I were serving as ward organist."

After presenting at Super Saturday last month, and sharing so many great ideas on beautifying hymn accompaniment, I felt like I needed to stop hiding my light under a bushel and had the greatest desire to play the organ for worship services again!


Image Source

This situation leads me to a question I've pondered for years:  As members of the Church it is common understanding that we do not seek after callings; It is also scripture that we should not hide our light under a bushel.  In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where callings are extended from Priesthood leaders to those whom the Lord qualifies, not man, sometimes members with specific skills are not chosen to serve in callings which go along with their chosen field, developed talent, or greatest interests.  While I understand and accept this practice, we have also been told that our candle should not be placed "under a bushel, but on a candlestick; [so that] it giveth light unto all that are in the house."

As trained musicians in the Church, how do we reconcile these two seemingly conflicting beliefs?  What are your thoughts or experiences?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Song: Mother Knows Best

Mother Knows Best, El Capitan Theatre Organ w/ Rob Richards and Alex Zsolt. Filmed January 15, 2011 as part of Pipes and Pops Wurlitzer Weekend.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Making Mistakes


“Perfectionism can be a paralyzing curse; but self satisfaction is intolerable. Humility is a virtue.”
~Miriam Clapp Duncan


Last week on this blog's facebook page I mentioned that I didn't play my organ examples flawlessly in my presentation at Super Saturday.  I know I've mentioned things like this in the past as well.  I thought I'd write an article dedicated to making mistakes today.

By nature I am a huge perfectionist.  One thing I love about music, is that you can be perfect.  A quarter note lasts for one beat.  A metronome marking can be set so that your tempo is exact.  This concept of perfection is one of the many reasons that I ultimately preferred the organ over the flute.  When you play the flute, everything can be subjective, from your embouchure, to your hand position, to where your tongue is in your mouth, to your tone quality.  The organ removes many of these subjective variables, at least as they relate to tone quality!

I used to beat myself up, over and over, when I made mistakes in a worship service.  I remember praying with my whole soul that I would just not make any mistakes, but they'd come anyway, despite the numerous hours I spent practicing.

How frustrating!

I used to think that I had to be perfect!  That if I presented myself as a trained organist, there was no room for error, ever.  I hid my human side, instead presenting an airbrushed image of myself.  I didn't let anyone get to know the real me, because it wasn't who I ultimately wanted to be.

Slowly, things changed. In the first place, this perfection was unattainable, despite my intense practice hours. Then I attended the BYU Organ Workshops and saw that those with significantly more training and experience than me didn't take themselves too seriously.  I vividly remember Linda Margetts, Tabernacle Organist, putting her organ shoes on her hands, moving the organ bench out of the way, getting down on her hand and knees, and playing the pedals with her hands to illustrate a concept.  Learning that these great organists were willing to show a human side gave me permission to show others that I'm human as well.  I learned that I don't have to be unattainably perfect all the time.

I read a quote recently that I want to share here, but despite many attempts, I haven't been able to find it!  The gist of it is as follows:  A music teacher was conversing with his student, who asked, "But what if I make a mistake?"  The music teacher replied, "That is why people come to your recital--to hear your mistakes.  A perfect performance is boring.  Mistakes add a human element to your performance, and that is why people listen."

When I played for BYU Women's Conference last year, I had spent months preparing my hymns, but I knew my nerves would kick in, and I most likely would make some mistakes.  I remember sitting in the huge Marriott Center, pondering and praying during some classes prior to my accompaniment, wondering if, perhaps, I should have just played the hymns straight from the hymnal, instead of utilizing various techniques to help better share the spirit of the hymns I was playing. I knew I could play the standard hymns more consistently than if I changed them up a bit, and really started to second-guess myself and my decisions.

As I was worrying in my mind I had the thought, "who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"  I realized that despite my imperfections, the spirit I brought with me and the preparation I made was exactly what was needed in that audience at that time.  Yes, I ultimately did make some mistakes.  But I also touched hearts, and that is the purpose behind all of my efforts.

Now, instead of praying for a perfect performance, I pray that I will have the Spirit with me, and that I will touch the hearts and lives of those who are listening to me play.  I pray that my preparation will be adequate, and that I will prepare those in attendance for worship.

Now, this realization doesn't give me permission to skip my preparation, or to do anything less than my very best.  It just means that it's okay if my very best isn't utter perfection.

I've learned that my lot in life is to do all that I can do, and the Lord will magnify my efforts--not in spite of, but because of my mistakes.

(If you liked this article, you may also be interested in reading Florence's article entitled, Practice Makes Perfect Comfortable)


Monday, May 6, 2013

Today is World Organ Day!

Today is World Organ Day! Click here for a list of concerts that are being held today.



Sacred music regulates the Notre Dame cathedral’s life since its construction and the organ has been there since the beginning. First in the choir only, then hanged in the nave, an organ was built on the gallery in 1401 and became after many restorations and reconstructions, one of the most famous organs in the world: The Great Organ of Notre-Dame de Paris.Thanks to it, Organ music regulates the cathedral life since its early times. It is to pay tribute to this music that during the 850th anniversary, on May 6th 2013 will the World Organ Day 2013 be held.

This global event is completely new. It will consist in more than 850 concerts which will make the repertoire of Notre-Dame de Paris ring out in places of worship and concert halls on the five continents. Due to time differences the concerts will stretch on more than 24 hours, giving this event proportions without precedent.

The concerts are coordinated by Notre-Dame de Paris 2013 association in partnership with several organists associations but independently organized by each place of worship or concert hall. In order to introduce or help the widest audience to rediscover the beauty of organ music, many media-related means will be displayed to give more visibility to this instrument which is sometimes unrecognized by the general public.

Take some time today to share the organ with others.

You may not be able to attend or perform in a recital, but there are other things that you can do to promote and celebrate the king of instruments, the organ. Perhaps you can play your favorite piece for a friend or family member, introduce someone to a new prelude piece, make posts on Facebook concerning World Organ Day, post links to your favorite organ repertoire, or offer to give someone a free organ lesson. There are all kinds of possibilities!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday Song: Vierne's Symphonie II

It's past time for a new Sunday Song!


Johann Vexo play Louis Vierne: Symphonie II at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris


From the YouTube description:  Johann Vexo is the Organist of the Choir Organ and in this video plays the Great Pipe Organ in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. This was recorded as an "extra" while recording a CD of him on the pipe organ in the cathedral. The work is Louis Vierne's Symphonie II in e minor, Opus 20; composed in 1903 and dedicated to Charles Mutin.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Monday is World Organ Day



Monday is World Organ Day. This global event is completely new. It will consist in more than 850 concerts which will make the repertoire of Notre-Dame de Paris ring out in places of worship and concert halls on the five continents. Due to time differences the concerts will stretch on more than 24 hours, giving this event proportions without precedent.

The concerts are coordinated by Notre-Dame de Paris 2013 association in partnership with several organists associations but independently organized by each place of worship or concert hall. In order to introduce or help the widest audience to rediscover the beauty of organ music, many media-related means will be displayed to give more visibility to this instrument which is sometimes unrecognized by the general public.  Click here for more information.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Music in Heaven

 

At the UVAGO Super Saturday Organ Training Workshop, our keynote speaker, Carol Dean, said, "I know there are pipe organs in heaven, because I wouldn't be happy there if there weren't."  Later, the dean of our chapter reiterated that statement, by saying her late husband is building her pipe organ, and she told him she won't join him there until it is ready for her.  My eighty-year-old grandmother, who has been a ward organist for almost sixty years, missed those statements, but attended the final two classes.  Afterwards, she asked me for organ lessons, because she wants to "be ready." Although she wasn't there for the earlier statements, she echoed their sentiments!

The concept of music in heaven is something that I've had on my mind a lot throughout my life. It is common acceptance in the Christian world that angels sang at Jesus Christ's birth, for how could such a miraculous event be celebrated any other way?

Handel is said to have exclaimed after finishing the Hallelujah chorus, “I did think I did see all Heaven open before me and the great God Himself.”

John Taylor, an early Mormon prophet said:
“We have no idea of the excellence of the music we shall have in heaven. It may be said of that, as one of the Apostles has said in relation to something else—‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive of those things which are prepared for those who love and fear God.’ We have no idea of the excellency, beauty, harmony and symphony of the music in the heavens.”
Can you imagine?  I know many of us, as church musicians, have probably had divine experiences with music.  I know there has been more than one time in my life where I have felt the heavens open and experienced divine music from above.  In fact, in my recent article, I mentioned that "as organists, we have the opportunity to invite people to worship, to help them call upon the choirs of heaven, and help them join their voices in an experience of spiritual outpouring."

This is my goal for every congregation of every denomination.  This is why I created my blog, so that in some small way I can help church organists facilitate this outpouring.

Have you ever experienced a musical communion with heaven?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

How to Beautify Hymn Accompaniment

As organists, we have the opportunity to invite people to worship, to help them call upon the choirs of heaven, and help them join their voices in an experience of spiritual outpouring.  In order to do this, it requires us to do more than just rely on some presets and a quick run-through of the hymns. 

We need to be prepared, or we can't help our congregations worship!  In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord said, “The song of the righteous is a prayer unto me.”  If you are not LDS, you might instead be familiar with a saying often attributed to Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, “He who sings, prays twice.”  It is our responsibility, as organists, to inspire our congregations to sing, and facilitate this communion with Heaven.


A  New Experience Every Time

Something I learned in the past that's really stuck with me is that we need to make singing the hymns a new experience for our congregation every single Sunday--a new experience every single time they sing a hymn.


I attended an organ workshop some years ago, where I heard  a similar introduction to this hymn, and it was a changing moment in my life.  I remember it very clearly, and it was in a registration class of all places.  I had never before felt that much excitement about singing a hymn!  As the organist played I found myself sitting up straighter and experiencing this well-known hymn for the very first time.  (I linked to the sheet music here.)

And now I desire everyone to have that same experience.  It literally changed my life!  So I'm sharing this message with all who will listen.

In his forward to Festive Hymn Introductions, Dale Wood writes:
“Hymn playing should never become a routine and commonplace thing.  A conscientious organist must continually inspire the congregation and not allow the singing to become monotonous and prosaic.”

If we do not prepare ourselves for each and every Sunday, instead relying on our past experiences in playing the hymns, how can we expect the congregation to be able to have a new experience each and every week?

It doesn't have to be very difficult.  The introduction I just shared doesn't have to become the norm for your congregation. In fact, if it did, it would lose its impact.  So let's explore are some techniques that will help inspire our congregations to sing.  These first seven items are foundations that I've mentioned before, but they are so important that I wanted to mention them anyway.  Work on these first, before proceeding to the additional techniques:
  • Find love and joy in your calling as organist. The spirit in your heart is conveyed through your music.
  • Be prepared! Practice the hymns, spend time studying the hymn texts, and select appropriate registrations, then play with confidence.
  • Play appropriate, well-prepared prelude music. This is not the time to quickly run through the congregational hymns. Prepare the environment for congregational singing.
  • Play hymns at their proper tempo. Invest in an inexpensive metronome, or download a metronome app for your phone. Hymns should not drag!
  • Adequately support your congregation with the organ's volume. If you're too soft, the congregation will feel uncomfortable singing out. If you are too loud, they won't be able to hear themselves sing. (But when in doubt, err on the loud side!) If you're unsure, ask those who sit in the back to give you feedback on the organ's volume following the service.
  • Change registration to follow the mood of the hymns and to follow the hymn text. Don't use the same registration from week to week or from hymn to hymn.
  • Be sensitive to the hymn text: Breathe—or don't breathe—with the text. Keep the message of the hymn intact, and read or sing along with the verses.

Again, these things are important and build the foundation, but they're not the focus of this article, so let's jump into additional ways we can beautify hymn singing, to be used in moderation:
  • Alter the introduction. It doesn't have to be anything huge, just do something a little bit differently to help prepare the congregation to sing. Make sure it is very clear to the congregation when to begin singing. Some options include:
    • soloing out the melody
    • accumulating the voices (start with soprano alone)
    • utilizing pedal point
    • adding suspensions and/or passing tones
    • beginning with a fanfare
    • using something based on a published arrangement
  • Play all the voices on one manual during the second-to-last verse, or play the pedals but remove all 16' stops. If you generally don't play pedals, remove the bass coupler for this verse. Add the pedal, 16' stops, or bass coupler back for the final verse, which increases the impact of the deep pedal tone.
  • On a soprano/alto section of a hymn, mirror the soprano an octave lower on a verse, or use a pedal point on a verse to support those men who continue to sing the melody.
  • Utilize a reed or other solo on a different manual, such as the fanfares in God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand.
  • Solo out a voice of the hymn:
    • solo the soprano, especially on an unfamiliar hymn by using use the melody coupler, a publication like The Organist's Upper Hand, or writing it out;
    • solo out the tenor (loco or 8va) on a hymn with a beautiful tenor line;
    • raise the alto up an octave to highlight a nice alto line.
  • Change keys prior to the final verse. Make sure the congregation will hear and recognize the new key before beginning to sing. A quick way to change keys up ½ a step is to step down with the pedal from the tonic two whole steps, playing the V7 of the new key on the second one.
  • In appropriate places during one verse of a hymn add non-chord tones such as:
    • passing tones, which “fill in” the space between two primary notes;
    • neighboring tones, tones that step up or down, then back to the chord tone;
    • suspensions, which prolong a consonant note while the harmony changes, usually on a strong beat, and then generally resolve down by step to the third of the new chord;
  • Add a pedal point. A pedal point is either the dominant (usually) or the tonic, played in the pedal and sustained throughout harmonic changes in sections of the hymn.
  • Use a different version of the hymn from an old hymnal, such as the chorus of There is Sunshine In My Soul for one verse (watch out for different key signatures).
  • Add an end of phrase fanfare or elaboration in an upbeat hymn throughout a verse.
  • Utilize a short interlude between verses—begin the interlude before the congregation would feel the need to sing.
  • Use a free accompaniment on the final verse of a familiar hymn. Announce in advance for the congregation to sing that verse in unison. See Don Cook's handout here.

Begin Slowly

Don't immediately rush in and start playing a free accompaniment every week! Make a small change here and there, always evaluating whether or not it was effective, if the congregation responded favorably or not, and what you could have done to better share the Spirit of each hymn.

Make sure that you don't draw undue attention to yourself, or detract from the hymn itself. Everything you do as organist should be to share the message of the hymns more fully with your congregation. Nothing should be showy or unnecessarily elaborate, or the members of the congregation will focus on the organist instead of the music. Again, always be well-prepared. If the organist is not well-prepared, members of the congregation will feel unsure about singing.

Alexander Pope said in the 18th century:
“Some to the Church repair, not for the doctrine but for the music there.”
Let us strive to make music the crowning element of each of our worship services. May we enhance the music so that we can help the members of our congregation better worship our Savior through song.

Friday, March 29, 2013

BYU Organ Workshop: Register Before April 1st and save

I have mentioned the BYU Organ Workshop on this blog in the past.  Here's an email I received this past week:

Our 2013 BYU Organ Workshop will be held August 6-9 and we’d love to have you attend again to refresh and sharpen your organ-playing skills. If you attended before and hope to return, Monday, April 1 is the deadline for the “early bird discount.”  Please spread the word to others who may be interested and get the best buy for your money by registering before the price rises.

Here’s our web site http://organworkshop.byu.edu or you can do it by phone at 1-877-221-6716. Hope to see you in August!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Google Reader is being retired

Google Announced on Wednesday that they are retiring Google Reader on July 1st. If you use Reader to follow your blogs, you'll need to find another option. I've heard that Feedly is what a lot of people are switching to, I've also heard about Bloglovin.   If you have a good option, please share it in the comments.

Thanks!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pipe Organ for Sale on Craigslist

I found this article interesting.  "Developers who are converting a church in Toronto’s west end into condos are desperately seeking a new home for the pipe organ."

I wish I had room for a pipe organ!