Welcome to The Latter-day Saint Organist's Resource 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, January 27, 2018

Being the One

Carol Dean

I've posted about Carol Dean many times.  As a graduate student, she taught my Organ Essentials class--my first introduction to the organ. While I got an A in this class, I left feeling completely overwhelmed. Basically, I felt the class actually taught me that I did NOT know how to play the organ--my eyes were opened to all of the differences between the piano and the organ, and I just wanted to stick with the piano, flute and piccolo. Playing the organ was hard!

By divine design, after getting married, my husband and I moved into her stake in Provo, and I was again able to study with Carol when I was called as ward organist on the beautiful Bigelow pipe organ there. As a new organist, I didn't appreciate this rare opportunity to play on such an instrument.

After we purchased a home and moved away, Carol was there for me, always willing to come teach me skills--many that I didn't even know I needed! Her compliments were many, and I felt like she believed in me far more than I did. She was forever encouraging me to teach others, but I felt inferior as an organist, and felt I needed to learn so much more, first.

Being a Mentor

In 2012, as a member of the nominating committee she recommended me to serve as secretary in the Utah Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. I felt completely unqualified, and wasn't even a member of the AGO yet, but I accepted with great trepidation.

Joining and becoming involved in my local chapter of the AGO gave me support and training that I didn't realize I needed. Just interacting with other organists provides a sense of community. I learned so much from my interactions here.

Finally, towards the end of 2013 (16 years after Carol's first urging), I accepted my first organ student. I'm afraid I really didn't know what I was doing at the time! Patricia was my patient "guinea pig," and I appreciate all that I learned from being thrown into the position of private teacher. Since then I've maintained a small private studio, and love the opportunities I get to train others to love the organ as much as I do!

In May of 2017 I took my Colleague exam through the Salt Lake Chapter of the American Guild of Organists on a three manual Rodgers/Casavant hybrid. Despite all of my preparation and learning, I still felt inadequate. After learning in June that I passed, I immediately sent Carol this message:
I owe my start on the organ to you. As my very first teacher, you got me started with a solid foundation on the organ.  Your nomination of me as secretary in the Utah Valley chapter got me involved in the AGO for the first time. Thank you so much for your faith in me, and for pushing me when I felt I wasn't good enough. Without you, I never would have become an organist, let alone a Colleague in the AGO.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Now, Carol isn't the only teacher I've had on the organ. I've learned so much from Don Cook and Bonnie Goodliffe, as well as from instructors in many trainings, workshops, and conventions I've attended. However, I consider Carol to be my mentor.  Just recently I shared with her:
The other day I was pondering on where I am today as an organist, and it really is because of you. You believed in me, and thought highly of me--even more than I did of myself. You encouraged me to serve as secretary in our AGO chapter, even though I really hadn't been an active member. You asked me to help in the organ lab at Super Saturday and take my first organ student (even through I really didn't know what I was doing at the time). You made all the difference in my life! The organ is vital to my emotional health, and you made it all possible. When I told you that it was because of you that I earned my CAGO, it really was true. Yes, I put in a lot of hard work, but you got me started on the path, and you encouraged me to stretch higher and further than I thought I could.

Building Each Other Up

Why am I sharing all of this with my readers? How does this story affect you?

In a social-media-fueled world that's increasingly becoming less tolerant of anything other than perceived perfection in all areas, it is so important for us to recognize the good in others. We all struggle with feelings of inadequacy. We know we aren't perfect, and all too often we fall into the trap of thinking we aren't good enough.

Carol Dean believed in me. While demanding perfection, she was always quick to think the best of me and my efforts, even when I "knew better." We need people who believe in us, especially when we struggle to believe in ourselves.

I didn't believe in myself. In fact, less than two weeks before I took my CAGO exam, despite all of my practicing, and despite all of my progress, this is how I felt:
Have you ever decided to do something that is so far not just out of your comfort zone, but above your ability? Something that makes you stretch further than you think you can? Then life happens and prevents you from working on your goal for an extended period of time, but you're up against a hard deadline? My deadline hits Friday, May 12th, and I'm feeling defeated...
But here's the thing: I was good enough!  All along, I was good enough.  And I didn't believe in myself.

Let's do as Carol has always done: strive to build each other up. Let us each express confidence in each other. You CAN do this! You ARE capable.

Believe in others, and believe in yourself.

Be the one person that others can rely on for support. Be the one person that believes in yourself.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

New Full-Time Tabernacle Organist Appointed

Dr. Brian Mathias has been appointed a Tabernacle organist, as Clay Christiansen is retiring this year. Dr. Mathias has been serving as an adjunct faculty member at BYU in the organ department.  For more information, visit the Mormon Tabernacle Choir website.

Listen to his performance during the first round of the 2014 Canadian International Organ Competition: