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Learning to Play the Organ

Termed as “The King of Instruments”, the organ is an interesting and fascinating instrument to play.  It comes in various forms from the standard electronic, to the more refined Church Organ and Orchestral Organ. Its ability to produce sounds across wide ranges of both, volume and pitch makes learning the organ seem difficult yet extremely rewarding, as the musical variety they are capable of is astounding. Here are some steps that we have compiled to make learning the organ easier and quicker:

1. Learn the Piano:   Most organ teachers will not accept you without at least one year of piano training as the instruction requires you to have some experience on the piano. There are twelve notes a piano can produce: seven white key notes (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) and five black key notes (C-sharp, D-sharp, F-sharp, A-flat, and B-flat). The notes change from low to high, but don’t vary in pitch.
2. Learn To Read Music:  Organ being considered an advanced instrument, a prerequisite for learning is being able to read sheet music before beginning organ study.
3. Find an organ teacher: When you contact a teacher, be sure to find out if you meet their minimum criteria to begin lessons such as ability to sight read or a certain level of experience on the piano.
4. Having Access to the Organ: An organ being a large and expensive instrument isn’t widely available. In order to learn the organ, you will need to practice outside of your lesson schedule. Research on the possibility of practicing at a studio, inquire at local churches, or obtain a small (or digital) organ for home.
5. Purchase an Organ study book: An introductory organ book will help you to study the basics alongside what you learn during your lessons. Speak to your organ instructor about their recommended book.
6. Buy a pair of Organ shoes: Proper footwear will help you develop efficient technique on the pedals. Secondly, since you’ll only be wearing your organ shoes when sitting at the organ, they will not pick up dirt which can damage the pedals.
7. Begin taking lessons: The organ being a difficult instrument requires professional instruction. Create a regular schedule of lessons (such as, twice a week).
8. Study pedal technique: The primary difference between piano and organ is the introduction of the foot pedal. To play the organ, you must practice proper pedal form and technique.
9. Practice legato playing: With the organ, you do not want the notes to overlap nor would want any space between them. This phenomenon is known as “legato playing.” Legato playing involves a technique called “trapping the note.” This means holding a key down with one finger so that you can advance to another key with a different finger. When you feel comfortable with your hands, advance to practicing your legato playing with both, hands and feet.
10. Practice: Practice is the key to mastering any instrument. The more practice you put in, the more you will get out of it.
Contact Kathryn Brickell Music at (800-285-5732)We service Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and NYC areas. Learn more about instruments we teach and our experienced instructors.