Today's guest is Jay Farnes from San Diego, California who is a student of mine and he tries to improve his organ sight-reading abilities, especially sight-reading hymns, even though he is 70 years old.
He got interested in the organ back in the 70’s and always had a love for jazz music. He got enamored with organs, especially the Hammond organ, after listening to jazz organists like Jimmy Smith and Johnny ‘Hammond’ Smith. It was exciting for him to hear some rock groups embrace and incorporate the Hammond organ in those days, like Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman. He quickly became a huge fan of those people and that sound.
Jay had played piano for some years, being taught in his youth by his mother, who was a pretty good pianist. He started playing saxophone early in school years and continued in that from Junior High through college. His favorite school groups were jazz ensembles.
In the early 70’s, Jay joined a band and bought his first organ, a Hammond Model D, a huge monster of an organ. He played keyboards and woodwinds professionally in various groups for some fifteen years or so.
Currently Jay has the privilege to play organ in his church services occasionally. In his church, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’, (more commonly known as Mormons), there are no paid positions, which would include clergy and organists. People are asked by ecclesiastical leaders to fulfill positions for various lengths of time. So in his congregation, there is an organist that has been asked or ‘called’ to that position for an indeterminate length of time. When he is not able to attend our services, he usually asks Jay to fill in.
He enjoys playing hymn and chorale type music, and is working to increase his proficiency in those areas.
Jay's largest challenge is sight-reading. He didn’t do a whole lot of that playing professionally, and he feels he's playing catch-up with that now.
So in this conversation, Jay and I devise a 30 day hymn sight-reading challenge for him as well as other practical details for his organ playing future.
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Listen to the conversation