By Vidas Pinkevicius
The process of selecting candidates for an organist position in a church or cathedral is a fairly complex one. In fact, it has undergone significant changes and improvements over the ages.
Remember the 17th century, when Dieterich Buxtehude lived? The guy had to marry a previous organist's Franz Tunder's daughter when he applied at St. Mary's in Lubeck.
As much as we love the toccatas of Buxtehude or chorale fantasias of Tunder, that would be a problem, wouldn't it?
"Oh John, we loved how you've accompanied the hymns on our organ. If you would just marry the daughter of our Suzy, you could start playing for us the next Sunday."
What if the guy was already married and wanted to apply for an organist's job?
"Hey John, how did you do during your interview?"
"It went well, thanks, Martha. They loved my organ playing skills. That sight-reading test they put me through was a piece of cake. Oh, and by the way, I'll be moving to another town and living with another woman".
"What? Why do you want to leave me?"
"I'm sorry, dear, I need this 5 manual Kimball. I'm sick and tired of playing those Pachelbel manualiter fughettes. Then I could do some serious Reger stuff."
And what sort of classes would you need to take in college or conservatory to meet the requirements of the committee? A fix-up dating class? A family management class? A dealing-with-the-envy-of-former-colleague-organist-who-is-also-your-father-in-law-class?
Now the process of selecting an organist is less painful.
"Well John, our former organist liked to use too much pedal work and registration changes in his playing so much so that people couldn't talk to each other during preludes and postludes. We need you to blend in. Play with white keys on week-days and on black keys on Sundays and holidays."
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.