Would you like to learn Allegretto in F Major from L'Organiste by Cesar Franck?
I hope you'll enjoy playing this piece yourself from my PDF score.
Thanks to Alan Peterson for his meticulous transcription from the slow motion video.
What will you get?
PDF score with complete fingering written in which will save you many hours of work. Basic Level. 2 pages.
Let me know how your practice goes.
This score is free for Total Organist students.
Check it out here
Would you like to learn Offertory or Communion in E Minor from L'Organiste by Cesar Franck?
I hope you'll enjoy playing this piece yourself from my PDF score.
Thanks to Juan Osorno for his meticulous transcription from the slow motion video.
What will you get?
PDF score with complete fingering written in which will save you many hours of work. Basic Level. 6 pages.
Let me know how your practice goes.
This score is free for Total Organist students.
Check it out here
When I set out to learn to play the organ, I wasn't a total beginner - for 9 years I've been playing piano and my first organ teacher asked me to choose any of the chorale preludes from Bach's Orgelbuchlein. It wasn't easy - the pedal part is demanding and the texture can be quite complex.
That's how many people start with organ playing, though. First they study some years at the piano and later they begin to play the organ. Some people start at the organ from scratch too and continue to advance while playing solely on this instrument.
Whatever the case might be, it's important to assess your organ playing level wisely and choose appropriate repertoire.
When I'm teaching thousands of students from 89 countries at my site Secrets of Organ Playing, I publish organ training materials divided into 4 levels: Beginner, Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. At first, I would just write the appropriate level within the description of the training or score. When my training collection was small, it was fine but now it has pages upon pages of training programs and practice scores.
Until recently, when an organ student came to my store to look at some scores, there wasn't a simple way for them to browse the trainings at the appropriate level. Everything was mixed up. But a few days ago I went through all my products and tagged them according to Beginner, Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and All Levels.
Now anybody can find the score or training program at their particular level very easily which not only saves time but helps to avoid frustration when choosing the piece that you love at the wrong level of organ playing experience.
For example, a lot of people love Bach's D Minor Toccata and Fugue, BWV 565 or Widor's Toccata. But both of them are Advanced Level pieces. What if an organist can only play Basic level compositions?
If a person loves Bach at this level, they can learn 6 Schubler chorales for starters. If a person loves French symphonic music, one can start with Berceuse by Louis Vierne. This way students will still enjoy learning music that they would likely find beautiful and at the same time avoid frustration of picking the wrong level.
What is your organ playing level?
Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra
V: Let’s start episode 521, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This questions was sent by Diana. And she writes:
When I play an organ I look too much at my hands. So sometimes I lose where I play. And it makes trouble when I need to play in Mass or concert (not only this week).
V: Hmm. Interesting question. It’s probably very common among beginners to look at their hands.
A: Well, true because if you are beginner, keyboard player as Diana is, then yes, you look at the hands a lot. But then if you are experienced keyboard player but you start to learn to play organ then you look at the pedal a lot. So these two problems are kind of similar. But I guess when she will reach certain level on playing the keyboard she will naturally stop looking at her hands. Because, do you look at your hands a lot while playing keyboards?
V: When I improvise, yes. Because where I supposed to look? There is no music.
A: Well, yes but we are talking if you have a musical score in front of you.
V: Ah. I see. Not so much of course. No. I have to look at the score…
A: I know.
V: because I don’t know what to play then.
V: Do you think she needs some extra attention of looking at the score and not looking down at the fingers or it will just come naturally to her?
A: I think is should come naturally. For example, I look at the keyboard early when we are playing duets. And you know why? Because when I’m playing solo I sit in the middle of the keyboard but when we are playing duets, I most often play the upper part but sometimes I play the lower part, and then you sort of have to change your body position and you sit either far right or far left of the keyboard.
A: And then the keyboards shifts because of the position of your body and it’s sometimes a little bit hard to coordinate the distances, yes.
V: You don’t know which key you will hit.
V: Which octave you will hit.
A: Yes. Because you are sort of decentralized. So that way, yes, I have sometimes to look at the keyboards because we have such a laughs, that for example, I start to play everything what is written but let’s say a third above or a third below, and it’s so funny, sometimes.
V: And we can transpose them.
V: Very nice. I like transposition.
A: Yes. So I guess it all comes with experience. Because its often a problem for young organists when they just start playing organ, that they watch at the pedalboard a lot. And then they lose the text. And since Diana is playing violin I guess she is new at the keyboard so that gives her a problem but I think she will overcome it with time.
V: Do you think giving herself this idea of really focusing on the score and not on the hands would help her concentrate more and not to look down, like actively looking at the score and not at the hands?
A: Yes, I think it would help.
V: And remembering not to look down, sort of.
V: Or reminding herself not to look down.
A: That’s right. But another problem that some of the new musicians experience; I remember teaching many years back, I had fifteen first graders to teach to play piano.
V: Mmm-hmm. Fifteen?
A: Yes. Fifteen.
A: I had like one lesson with each of them every week.
V: How many minutes?
A: Maybe two lessons but like a half an hour with each time.
V: Wait a second. Half an hour, right?
V: Each time.
A: Maybe twenty minutes.
V: Twenty minutes.
A: I’m not so sure right now. I think we had like one academic lesson switched into two hands, divided into two hands.
V: Do you miss these days?
A: No! No, no, no, no… But that’s a good experience. You have to experience life. And I started to teach them on the First of September, and before Christmas that year, I had to make a contest with them and everybody of them had to perform.
V: In front of their parents.
A: Yes. So it was really tough. And not only parents but also director of the school.
V: You mean principal.
A: Principal, yes.
A: So, it was really tough. But what I wanted to tell, that some of those kids really didn’t want to read music...
A: from the score. I was really, probably for half of them the hardest thing to read the score. And what they wanted, these kids, they wanted that I would show on the keyboard how it goes, and they memorize from my hands what is happening.
V: They would mimic your hands.
A: Yes. Just like apes, you know.
A: Monkeys, yes.
A: And they wouldn’t watch to the score. It would be there for them just to follow their finger…
A: on the keyboard. And one suddenly realized, ‘it’s just like computer’.
A: You also have to press a key and then he liked it, actually a lot.
V: Because he likes computer.
V: Uh-huh. So what was your solution with them?
V: How did you manage fifteen first graders to play in a Christmas concert in front of their kids, after maybe sixteen, fifteen, weeks of training only?
A: Well, we did actually pretty good because what I found out while working with them, that these little kids, they are very observing, observing all the new information and they learn very fast actually. And one of them actually I suggest for his mother to take to a musical school and she did. And he was accepted to study to learn to play cello. And I just recently found out through the social media that he became a professional musician.
A: And he lives now, I think in Cyprus.
A: Yes. And he performs sometimes with one colleague from our school, Eugenius.
V: Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean.
A: Yes. So I guess my understanding about his talents was real and I’m glad that he chose that way.
V: Uh-huh. But you don’t have good memories about your principal, right?
A: Well, yeah.
V: She. Um…
A: Well, she didn’t do anything bad personally to me…
A: I think she gave me a job when I really needed and I really appreciated that.
A: But being musician herself and knowing what the horrible station for musicians was in Lithuania at that time, she used us all, I think.
V: Mmm-hmm. Employed you without, um…
A: Without Social Security?
A: Yes. So now I don’t have any benefits from those. I was teaching for her for three years.
V: Three years?
A: Three years, yes. So I guess when I will reach my senior age I will be very sorry that I worked for her for those three years.
V: Uh-huh. You could get retirement three years earlier.
A: That’s true. But now I will have to work…
V: Three more years.
V: You see guys, sometimes, musicians, when they become in a position to organize some kind of school and employ other musicians, they abuse those musicians…
V: which are below them.
A: Because I remember one teacher that our colleague in Lincoln, back in the USA had. And the sign on that T-shirt said, ‘Unemployed musician. Will work for food’.
A: And that’s so true, actually.
V: Maybe not necessarily abuse but exploit musicians, exploit her…
V: Right. Wow. So we started talking about Diana’s hands. Nice. Alright, guys, please send us more of your questions. And we will talk about your questions and troubles in our podcast. And maybe we’ll share some of our experiences in a way to create a story out of that. Alright. And remember, when you practice…
A: Miracles happen!
Thank you everyone for participating and for choosing the winners! You all made us very happy with your entries. Here are the results.
Have you ever wanted to start to practice on the organ but found yourself sidetracked after a few days? Apparently your inner motivation wasn't enough.
I know how you feel. I also was stuck many times. What helped me was to find some external motivation as well.
In order for you to advance your organ playing skills and help you motivate to practice, my wife Ausra - @laputis and I invite you to join in a contest to submit your organ music and win some Steem.
Are you an experienced organist? You can participate easily. Are you a beginner? No problem. This contest is open to every organ music loving Steemian.
Here are the rules
Yesterday I had my 3rd harmony class for church organists where I taught people how to add a middle voice to the hymn tune. Previously the homework for them was to supply only the bass line but now the texture sounds much fuller.
Three-part harmonization is very useful when you have church choir without tenors. This is very often the case in a lot of church choirs in Lithuania. Men voices in general are more rare than women's voices but tenors are twice as rare.
So the way the two-part harmonization works is only to employ intervals which sound sweet or pure - major or minor 3rds, major or minor 6ths and perfect 8ves and perfect 5ths. However, people had to avoid parallel 5ths and 8ves by writing as much contrary motion as possible - if the melody goes up - the bass goes down and vice versa.
Two classes in a row we worked on this arrangements of voices and actually it already sounds nice, if played with a full Principal chorus with mixtures. For some students this is easier than for others, of course. It depends on their talent, skill level and experience.
While adding a middle part, people were free to imagine it as an alto or as a tenor or a combination of both - writing it either in the upper or the lower stave. The rules are basically the same as before - no parallel 5ths and 8ves and no hidden 5ths and 8ths either - when jumping into a 5th or an 8ve from the same direction. Only opposite motion here is OK. No dissonances (2nds and 7ths).
Most importantly, in every chord use either all 3 chordal notes (like C-E-G), or if you must skip something, skip a 5th (G in C-E-G chord), but leave a 3rd of the chord (E in this case).
I plan to have one more class with three-part harmonization before moving into a full SATB texture.
Try it out if you're curious how it works on any melody you like.
I'd like to share with you another video of my recent improvisation with VU Kinetic Theater Troupe on the biblical story of Exodus. This time - with combined view from upstairs where the organist plays and from downstairs where the actors moved. Thanks to Audre Dudeniene for editing!
Welcome to episode 516 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast!
Today it's my pleasure to introduce to you Paul Ayres who is a prize-winning composer, arranger, choral conductor, musical director, organist and accompanist from the UK. We are talking about his organ music.
Vidas: Thank you so much, Paul for joining in this conversation! I'm very delighted to be able to talk with you through the internet. I came in the contact with your work some months ago when I found out about your fabulous Toccata for Eric. And you sent me other pieces to listen to and then I bought the entire Suite for Eric which was very exciting suite for me. And I'm actually learning and practicing it right now. Actually, before we started talking I practiced the Prelude and Fugue from this suite.
Listen to the entire conversation
You can find out more about Paul Ayres and his work by visiting his website at https://www.paulayres.co.uk.
a re-written version of J S Bach's Toccata and Fugue BWV 565
awarded second prize in the AGO Seattle Chapter 'Bach to the Future' composition competition
online live recordings:
Fantasy-Sonata on Over the Rainbow
first prize in the Harrison and Harrison organ builders 150th anniversary composing competition
second prize in Washington DC AGO chapter composing competition
[this one not performed nor recorded yet!]
Aria (from Suite for Eric)
Mostly Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor
Concerto on I want to hold your hand
first prize in the Brindley & Foster composition competition 2010
Adagio Cromatico on Michelle
Toccatina on Here Comes The Sun
Trio on Ich steh' and Hey Jude
Lament on And I love her
Funiculi Funicula Finale
Fantasia on Mission Impossible
The Departure of the Queen of Sheba
Andrew Lloyd Webber Variations for cello and rock band
(the entire album, transcribed for solo organ)
A Whiter Shade of Pale
Exite Fideles (based on Adeste Fideles)
Variations on Es ist ein Ros entsprungen
joint first prize in the New Zealand Association of Organists' composition competition
Evermore and evermore (based on Corde natus ex Parentis)
Advent Fantasia (using melodies Veni Emmanuel and Wachet Auf)
Herzlich tut mich verlangen
The Lord's my Shepherd (Crimond)
Veni creator Spiritus
Duo (from Suite for Eric)
Intermezzo (from Suite for Eric)
Wie schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern
Toccata on All you need is love
Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 522 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by me, Vidas, answering what I have been struggling the most this week. And my answer was,
This week, I’ve been struggling the most with having an 8 hour sleep at night. Used to wake up quite early..
A: Well, I guess this problem applies to many people, not only you. When I was starting to teach at the 1st of September, I don’t get 8 hours of sleep almost every night. I don’t get it just because if I have to get up early to school, I simply, there is no way I could sleep 8 hours before that.
V: You know, there is a trick. To get to bed earlier.
A: But if you will get to bed earlier, it doesn’t mean that you will fall asleep right away.
V: Maybe that means that you’re not enough, not tired enough.
A: Well, or you are too tired.
V: Oh, you’re…
A: I think it’s for me, it’s probably most often that I am too tired to get, to fall asleep.
V: I can feel what you mean. Your head is full of thoughts right?
V: And they don’t let you fall asleep.
A: But also, if I will do more physical activities in the second half of the day, you know, in the evening, then I also won’t be able to sleep.
V: Do you notice that you sleep better when you take a walk?
A: Well, yes, it helps a little. But not always. Actually, what helps me most is not to have to go to work. If I don’t have to get up early and go to work, then I sleep much better.
V: Aha. We’re recording this conversation on Wednesday morning, so we are not going to work today, right?
A: Well, we will work, of course, but not teaching.
V: Yes. You don’t have classes.
A: No, I don’t have classes.
V: So, did you sleep well tonight?
A: Yes, I think I slept 8 hours straight. Almost 8 hours straight - maybe 7 ½ . And that very rarely happens, actually.
V: I see. But me not so much. I, yesterday I, before, you probably fell asleep around 10:00.
V: And I spent at least 45 minutes of writing a post, a blog post.
A: Well, I think your problem is that you spend too much time with technology. With your phone, with your computer. Then, I’m sort of wondering how you can sleep at all.
V: (Laughs) Sleep at all!
A: Because if I would be so technologically engaged as you are on a regular basis, I would not sleep at all.
V: Mm hm. Yeah, it’s very tricky to disconnect actually. To disconnect long enough to relax. Some kind of breathing exercise might help, but I have to find to incorporate it in my day, maybe in the morning and in the evening.
A: I think to find the right balance in your life is a challenge for everybody. That you would have enough mental activity but also enough of physical activity.
V: You know, I no longer consider myself employed by other organizations, right? I always consider myself employed by myself. For a long time, even when I was working at school, I still was considered running my own business as a priority. You know, basically, Secrets of Organ Playing. And when you do that, when you have your own business, small or large, it doesn’t matter probably, you feel responsible. And it’s like running your own school, imagine. Do you think your principal sleeps well?
A: Well, actually, I don’t care!
A: I don’t care about it. It’s my last concern.
A: Sure. Do you think my principal thinks about how I’m sleeping?
A: And if he does not, then why should I bother about it, and even think about it?
V: Maybe not principal, maybe your supervisor, let’s say, or someone else.
A: Well, who cares a shit, actually.
V: Mm hm. But, you see what I mean, right?
A: Yes, yes.
V: When I have to deliver content constantly and do technological calls on the computer to maintain the business side of things.
A: I think this is the reason why so many people, so many talented people, don’t want to start their own businesses. Because we’d better be part of something, and we don’t have to do all this stuff that you’re talking now.
V: So is it a good thing or a bad thing?
A: Well, I guess we need both kinds of people.
V: Are they missing out on something, or are they protecting themselves?
A: I think both of these sides have their own advantages and disadvantages.
V: Mm hm.
A: There is no white and black in life. Everything is somewhere in the middle. I guess if you are sort of your own boss, you have advantage of being able to organize the work the way you want. Maybe you don’t have to get up at 6 a.m. every morning. But also you have the responsibility to do things…
V: Mm hm.
A: That nobody else will do for you.
V: That’s what I’m talking about, yes. I have to think about what I’m going to do next. Because there is no schedule set up for me.
A: But I guess because you are not that kind of person that would like to do, somebody that is told to do, then I think it’s better for you to run your own business.
V: That’s what I needed to hear. Thank you.
A: So I guess everybody has to find the right path for them.
V: Yeah. Finding your own path is crucial. Being stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time is making things, making you miserable, right?
V: Mm hm.
A: But I think sometimes it’s the quality of your character that you know that this might not be good for you, but you have no inner power to change anything.
V: You know, there is some solution to this problem of not, not being able to disconnect myself for long enough to relax. I need to find out what 20% of my efforts give 80% of results.
V: This 80/20 rule. And this is called Pareto Principle. And then focus exclusively on those. And maybe neglect everything else which just sucks my time.
A: Well, yes, but you know, when we did those psychological tests a few years back in school, and the speaker of that, he told that there are no way that people could jump from one character to another one. That it’s sort of like predestination - if you have this psychological portrait, you cannot become another person. And remember, you were like, Enthusiast.
V: Uh huh.
A: And I and my colleague, we were these so-called Loyal Realistic.
V: Uh huh.
A: Realists. And so another colleague of ours made a joke that me and my colleague, we will never quit the school because of that.
V: Uh huh.
A: Unless we die. So, that’s not so funny actually. That’s pretty sad, but that’s who I am and I cannot change that.
V: This is called Myers-Briggs test.
V: With 16 personalities.
V: Mm hm.
A: So you can do it for fun if you want to find out more about yourself.
V: Yeah, it’s interesting to find out your own personality type, because then you might discover something too, about yourself, what you really value, right? About other people, maybe, who are close to you.
A: Well, it’s good to know your strengths and weaknesses.
V: Mm hm.
A: Because I think all of these personality types have their own strengths and their own weaknesses.
V: Do you think that this test is accurate enough?
A: Yes, I guess it is, because from what I see about your character, you are real Enthusiast.
V: Mm hm. Extrovert?
A: More extrovert than I am.
V: There are more gradations than just introvert/extrovert in that test.
A: Sure, sure.
V: Because there are 16 kinds of personalities.
A: But you know, sometimes, I remember myself taking the test and answering some questions, and I had doubts sometimes, which one answer to select. It means that, you know, I might have other personal qualities as well. Not that the only one.
V: Mm hm. So, lots of things to think about. If you want to find out your own personality test, check out Myers-Briggs test. It’s available for free online obviously.
A: Yes, because I think our personality types also determines the way we practice the organ.
A: And knowing that, also can help us to improve the quality of practice on the organ.
V: Yeah. For some people, doing this very strict practice of counting the repetitions, and eliminating mistakes, and practicing scales and arpeggios is too rigid, right?
V: They want to be more free and more independent, and to feel artistic inspiration. But for others, it’s the opposite, right?
V: They want to be strict.
A: It’s a pain.
V: Yeah. When somebody tells you, “You can do anything,” they don’t know what to do.
V: And when to other people, you say, “No, no no, you cannot do this. Only do this: 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3.” It’s too restrictive, and they feel very limited.
A: And I guess also because of the personality types, for one person it’s easy to sit down on the organ bench and to practice for a few hours straight, but somebody might get tired after playing for like 15 minutes.
V: Right. Thank you, guys, for listening. For applying our tips to your practice. We know they really work. It’s difficult to apply them, but when you do, it’s really worth it. Please send us more of your questions - we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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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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