There are numerous instances in organ music, where the organist has to change position of the feet. Such places might include scale passages, ascending and descending melodic lines, sequences etc. If such passage is played incorrectly for extended periods of time, chances of developing lower back pain are quite high. If you are curious to know how such lines should be performed, this article is for you.
First of all, it is important to maintain the straight position of the upper body, face the music rack, and point your knees to the direction of the feet. However, in playing melodic lines which extend from the right side of the pedal board to the left side (or vice versa) it is not possible to perform such passages with ease and fluency without changing position. In other words, if you play on the right side of the pedal board with your both feet and have to jump suddenly downwards to the left side, you have to switch to different position.
Push-Off With the Opposite Foot When Changing Position
When suddenly changing direction and position on the pedal board, apply the following trick and you will be able to achieve the precision without pain and strain of the lower back. If you play on the right side of the pedal board and want to switch to the left side, find a suitable note in your music and push-off with your right foot. As you push-off with this foot, move your lower body in a position where your both knees are pointing in the direction of the feet (left in this case). On the contrary, push-off with the left foot, if the melodic line ascends to the right.
It is very convenient to change position on the long note of the pedal line. However, if you see only fast-moving notes in such episode, you still can achieve the same effect with correct repetitive practice. Take this fragment, and play it in a slow tempo a few times and try to change position as described above. Practice this fragment until you can play it correctly at least three times in a row.
Consult Your Physician If the Pain Persists
Note that the above trick applies only in cases when the lower back pain arises from the incorrect playing habit. However, as we all understand, lower back pain might have various different reasons. In such cases and if the pain persists, it is best to consult your physician for medical advice.
The correct technique of changing the position is discussed in detail in Organ Technique: Modern and Early by George Ritchie and George Stauffer which I highly recommend.
By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments - the pipe organ? If so, download my FREE video guide: "How to Master Any Organ Composition" in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.
Many organists who try to perfect their pedal technique play pedal exercises on the organ. However, it is not uncommon for them to feel the pain in the lower back area. Although the reasons for this pain might be several, today I am going to write about the pain which arises from incorrect playing technique. If you feel the pain in your lower back when playing pedal exercises on the organ, read on to find out the possible solution.
Keep Your Upper Body Straight
In order to avoid back pain, it is best to sit up straight on the organ bench. To achieve that, sometimes it helps to imagine that a string is attached to your head and it extends very far upward. Maintain the erect position and do not slouch. If you hunch and bend your upper body forward with your head down, your posture will not be correct and this situation may be the cause of future problems.
On the other hand, if you sit up straight, at once you will start to feel the difference in your breathing as well. Since breath, our posture, and organ technique are so much connected, it is important to observe the above point about the position on the organ bench.
Point Your Knees to the Direction of the Feet
Now, when your position at the organ console is correct, you can begin to work on the right way to play the pedals which may reduce the lower back pain. As you press any pedal, your knees should be pointing to the direction of your feet. In other words, try to avoid the situation when your knees point outward and the feet – inward. This is especially important, if you play in the extreme edges of the pedal board. Many organists perform such places incorrectly and as a result, they feel awkward. In fact, the lower back pain might arise from the incorrect pedal technique.
If you play in the extreme left of the pedal board, keep your upper body straight but your lower body (the legs) should be facing left. On the contrary, in order to play in the extreme right side of the pedal board – switch to the right side with your legs but face the music rack with your upper body.
You will be surprised, how much easier it will become for you to play pedal
scales and other exercises with your feet this way.
An invaluable resource for pedal exercises is Organ Technique: Modern and Early by George Ritchie and George Stauffer which I highly recommend.
By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments - the pipe organ? If so, download my FREE video guide: "How to Master Any Organ
Composition" in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.
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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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