Many organists share a common dream - to be able to play effortlessly on the organ like the masters do. They want to achieve this level, when the listeners have the impression that their fingers and feet play without any conscious effort from their part. If you would like to reach such heights in organ playing, study the following 6 tips.
1) Pay attention to details. When you are practicing a new organ composition, make sure that musical text is correct. This includes playing without mistakes such details as notes, rhythms, fingering, pedaling, articulation, phrasing, ornaments and registration. To achieve the best results, play the above points at least 3 times correctly in a row.
2) Develop a good finger and pedal technique. If you truly wish to play the organ at the level of world-class organists, you should regularly practice some special finger and pedal exercises which will strengthen your technique. My personal favorite exercise collections are Hanon's "Virtuoso Pianist" and George Ritchie's and George Stauffer's Örgan Technique: Modern and Early.
3) Use pedal and finger preparation. This technique is one of the main tricks used for playing automation. In order to successfully implement it in your practice, try to work in short fragments repeatedly. As you depress one pedal with one foot, slide the other foot in a position for the next note immediately and let it rest there waiting for its turn to play. The same principle applies in finger preparation.
4) Correct your mistakes. If you play your organ composition from the beginning until the end, there is a high risk of making mistakes in many places. It is best to work in fragments of 1-8 measures at a time depending on the level of difficulty. Once you make a mistake, go back to the beginning of the fragment, correct your mistake and play this fragment at least 3 times.
5) Practice in a slow tempo. Your organ playing will be much more precise if you practice at a tempo in which you can avoid mistakes. This usually means taking a slow tempo. Remember that practice is not the same as performance. While performing the piece you might be required to play much faster, slow down in your everyday practice to achieve the best results.
6) Keep your fingers and your feet in contact with the keyboard and the pedal board at all times. This technique will allow you to feel the keyboard and the pedal board better. This means that although the finger or the foot is not playing, it should still be touching the key or the pedal. Just let them rest on the keys or the pedals.
As you can see, your practice should be very focused and precise. You must have a very clear picture of what it is you are trying to accomplish in each practice session. If you want to be able to play the organ effortlessly like any of the top-level organists can, start using the above 6 tips today.
You can also 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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Our Hauptwerk Setup:
Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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.