When an organist who doesn’t normally practices on mechanical organs goes to perform in public on an instrument which has mechanical stop action, a lot of unexpected things might happen. Changing stops on such instrument is not the same as pushing the combination piston on the organ equipped with combination action. If you are not used to mechanical organs, you may even get thrown off balance and the overall quality of your performance might suffer.
Here are some things to consider if you want to change stops by yourself during a performance in public:
1. Change stops by hand only in places where at least one of your hands are free.
2. If you need a quick change, plan it so that you pull or push only a few of the stops at a time.
3. Consider which hand is free for this change and choose the stops on that side of the console.
4. Don‘t grab more than two stops at a time as some instruments have a heavy stop action.
5. Don’t take the registration changes for granted. Practice them ahead of time repeatedly.
6. Some pieces with large amount of stop changes will work better on organs with combination action so choose the repertoire wisely.
If you don't have access to an actual instrument on which you will be performing, contact the local organist and get several detailed pictures of the console and pedalboard. This way you can plan your stop changes away from the instrument and you will not waste any precious time when you have the rehearsal.
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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.