My Two Part Training is based on the philosophy of Pay What You Want which is based on generosity and trust. Every student who is interested will be able to pay for this course the amount that he/she chooses. I trust my students to choose a price that is right for them without taking advantage of the system.
Of course, you are not paying for this course, you are paying for the results that you will get from taking this course. Therefore, the worst thing you can do is to pay, download the materials which will arrive to your email inbox, and do nothing with them.
This course in itself will not teach you to play polyphonically complex music in two part texture (with or without pedals) in 24 different keys. Only taking action will.
I hope you will join me because now you can set your price for how valuable this course is to you.
Last night I decided to create a new course for people who have 3 things in common: they like Bach's organ music, they like playing in many different keys, and they like playing in two-part texture. If you are one of them, I think you'll enjoy it. You can register for it here.
You may have already seen the video and the score of my Op. 2 composition - A Theme and 4 Easy Variations on Meinen Jesum lass ich nicht. I have created this piece back in 2007 but only a few days ago finished transcribing it from my handwriting into the Sibelius notation. Today I will tell you how the piece is constructed and what its musical language is.
I composed this piece while experimenting with major and minor chords and the Dominant seventh chords. At that time I was looking for some colorful techniques that would sound rather modern and at the same time still could be appreciated by the untrained listeners.
As the title suggests, the Theme opens the cycle. It has simple four-part chordal texture and is best played with the Principal 8' stop. The harmonization is not based on the rules of Classical harmony, though. Surprise and colorfulness are very prevalent concepts here.
Variation 1 is a bicinium in 4/4 meter for two parts with a recurring melody - the Ritornello. The chorale tune is in the soprano, played by the 8' reed and the bass - with the 16' reed. In the video I use Oboe and Basson.
Variation 2 is a trio in 6/8 meter. The tune is in the lowest voice and this episode is best played on 8' and 4' flutes. This variation also has the Ritornello.
Variation 3 is a quartet in 3/4 meter with an eight-note motion and I recommend Principals 8', 4', and 2' for the registration. Chorale phrases are connected by the three-part Ritornello.
Variation 4 is a fast-paced Toccata with a simple sixteenth-note figure moving in one of the hands. It's very convenient for performer. The other hand takes the four-note 43 chords in parallel motion and plays the chorale tune.
As you can see, the first 3 variations are composed using Baroque techniques - popular meters and the Ritornello. But the harmonic language is far from Baroque. I use three-note major and minor chords (together with the dominant seventh chords and their inversions). Mostly they are built a minor or a major third apart (up or down) which gives quite a colorful feeling for the entire cycle (you can sense this right from the opening measures of the theme).
Before learning this piece, first try to understand the chords and their inversions. For this to happen, look at every beat, take the bass note and build the chord upwards in a closed position to see what kind of inversion this is. Make a mental note of what kind of interval is used between the chords in each case.
I'm excited to announce that the work on putting Meinen Jesum lass ich nicht (trans. "I will not abandon my Jesus" based on the melody of the Lutheran choral of the same name), Op. 2 (2007) into Sibelius notation is done. You can access the score here. On that page you will also see the video where I perform it on the 3 manual organ at Vilnius University St. John's church.
The idea for this piece came to me when I was first experimenting with major and minor chords and dominant seventh chords and their inversions and found out what kind of colorful things you can do with them.
Enjoy! If you want to get my comments on how this piece is put together and my advice on learning it, feel free to let me know.
Lately I've been working on transcribing into Sibelius notation from my not-so-legible handwriting my Op. 2 composition - A Theme and 4 Easy Variations on Meinen Jesum lass' ich nicht (2007). Here's the video, if you're curious how it sounds. My work is almost done - I'll post the score for anybody who's interested to learn and share it very soon.
So today I thought I would give you an exercise in counterpoint on this lovely tune. You will need to play note-against-note two-part counterpoint with the intervals of thirds and sixths in alternation and vice versa. It's best to start and end with an octave.
By the way, this is the easiest way to start to improvise on any hymn tune. It seems simple but to do it fluently will take a bit of practice. But don't worry - even if you haven't improvised anything before, with a few minutes of practice you'll do just fine. Improvisation can be as complex as you want but this is the first step. I hope you'll enjoy it.
Play this counterpoint exercise of hymn tune Meinen Jesum lass' ich nicht. Here is the PDF score for printing. Repeat it until you can do it 3 times in a row slowly but fluently.
When you're done practicing, post your time to comments.
"I'm getting hungry now. I should go and make a sandwich."
"I should be doing something else, something more urgent."
"It's too difficult. I can't continue."
"I wonder how this piece sounds. I'll just play it once and come back to the one I'm practicing right now later."
"I think it's good enough. I should stop."
These thoughts will come to you again and again as you practice. It's inevitable. They are part of who you are. How you react to these distractions and excuses is a different story.
Sure, you can shut down your computer during the time of practice. Or you can practice only after a nice lunch. Or you can choose only the easy pieces, the ones you can almost sight-read.
Or you can learn to be aware of these distractions but ignore them. The feeling is sort of like looking at yourself from a distance.
Everyone of us has overcome them at least once and continued practicing with focus. Surely you can do it again.
With hundreds and even thousands of organ pieces to choose from, some people are rather lost. They like this and like that. One day they practice a Baroque composition and the second day - Romantic. And I don't mean they sight-read, no, they practice and perfect them.
Sometimes organist chooses a piece which is too difficult for him at the moment. But he likes the piece so much and tries to work it out. Another time, it's quite the opposite - the piece is very easy but artistic quality is really low.
Choosing wisely what to practice is an advantage. What's more important, though, is deciding to practice in the first place.
This thought has occurred to every organist at least once. Today one part of the organists will give in to this idea. Another part will face themselves and practice anyway.
Which group do you think will reach their goal?
Which group do you belong to?
There are times when an organist working in a church feels the need to make a special choir arrangement of an anthem, create a hymn or compose an organ verset. Long gone are the days when one would take a sheet of paper and a pencil, write the music and photocopy the music sheet and hand it to the choir members. Handwriting might work for private use easily but if you work with other people, you have to use music notation software, online or offline.
Although I personally work with Sibelius, if you are looking for a program, you can try Finale. Both Finale and Sibelius are considered leaders in the industry today. They constantly upgrade their software and you could be sure you will get a newest version. A great thing about most music notation programs is that you can save the files in MIDI or MusicXML formats which lets you transfer them to any other notation program that you want.
Besides Sibelius or Finale, other programs available are MagicScore Maestro, Forte Home, QuickScore, QuickScore Elite, Notation Composer, NoteWorthy Composer, Music MasterWorks, and Play Music. There are some free programs, too - MuseScore, Lylipond, Finale Notepad, and Musink.
While you have to install one of these programs on your computer, wouldn't it be great, if you could do the same things these programs do but only online without the need of installation of software which can be expensive at times? Well, there are a number of online music notation services. The one that I'm happiest with is Noteflight. It's pretty new and the service is quite basic but they will certainly improve in the future.
Armed with an online or offline music notation program, a church organist can be quite productive in his music output and these technologies are without a doubt a must for anyone who wants to be successful today.
Quite a few organists perform with the help of assistants who turn pages and change registrations for them. This is very convenient, if you have a good assistant at hand - no need to memorize music, no need to take care of stop changes, no need to improvise. The organist only has to play what's written on the score.
But you not always will have an assistant next to you - during the liturgy and even during recitals, you have to handle the situation yourself when there is no one to turn the pages for you. Registration can be simplified but often it's the organist who has to turn the pages.
It's quite convenient to turn the pages by yourself when music layout on the page is wisely thought through by the editor. In such cases, one hand is silent for about one measure during the turn of the page. This is quite sufficient.
But don't think that even when you can do it yourself it is easy - you have to repeat this motion of the hand 10-50 times in slow motion so that your playing would not be affected by the turn. Don't take this for granted - always rehearse your page turns repeatedly.
It's even more difficult when the layout of the music on the page is rather wide and at the end of the page (when you have to do the turn) both hands are busy playing. Here's what I recommend in this case - continue your playing with the right hand and with your left make a rest and turn the page. Because the top voices sound more clear than the bottom voices, a short silence in the left hand part while you're playing smoothly will not be a problem to anyone.
PS. The technology of today has already solved this problem - when you play from your tablet, you can use a special app with the foot pedal. Simply press the pedal and the page turns by itself. But again - don't forget to rehearse this foot movement repeatedly.
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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.