Do you remember the feeling when your dad let you sit on his lap and turn the wheel of his car? It was awesome, wasn't it? Your head literally started to spin.
Organ playing can be like that, too. Especially on a large instrument.
During this week's rehearsal of our Unda Maris studio one student was playing a piece in a classical style by Pietro Yon, an Italian-born composer and organist from the 1st half of the 20th century who made his career in the US.
The entire piece has melody and accompaniment texture with some elements of fanfare music in the right hand. It is to be played by one type of loud registration throughout. But the last passages require additional stops to create Fortissimo effect.
Vidas and I normaly would help our students change registration during our practices and this time was not an exception. Vidas draw out Bombarde 16' on the Great at the end during the grand rest which created a magnificent closing of the piece.
However, when the student played this episode one more time, we let him draw this Bombarde by himself.
Afterwards we asked him how it felt.
He said, "it felt like taming a wild horse".
That's exactly right. If you rely on combination system and pistons or perhaps on assistants to change the stops for you, try to do it yourself once in a while.
It's not easy at first, you have to practice repeatedly to coordinate your hand movements while playing the organ and changing the stops.
But it certainly gives you a sense of respect for your instrument.
It's not like you're just turning the wheel while sitting on your dad's lap in the car and he does the driving. Rather it's like you drive the car yourself.
With a clutch and accelerator pedals and stick shift.
Like taming a wild horse, it's dangerous. It's raw energy. Anything can happen. You look the beast in the eye. You sense her power. She only lets you pet her. But with one blink of an eye she could smash your head with her hooves.
It's the same with wielding pipe organ, I think.