Doug Baker from Adelaide, South Australia: I must thank you again for sending so much instruction for organ playing. I wish so much that I could have had your lessons 60 years ago. It is very gracious of you to send so much information to an elderly organist. I am the delighted owner of the latest ROLAND C-380 Classic organ. Thankfully I am very fit at 85 and manage to fit in a couple of hours playing every day as well as my photography and computer interests.
Doug writes that his dream is to continue improving his sight reading and playing. As he is an elderly organist he hasn't got years ahead of him like some of my younger students to apply himself to study of organ. He finds that the days pass so quickly and there's so much he wants to do. The main obstacle for him in his practice is managing time.
When you get to the age of Doug, I guess many things in life seem very different from what you feel and see in your youth. It's true that at that age, the sense that you can dream of mastering organ playing in 20 years is not realistic. It's also true that with this age, you don't have to worry about always rushing to do things that you don't need.
You can enjoy every moment of your practice and don't feel the pressure some of my younger organists have while preparing works that they don't like but somebody else has asked them to. At 85, you simple are your own boss and can play whatever you love.
That's the easy part. The hard part is that regardless of our age, we still have our own trials. Without them we don't learn anything. Without them we don't progress to the next level.
My trial recently was to create the parts for 4 instruments (flute, oboe, violin, and euphonium) for my SATB hymn "Ave maris stella" (in Lithuanian) which will sound at St. Andrew's parish in Philadelphia in the US on the occasion of its special anniversary service.
Therefore last Sunday I not only sat down and created these parts but also recorded a live video with my narration and description of the entire creative process so that some of my readers, if they wanted, could test their skills with any hymn they like the most. I only hesitated to make the choral and organ parts more varied and simply left them doubling one another. Perhaps another time.
It's true, that we fail at some of our trials and that's OK. The only thing that matters is that we keep moving.
La Battaglia by Adriano Banchieri (1568-1634). He was an Italian composer, music theorist, and organist of the late Renaissance-early Baroque period.
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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.