Washington SALSA: Linda Wells

SALSA—Society of Awesome Latter-day Saint Accompanists

Linda Wells from Longview Washington loves playing the organ. So far in her 63 years of life she has served as organist in three different wards. And that’s fine, but more would be even better because, as she says, “Ward Organist is my favorite calling.”

Take a moment to get acquainted with Linda, our newest member of the Society of Awesome Latter-day Saint Accompanists, then go to Questionnaire and tell us your story!

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Linda Wells—Washington

What was the first musical calling you received? When I was still in high school, I was called to be the pianist in Primary. (Primary was during the weekdays back then.) I was very nervous and hadn’t taken piano lessons, only organ. I made it through however.

When did you start playing the organ?  I always wanted to play a musical instrument. My sister and brother were given the chance to play the piano and accordian but they both bombed out. I don’t think my mom and dad wanted to risk the time and money on me. Finally, close to my 15th birthday, my dad said I would get the chance to take organ lessons. My mom and I shared the same birthday. We were getting an organ for our birthdays. I never did figure out if I would get the lower and upper manual. I got to take lessons for three years and I loved the lessons. I dove right in and really enjoyed it. I’m so thankful that my parents let me take lessons.

Do you play any other instruments?  Let’s see. I play AT the piano. I’ll play in Relief Society if the regular pianist is absent. I dabble at the harmonica. I can play a comb with tissue paper on it. I can play the kazoo.

Which instrument do you prefer? I think, yep I know, I prefer the organ.

What is your favorite hymn?  Did You Think to Pray

What is your favorite prelude or postlude piece?  I like to play The Lord is My Shepherd. This is the prelude. For postlude I like to play Lord, Dismiss Us With Thy Blessing. I like that one because I can play it by heart.

What sort of things do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I enjoy playing with my grandchildren and helping out in the kindergarten class where my son teaches and going to movies with my family.

What is one of the challenges you face as an LDS organist? I have never been taught how to use all of the pulls and knobs on the big organ at church to make various sounds. I just play what sounds best to me.

What is one of the blessings you have received through accepting the call to serve as an organist? This is the third ward where I’ve been the organist. I’ve learned how to play for the congregation without getting nervous. I know if I pray before I practice and play on Sundays, I do a much better job. Heavenly Father has called me to this position for a reason and He trusts me to do my best. As long as I try to do my best, He will bless me with more ability. I can only hope and pray that I’ll always be able to play.

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Thanks for introducing yourself to us, Linda!
Are you or someone you know ready to join SALSA? Just go to the SALSA questionnaire, fill it out and submit. No cost, no obligation, no contract and no fine print. Just a wonderful opportunity for lds organists to get acquainted!
btw If you accepted the call to sit on that organ bench, you are awesome!  If you think you’re not, please see The Calling.

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Nevada SALSA: Delightfully Lemmon

SALSA—Society of Awesome Latter-day Saint Accompanists

PreludesSACDouglas Lemmon made his church organist debut at age 15. He’s written several organ, piano and choral books. One of my favorites is Preludes SAC—a great late beginner/early intermediate organ collection. Great stuff! (Thank you, Douglas, for providing the LDS organist with arrangements that are accessible (aka degree-in-music-not-required) and sound great!)

He also published a book about JJ McClellan, Tabernacle Organist called “Sweet Is The Work.” (I haven’t read that one, but I’m sure it’s good too.) Douglas and his wife Kathleen reside in Henderson, Nevada, where he teaches private and group organ lessons.

Take a moment to get acquainted with Douglas—our newest member of the Society of Awesome Latter-day Saint Accompanists, who claims that playing the organ is easy—then go to Questionnaire and tell us your story!

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Douglas Lemmon—Nevada

What was the first musical calling you received? How was that experience? Before the “block-program” in the church, I was the Junior Sunday School pianist at age 12, then the Sunday School organist and ward organist at 15. Stake Organist at 17. I loved the Junior Sunday School book and its music. Playing the hymns has been a great experience through the years.

How long have you been playing the organ?  I began piano lessons at age 6. Organ lessons began at about 12. I barely reached the pedals. My parents purchased a Baldwin organ for our home when I was 15. I think they got tired of taking me to the church every couple of days. I was always interested in the organ and was always watching the Tabernacle Organists in their noon recitals and conference. They were and are the inspiration that taught me much more than most of my teachers.

Do you play other instruments? Piano and organ are the only instruments today. I tried flute, guitar and percussion, but stayed with the keyboard instruments.

What is your favorite hymn?  There are about 341 hymns in the hymn book. Each has something special for any specific occasion. I love them all, but especially love the hymns of the restoration.

What about a favorite prelude or postlude piece? I love playing arrangements of the hymns. I have many arrangements in my books I’ve written, and love playing any of the Darwin Wolford and Robert Manookin arrangements.

What sort of things do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I don’t have a lot of spare time, but I love yard work and puttering!

What is one of the challenges you face as an LDS organist? I’ve never faced any challenge as an LDS organist. My students are taught to play appropriate music for the service and I think in the church that can be a challenge for organists. I’ve been playing for such a long time that I’ve seen many bishops and stake presidents come and go. I always meet with the new ones and ask them for their suggestions. None have ever told me to only play hymns. I think that would be a challenge for me, but it hasn’t happened because I play appropriate literature for the occasion. Somewhere I try to include Bach!

What is one of the blessings you have received through accepting the call to serve as an organist?  I’ve met many wonderful people in and out of the church as an organist. I’ve also learned that the Spirit can be strong. An organists needs to listen to those promptings.

Is there anything else you would like to share about you or your experience as an organist? Even though I’ve played for many years, there is still much to learn. I practice the organ and piano daily and encourage those holding an organist position in the church to do that also.

Organ playing is easy. Many musicians dodge playing the organ because they think it’s too difficult, especially playing pedals. I’ve maintained that playing pedals is the easiest part of organ playing. The manual technique is more difficult which will come with practice.

Want more of Douglas? Check out his website at douglaspublishingcompany.com.

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Thanks for introducing yourself to us, Douglas!
Are you or someone you know ready to join SALSA? Just go to the SALSA questionnaire, fill it out and submit. No cost, no obligation, no contract and no fine print. Just a wonderful opportunity for lds organists to get acquainted!
btw If you accepted the call to sit on that organ bench, you are awesome!  If you think you’re not, please see The Calling.

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Obituary for Douglas Earl Bush

Douglas Earl Bush was born March 1, 1947 to Joe and Phyllis Bush and died in his home on October 4, 2013 after battling cancer. Dad frequently talked about his upbringing in rural Montana — working on the farm with his grandparents, gardening, cooking, and spending time with his family.

From a young age, he had a deep love and interest in history and a strong inclination toward music and organs specifically. These two loves became the defining interests of his life. His passion for good music led him to become a world-renowned organist, a “Bach-aholic”, and beloved teacher, with a particular gift to love, motivate and inspire others to want to become better people. He was passionate about family history and temple work as though it were his second profession, spending all of his time invested in family – both here on earth, and on the other side of the veil. His faith was the guiding force in his life, along with a persistent quest for that which would bring depth, beauty and meaning to all around him. Dad had magic hands; everything he touched always bloomed. His was a life characterized by selfless service, compassion, gentleness, and excellence. He created beauty wherever he went, and we feel profoundly blessed by such a lovely father, example and friend.

He is survived by five daughters: Sarah Bush, Rebecca Buchert (Martin), Susan Bush (Joshua Trammell), Elizabeth Bush Campbell (Scott), and Christa Groesbeck (Garrett); 12 grandchildren who were the light of his life; his father, Josiah Douglas Bush (Mary Bush); and two siblings, Rick Bush (Jackie) and Dianne Reeder.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at the Provo Central Stake Center, 450 North 1220 West, Provo, Utah. Friends may call at the Berg Mortuary of Provo, 185 East Center Street, Monday from 6-8:00 p.m. and at the church Tuesday from 10-10:45 a.m. prior to services. Interment, Provo City Cemetery.

Allen on an Allen: Wisconsin SALSA

SALSA—Society of Awesome Latter-day Saint Accompanists

Although Allen Blodgett claims that having a wonderful Allen organ in his church building has nothing to do with being drawn to the instrument, I have my doubts.

Fresh from Appleton, Wisconsin (a mere 107 miles from my Alma Mater) I am pleased to present Allen Blodgett’s easy humor, unapologetic dislikes AND a video clip I tracked down of him playing an arrangement of one of his top 342 hymns. (I love Google!)

Take a moment to get acquainted with Allen—our newest member of the Society of Awesome Latter-day Saint Accompanists, then go to Questionnaire and tell us your story!

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Allen Blodgett—Wisconsin

What was the first musical calling you received? How was that experience? It wasn’t really a “calling” per se, but more of a “You play the organ, will you play in priesthood meeting today?” type of thing. Here in Wisconsin, where keyboard talent can be somewhat scarce, if they find out you play the organ, you’re guaranteed you’ll be playing until you move or you lose an arm or die or something like that. The assignment was fun, although I made lots of mistakes in my early years. Not bad considering I was about 14 or 15.

How long have you been playing the organ? Why did you start? I THINK I’ve been playing for 7 years, but it’s starting to become a blur. I started playing the organ after attending a Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza event hosted by the local American Guild of Organists chapter and really haven’t look back to the piano ever since. It’s amazing how giving out free pizza will make a young man want to play the organ.

Do you play any other instruments? If so, which instrument do you prefer? Piano–I hate it, other than playing a note softly or loudly or something in between, there’s really only ONE sound that it makes. I also sing 1st tenor, occasionally dabble into 2nd alto, and sing baritone when I have a cold. I prefer singing to playing the piano.

What is your favorite prelude or postlude piece? Prelude would be a medley of some children’s songs in the hymn book plus We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet. We have a wonderful Allen organ (the brand of the organ had NOTHING to do with me starting to play the organ) in our church building, which has the best stop selection for an organ of it’s size, but the stop layout is a whole other story (I prefer the stop jambs on the side, not above the manuals). Anyways, we’ve got a beautiful oboe in the swell and some of the prettiest flues (for an electronic organ, that is) in the great, couple the great to the pedal with a few pedal soft stops and I’m in heaven until (like clockwork) 5 minutes before sacrament meeting when EVERYBODY comes pouring into the chapel.

My all-time favorite postlude is Clay Christiansen’s arrangement of Come, Come, Ye Saints. It starts off boldly, a beautiful soft second verse which uses the oboe, clarinet, flutes, strings, etc, and finishes off with a powerful third verse that begins with just the trumpet and adding stops at the beginning of almost every phrase. To top it all off after what seems like the ending of the piece, press the general cancel button to clear the stops and if the organ has a chimes stop, play the F# below middle C three times.

What about your favorite hymn? 342. Never heard of that? All of the above. Choosing a favorite hymn would be like choosing between my children, not that I have any children yet considering I’m 20 and in a YSA [Young Single Adult] branch. Speaking of that YSA branch, a really cute young woman just started attending and she plays the organ and we’re going to be playing a duet together soon to make sure my newly finished hymn arrangement that calls for organ duet accompaniment works. *wink wink*

What sort of things do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I take BYU-Idaho pathway program, I work at Papa John’s as a delivery driver (although I don’t think my car is going to last much longer), I build computers, and I study Mack Wilberg arrangements.

What is one of the challenges you face as an LDS organist? I am the only organist in my branch, I suppose you could call me the ward music chairman as well because I pick the hymns every Sunday, especially without ever knowing the topic of the week. I have started to get to know my organ too well, I find myself wanting to have more stops and what not (if asked to help pick out the replacement organ, I’m going to lobby for a 3 manual organ with a lot more stop selections).

Another challenge I face is that I want to go “all out” on playing hymns with interludes and big fanfares, but it seems like it never seems appropriate for church.

What is one of the blessings you have received through accepting the call to serve as an organist? I have been so blessed by the fact that I’ve been able to become better and when I do slip up, the congregation often keeps on going just fine.

My biggest thing that I have been blessed with it that the YSA branch I play for has been able to sing more loudly than before, allowing me to play the organ more loudly (something I enjoy doing A LOT). I remember playing How Firm a Foundation my first week in the branch with flutes and over powering the congregation, now I can play it almost full blast and I can actually hear the congregation.

Want more of Allen? Check out his website at allenjblodgett.com

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Thanks for introducing yourself to us, Allen!
Are you or someone you know ready to join SALSA? Just go to the SALSA questionnaire, fill it out and submit. No cost, no obligation, no contract and no fine print. Just a wonderful opportunity for lds organists to get acquainted!
btw If you accepted the call to sit on that organ bench, you are awesome!  If you think you’re not, please see The Calling.

. . .