Welcome to the Discussion page—a place to learn and a place for you to share. Don’t be shy . . . we want to hear from you!

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Here are our latest questions. (Click on the title to read comments or to add your own comment to the topic.)

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 Music Notation Software

Do you have a music-writing software program that you would recommend for organ music? I tried the 30-day free download from Finale and I was just starting to learn how to use the program when my trial period expired.  I would like to be able to continue writing duets and special arrangements for my students, but I can’t afford $600 for the Finale program.

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Working with Church Leaders

Most of the organists I know who have taken any type of lessons through schools have learned to be creative, enhancing the text with registration, proper use (or non-use) of pedal, volume, soloing out a part on another manual, key changes, etc.  My ward music chairman has asked me to be VERY conservative and feels that most of the things I do are calling undue attention to the organ, which is not my intent. What should I do?

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Sacrament Hymn

What should I do when the sacrament hymn is done, but the priests aren’t? I really don’t like playing the same hymn over and over.

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Organ Shoes

I’ve been playing the pedals in stocking feet for awhile and my friend told me I should get organ shoes. Just wondering—what do other organists think about shoes vs stocking feet?

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Help! I am trying to learn to use the pedals. Where do I start?

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14 thoughts on “Discussion

  1. I’m sorry, I don’t really belong on this forum – but! Can anyone tell me what that amazing organ piece was that was played at the Notre Dame memorial on Sunday. Very gothic and scary, but may well be a modern piece – loads of discords and drama. I’ve tried looking everywhere but had no luck.

  2. I’d start with hymns with easy pedal. I have a list of hymns with easy pedal for new lds hymnal.
    When I started to play organ I marked pedals in my hymn book. It was old hymnbook. The music was more difficult than new hymnal. My advice is play easy pedal first. Identify intervals between each pedal note played.
    You don’t have to play pedal for difficult parts of a hymn. You have a choice.

  3. I am the organist for my ward. I am a very tall woman (6’2) with size 13 shoes. I can’t buy organ shoes. I’ve seen the shoes for men and will not wear them. I’ve been playing the organ since I was 15. That’s 48 years. I’ve been playing in my stocking feet ever since I was 15. Thank goodness I have no problem with the pedals.

  4. Are you telling me there is such a thing as a (very expensive) designated “organ shoe”?? All you need is a good pair of firm soles, slippy but not too slippy – something you could comfortably do ballroom dancing in. What the uppers look like is irrelevant, so long as they’re able to keep the soles in place on the bottom of your feet 🙂

    I got mine in a charity shop for a couple of £s twenty years ago, and I’m not really expecting to replace them, ever. I don’t know about the US, but in this country every organ console is decorated with at least one spare pair of beat-up old organ shoes, usually gents’, and usually in black 🙂

  5. 1. play the hymn again, on the swell with soft flutes or something like that, perhaps manuals only
    2. you can’t play the organ well without shoes on
    3. to learn pedals, practice the hymn over and over with pedals only (bass notes), then add the LH (tenor notes) + pedals, and lastly add the RH (alto/soprano)

  6. People who don’t like organ shoes have never tried organ shoes. I played in bare feet for years, insisting I was a “tactile” person and needed to feel the pedals. I finally grew up enough to try a pair of organ masters thinking I could always take them off when the mood struck me. The mood doesn’t strike me.
    In fact, I’ve decided happiness is strapping on my organ shoes 🙂

  7. About the organ shoes; I agree wholeheartedly with Mike Nield — organ shoes are a MUST for correct and comfortable pedaling. I didn’t think I could feel the pedals for awhile, so I pedaled in stocking feet. Finally I broke down and bought them and thought, “I’ll probably regret this.” What a surprise when I put them on and immediately became a BETTER organist! I mean, IMMEDIATELY. I was astounded. Everything I had been taught was actually true! (There’s great comfort in that, isn’t there?)
    So, if I taught organ lessons, I would insist that my students use organ shoes. My original teacher did not. Don’t know why….but I’m glad I figured it out on my own. I won’t — can’t — play without them.
    Follow Mike’s advice about how to get started with the shoes. I pretty-much did what he said and used the shoes gradually in Sacrament Meeting, not believing that I still wouldn’t mess up. But it wasn’t long before I was using them for every hymn, every Sunday.

  8. Step one is to get a pair of organ shoes. This is non-negotiable. Pedaling without shoes is like playing baseball without mitt. Try eBay. You can often find a pair of organmasters for around $40.

    Step two is to learn the basics: Organ Tutor is great, but if you don’t have it try http://organlessons.blogspot.com/p/list-of-lessons.html, lessons 6 and 7.

    Step three is to practice. I made a rule where I had to play pedals on one hymn each Sunday I played. I didn’t always get the pedals good enough to actually play them on Sunday at first, but I’d practice them all week. Eventually I got to where I could play them on one hymn, and then I worked up to two hymns each Sunday, etc.

    Pick a phrase, maybe 4 measures, and set a metronome really slow. Start with the right hand and get that down, then add the pedal to that and get that down. Then start the left hand alone and get to where you can play that, then add then add the pedal to the left hand. Then put everything together. Then add 5 beats to the metronome and try again.

    To paraphrase the great organist Winston Churchill, “never, never, never give up.”

  9. I find that when I’m accountable to someone (like needing to figure out a pedal part for an upcoming hymn or preparing exercises for my next organ lesson) I do better at actually practicing the pedals. I, too, have used the OrganTutor lessons and find them very helpful. Make sure your bench is the correct height for the length of your legs (OrganTutor covers that point) and you might just try practicing scales. Having a pair of organ shoes is a must!

  10. I had to spend a lot more time practicing with just my left hand and my feet together. My right hand did just fine when I played the pedals, but the left hand needed a little more practice time to learn to ‘disconnect’ from my feet.

    Also, the Pedal section in OrganTutor (by Don Cook) is great! I highly recommend it.

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