The Parable of the Pipe Organ

In all the time I have spent playing the organ and crawling around pipe chambers, the following analogy has never crossed my mind. But as soon as I read it, I thought, “Yes! Of course!! Why didn’t I think of that?” It was so meaningful to me that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share it with other organists.

This week we have the opportunity to visit our son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons. We went with them to church yesterday. Their sanctuary has a large pipe organ with many ranks of pipes. Before service I was thinking about those pipes. Each pipe has only one function, to play one specific note well. Each pipe is shaped very carefully so the note is as pure as possible. At times after they are installed they need to be adjusted to be sure they stay in tune. When all of the pipes are played together by a skilled organist, they produce beautiful music.

I thought, what a parable about life. We know a few people who are multi-talented, but for most of us God has given us one ability that we do really well. That is his choice and his gift. We don’t have to compare ourselves to anyone else, be envious of anyone, and we have no reason to be puffed up with pride.

God works on us through His Word, and through life situations to help us understand our talent and deepen our skill. When we are all added to the rest of the Body of Christ there is beautiful harmony. God, Himself, is the organist, and what a joy it is to be a part of this one whole living body.

re-posted from Life’s Meaning Ministries


Learning From the Master

One of the most impressive examples of effective teaching is found in Christ’s use of the parable. A parable is very listener-friendly. It conveys to the hearer religious truth in proportion to the listener’s faith and ability to understand; to some it is a mere story, while to others it reveals the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

While I don’t claim to reveal anything as significant as the truths found in the parables of Jesus, the use of the following video of Alena Hicken Hall is an attempt to teach music principles in a similar fashion. To some it could be a pleasant musical experience, enjoyable, but leave the listener largely unchanged. To others it could be a source of depth and understanding as it reveals the ‘mysteries’ of the king of instruments.

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Some basic organ techniques to watch for:

In General
• use of organ shoes
• use of both feet, heel and toe
• bold breaks between phrases
• gradual increase in volume from beginning to end

Specific Examples
• finger substitution, to maintain legato—2:37-2:40
• finger substitution, to make registration change—1:35
• finger glissando, black to white, right hand pinky—1:25
• thumb glissando, black to white, left hand thumb—2:15
• independence of line, accompaniment sustained—2:46
• independence of line, left hand sustained—2:53

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For more information on these and other organ techniques see the Pedal Points Technique pages It’s Not a Piano!, Using Your Hands, and Using Your Feet.
To listen to more lds organ music go to
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