Prelude Music for Free, Please?

From a reader in Brazil:

Hi. I’ve read your blog. I am the organist of my ward, do you know where can i find free or cheap hymns preludes to play? Sorry for the spelling i don’t speak english.

First off, kudos to you for even attempting English. It’s such a nightmare to learn as a second language. Good job!

As for the prelude question, let’s start with the freebies:
I highly recommend the LDS church’s publication of Transformations for Organ: Easy additions to create simple preludes and postludes used in conjunction with Manual Only Hymns for Organ. (Both are available for download here.) These are great arrangements of hymns that sound lovely with or without foot pedals.

If you’re the creative type but don’t know where to start, check out this re-post on Creating Preludes from Hymns.

On to the the cheap option:
Cheap is a relative term. I have listed some of my favorite preludes under the Music/Published Arrangements tab. Most of those are fairly inexpensive and easy to find in the US, but I have no idea what happens when you cross the border.

WardOrganist.com sells downloadable sheet music for LDS organists. Buying arrangements individually is generally more expensive per piece than buying a book. But WardOrganist.com allows you to view and hear the piece before you buy.

Hopefully that will give you some direction.

Boa sorte 🙂

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!

. . .

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.

. . .

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.

. . .

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!

. . .

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

. . .

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.

. . .

Beware the wrath of the church organist

Today’s post is repost of a humorous article in The Telegraph reporting on a survey of churchgoers that found that at least half have noticed their organist straying from the path of musical orthodoxy. Are you one of those organists??

Beware the wrath of the church organist – musical revenge is sweet
Photo: Getty Images

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By , Religious Affairs Editor

7:30AM BST 03 May 2013

They are the stalwart pillars of the community whose week-in, week-out dedication has kept the country’s choral traditions alive for generations.

But, if new research is be believed, behind the quiet exterior the humble church organist is not someone to be crossed.

While charged with providing spiritually uplifting music to worshippers, it seems many also seize the opportunity to extract subtle revenge on clerics who have displeased them or simply play pranks on congregations.

A survey of churchgoers found that at least half have noticed their organist straying from the path of musical orthodoxy at some point – slipping snippets of heavy metal classics, advertising jingles and even nursery rhymes into hymns and anthems.

In some cases it can be a means of waging musical war with clerics while in others it is simply an effort by bored organists to make the choir laugh.

Christian Research, a polling and research group asked its 2,000 strong “Resonate” panel of churchgoers for their views on church music and organists.

Of those who responded, half said they had noticed an organist slipping unexpected tunes into services.

Among examples cites was that of the organist in Scotland who had fallen out with some of the elders in the Kirk but got his own back by inserting a thinly disguised rendition of “Send in the Clowns” as they processed in for a Sunday service.

Elsewhere, a vicar sacked an organist after he played “Roll out the Barrel” at the funeral of a man known to have been fond of a drink.

In one decidedly high church congregation, an organist punctured the mood of reverence as an elaborately dressed clergyman processed back after the gospel reading – by playing the theme tune to The Simpsons.

Another congregation found themselves passing around the collection plate to the strains of “Money, Money, Money” by Abba.

The survey uncovered examples of Eucharist celebrations livened up with renditions of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”; the theme tunes from the Magic Roundabout, Blackadder and Harry Potter and even “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts”.

Sung Evensong – widely regarded as the jewel in the crown of English choral music – has been spiced up such unexpected offerings as “I’m a Barbie Girl” and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”

One organist who responded confessed to playing hits by Oasis, Billy Bragg and even Kylie Minogue in services but added: “Nobody notices – I do it all the time.”

But when an organist played a slowed-down version of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins, even the most tone deaf members of the congregation eventually recognised, sending them into gales of laughter.

An older bridegroom took it in good humour when the organist played “No one loves a fairy when she’s 40” at his wedding” while candidates at a confirmation service were left perplexed to hear the strains of “I’m a Little Teapot” from the organ loft.

Stephen Goddard, of Christian Research, said: “It’s an oft-repeated adage in church circles – ‘What’s the difference between an organist and a terrorist? -you can negotiate with a terrorist’.

“Hidden from view, your local church organist may appear unassuming and self-deprecating, but like any true artist, he or she can be eccentric, mischievous and very opinionated.

“Mess with him at your peril – he will pull out all the stops to get his own back.”

The poll was conducted ahead of the Christian Resources Exhibition, a trade fair for all things ecclesiastical in London later this month, which will be showpiecing new organs among other things.