Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 2013 Lesson - A lesson in multitasking

A couple of Saturdays ago, I traveled to Toledo for an organ lesson. The theme of the lesson became multitasking as I had trouble learning the new hymns and Bach piece assigned at my previous lesson. What do you think of first when you here "multitasking"? I think of my job where I often have several tasks going at once. 

How does this apply to an organist?  

Organists need to be very good at multitasking to be successful. Each hand and foot usually has it's own "task" to handle. The notes for the left hand will not be the same as the right. The feet are playing the pedals. The tempo must remain consistent. Registration (stops) may need to be changed throughout a piece. Pages may need to be turned. Some organists also direct a choir while they play! 

I've learned that playing the organ is harder than it looks! To improve more quickly, I need to practice each "task" independently. For example, learning the part for each hand separately before playing them together. 

What could you learn more quickly if you broke it down into smaller pieces?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Music from Sainte-Clotilde, Ypsilanti Pipe Organ Festival

On February 17th, 2013 I attended an organ concert presented by the Ypsilanti Pipe Organ Festival at thFirst Presbyterian Church in Ypsilanti, MI. Five of the six organists are students of James Kibbie at the University of Michigan. All pieces played were composed by former organists at Sainte Clotilde in Paris, France from 1863 to 1987:
  • C├ęsar Franck, 1863-1890
  • Gabriel Pierne, 1890-1898
  • Charles Tournemire, 1898-1939
  • Joseph Ermend Bonnal, 1942-1944
  • Jean Langlais, 1945-1987
A complete listing of past and current organists at Sainte-Clotilde can be found here.

This concert was excellent. The organists may be students, but don't let "student" fool you into assuming that are not first class organists. Most of the students already hold organists positions at area churches and are accomplished organists. 
Organ at First Presbyterian Church in Ypsilanti, MI
Like the Christmas Concert at First United Methodist Church, this concert showed two views of the organist and console on a screen. Two alternating views were displayed - hands on the key boards and feet on the pedals. 

Each organist shared a little about the piece they were about to play or about the composer. The information varied from fun fact to stories. Organist and composer Jean Langlais was blind!

The next Ypsilanti Pipe Organ Festival concert will be held on March 17, 2013 at 4:00 PM at the First Presbyterian Church in Ypsilanti, MI. Program details can be found on their website: http://wp.ypsipipes.org/