Sep. 8, 2018

Why Learn The Organ

"Every child is an artist until he's told he's not an artist."
--John Lennon

We learn the organ for many reasons, among which is to fulfill our desire to nurture our creativity and, in so doing, to follow our dream.
We know why an organist seeks to acquire basic proficiency at the piano -- the organist typically doubles as choir rehearsal pianist and thus needs some piano work to learn how to coax sound from a piano, not to mention develop sight reading skills, basic musicianship, the hands, and so on.
But why should a pianist make it a point to learn something about organ playing? ...
For starters, even though Beethoven never posed for it, the organ is not a special form of piano (photo); the two instruments share the same chromatic keyboard of twelve keys to the octave, but beyond that the two have nothing in common.
At times it may be necessary in fact to remind others less well informed that, despite the similarity in their keyboards, the organ and the piano, in terms of how they produce, attack, and sustain their sounds, are two different animals that are worlds apart.
The pianist who doubles on the organ is in a position however to sub for worship services and play for weddings, funerals, or graduation and installation ceremonies when a piano may not be available or the occasion calls for the organ to play.
They can widen their association with other musicians and broaden their prospects for part time employment for other organ and piano gigs, and attract piano students this way; if it becomes known that a pianist can play even a little at the organ, over time they'll get calls.
Think about it; a piano has one keyboard and makes one sound; an organ has from one to five or more keyboards, plus a keyboard for the feet and can make many different sounds -- thus we have many more options, plus we get to work our feet on a keyboard.
The piano came into use about in the mid-18th century, but we have manuscripts of notated keyboard music dating back to the 15th century, and those manuscripts contain some pieces likely composed in the 14th century and earlier, thus, we have more music to play -- 700 years of it.
The pneumatic pipe organ is older than the piano, older than the harpsichord, older than the clavichord ... its sound is older in fact than the sound of any of the instruments we recognize as being members of the grand symphony orchestra today, save perhaps for the drums and harp.
But there's one more reason -- an important one ... maybe the best one of all:
Johann Sebastian Bach didn't have a piano; if we really want to understand contrapuntal keyboard music like that of Bach's, we should try playing it on an organ.
As John Lennon so rightly pointed out, until a discouraging word is planted in a child's mind they are capable of great artistic and creative growth.
In most cases that discouragement is not planted by some other person in a child's life; it's planted in their mind very early in life, by Resistance [See blog, The Book, Part I].
Such children grow into adults who, when they believe they can't do something, they're probably right -- which is exactly why the mind is the chief culprit with most playing problems [See blog, Law Of The Mind].

Share this page