Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Pianist tackles the Organ

One of the simultaneously exhilarating and frustrating aspects of my chosen profession is the ongoing learning opportunities that present themselves.  Usually in the form of "we need you to be able to do this ... publicly. And immediately."

This time, it's the church organ: a 3 manual Series Classical Allen Organ, to be played two services a week.  For a pianist the biggest challenges are:

To my incredible fortune, the church was happy to pay for organ lessons (filed under 'professional development'), and I found a wonderful guru who introduced me to the wonders of registrations, pedaling, and the organist's ability to be expressive by 'bending time and space'. Ultimately I've enjoyed the challenge I've been presented with, and am finally getting to where I feel like I'm 'making music' instead of  'successfully hitting notes'.  

Warning for all considering crossing over: on the organ, your pianist superpowers don't matter.  Your touch, your control and your flashy chops aren't as vital to success - instead you need to learn to listen in an entirely different way.  You have to think as an orchestrator - on 3 to 4 levels - and use the space in between notes way more than before.  And you need to learn how to separate your left hand and your feet, which often want to become one in your brain.   

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