Organ self-study for those with a strong musical background?
  • Geremia
    Posts: 173
    For one with a strong musical background (e.g., for one who can sight-read modern and Gregorian notation), what books are good for learning the organ? I'm looking for books that focus on playing Catholic works (i.e., by Catholic composers or liturgical works) on the organ; I'm not interested in some modern organ repertoire (such as what my friend describes as "sounding like a UFO landing" haha).

    Would Stainer's Complete Organ Method fit these requirements? Or are there other works that, unlike Stainer's, mostly contain scores for practicing?

    thanks
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  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    The Stainer book is good, but there's also the Gleason Method of Organ Playing, which is the one I learned with.
    Thanked by 1Geremia
  • Geremia
    Posts: 173
    The Stainer book is good, but there's also the Gleason Method of Organ Playing, which is the one I learned with.
    That one does seem good; it's description says "piano playing [is] a prerequisite"
    Designed for undergraduate and graduate music courses in organ; piano playing a prerequisite. Based on the author's 35 years of organ teaching and years of research as a musicologist, this reputable and well-documented text provides the musical and technical foundation necessary for mastering the art of organ playing.
  • MarkS
    Posts: 252
    If you have strong music backround/keyboard skills, I would also suggest "Organ Technique: Modern and Early" by George Ritchie and George Stauffer. It's pretty much the second Bible around here, and it introduces early organ peddling and technique along with romantic heel/toe—legato playing. I think it is really an advantage to be exposed to both, rather than learning predominately one or the other. It offers examples from a wide variety of periods and styles.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    The prerequisite of piano playing before organ is not absolutely set in stone, but it helps immensely. There are basic skills across all keyboard instruments that can transfer from one to the other. Piano before organ also has as solid historical foundation in organists learning music on the harpsichord first, then transferring it to the organ. This was practical as much as pedagogical, because in the days before electric blowers, they had to pay someone to pump the bellows in order to have organ music. It was more cost effective to practice on a harpsichord than the actual pipe organ.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,877
    the "Little Organ Book" by Flor Peeters is an easily understood and economical place to start. He was Catholic and taught using well known Catholic hymns of his day. I also have the Stainer and think it is good.
    Thanked by 2Geremia CHGiffen
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    60 Short Pieces by Flor Peeters is a good book, with lots of short pieces that are accessible for intermediate players.
  • Geremia
    Posts: 173
    Didn't Bach compose the Maria Magdalena notebook works for practicing technique?
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,124
    Your description of your skills does not render your abilities at the keyboard. While readings skills of the type you define are good and practical things, they do not necessarily assist the keyboard player.

    I suggest three things:

    A program such as the Gleason book or Wayne Leupold's method. They are comprehensive and yet well formed.

    Practice the piano.

    The other thing: find a teacher. Really! There are too many skills that need shaping by a teacher. It really helps to have a teacher help you with pedalling.

    I profoundly resent your statement about modern music. There is much good literature written by many fine composers. Modern does not equal bad. Nor does old equal good.
  • Geremia
    Posts: 173
    I profoundly resent your statement about modern music. There is much good literature written by many fine composers. Modern does not equal bad. Nor does old equal good.
    I've added the qualifier "some". I hope that's clearer.
    I'm not ageist when it comes to music, either.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,911
    The other thing: find a teacher. Really! There are too many skills that need shaping by a teacher. It really helps to have a teacher help you with pedalling.


    Seconded. There's only so much you can learn from the book. You can learn from the book, but not everything.
  • Geremia
    Posts: 173
    The other thing: find a teacher. Really! There are too many skills that need shaping by a teacher. It really helps to have a teacher help you with pedalling.
    Seconded. There's only so much you can learn from the book. You can learn from the book, but not everything.
    of course
  • Geremia
    Posts: 173
    Are any of these books mentioned above similar to the Suzuki method for other instruments? Do they, like the Suzuki books, include original (not adaptations) compositions of famous composers?
  • Geremia
    Posts: 173
    @CharlesW: Judging by this PDF of Little Organ Book, it seems very good! It uses sacred hymns, too. I'm going to print it out and comb-bind it. Thanks!
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,877
    It's good. The last time I bought one from Amazon it was around $10. or so. Peeters was through and through a Catholic musician. He was one of the editors of the Nova Organi Harmonia. A world class organist and composer.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Geremia
  • Geremia
    Posts: 173
    @CharlesW: Zoran Minderovic's entry on Peeters in Contemporary Musicians:
    Particularly captivating are his fluid, natural, finely wrought melodies. A well-known example of Peeters's art is his Toccata, fuga en hymn op "Ave Maris Stella," op. 28, a powerful, moving, technically brilliant composition that reflected the artist's deep knowledge of Catholic church music and traditional compositional techniques. Scholars have singled out the fugue in this work as an example of flawless contrapuntal organization.


    I'm impressed by how well-thought-out his book's exercises are, building (in typical Aristotelian pedagogical fashion*) from what is more known to what is lesser known.
    *St. Thomas Aquinas, Physica bk. 1 ch. 1: "the natural way or order of learning is that we should come to that which is unknown by us from that which is known by us".
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,877
    When I was a teenager many moons ago, Peeters would come to my city and visit a close friend who was a prominent organist in town. While he was here he gave master classes that were free and open to all. I found that he was a superb teacher and a very nice person.
  • Geremia
    Posts: 173
    Here's an Anki deck of Little Organ Book's exercises, so you can keep track of your progress and review more difficult exercises more frequently.
    Anki is a flashcards program that uses spaced repetition; there are many other music learning decks available, too.
  • Geremia
    Posts: 173
    Apparently Little Organ Book is a condensed version of Flor Peeters's Ars Organi (vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3).