My organist is quitting after Christmas…help.
  • For whatever reason my organist thought that immediately following Christmas would be a good time to quit. I just found out today.

    I’m a musician with two performance degrees in music, so I have a handle on practice methods but organ is not my instrument. I did take a few lessons here in there and learned a few pieces, but I’m thinking this might be a sign from above and the push I needed to get back into learning after a few years hiatus.

    Where can I start teaching myself? Scales/arpeggios? Hymns to start out with? I have the Flor Peeters Little Organ Book and Noel Jones wonderful Catholic Organist’s book of Hymns. I have no piano background except for college methods classes and really need a handle on good organ fingering, as well as good Baroque (preferably Catholic composers) pieces to play for prelude and during Mass (think Frescobaldi).

    Thank you for your help!!!
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,854
    If you have keyboard proficiency, and I am assuming you do as a degreed musician, look for manuals only music until you gain experience with pedals. There are other posts here that cover the topic. I have a couple of books called " 50 Baroque Fillers for Organ" put out by Kevin Mayhew I believe, and they are for manuals only. You can add pedal if you like. The Stanley works were written for organs without pedals and there are several of them in the books. They are probably available at the publishers like Sheet Music Plus and others, There are two volumes available and contain enough prelude, postlude, and incidental music to get you through masses for some time. Its a start.
    Thanked by 1regissør
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,338
    All (or most of) Stanley's Voluntarys are available (for free!) in lovely, clean, urtext editions by Pierre Gouin at IMSLP. They are manuals only, as Charles says, though occasionally a low Bass note might need to be shifted up the octave---English organs had a slightly lower Bass-compass (to compensate for lack of pedal) than modern organs.

    Also look for Stanley's contemporaries like Maurice Greene.

    Frescobaldi is also available on IMSLP---it's an EXCELLENT resource!
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,021
    Rossini's "Liturgical Organist" series is good for beginners who need "churchy" music. As an aside, you don't HAVE to play all the accidentals. That helps avoid "schmaltz!" Also useful are Rossini's Ecclesiastical Organist vols. I and II and his Gregorian Organist.

    148 Interludes for Organ from Kevin Mayhew is excellent and useful.

    I would guess that this (along with the excellent suggestions above) would be more than enough to get you going.
  • davido
    Posts: 158
    I started playing organ from about your level. I did spend some time practicing pedals, using the red organ method book. Manuals exercises from it as well. The pedal exercises have greatly paid off - I use them mostly for just hymn playing, but I am not afraid of them, which seems to be the issue for a lot of pianists.
    For getting the coordination between hands and feet, start with simple tunes like Silent Night, My Country ‘Tis of Thee.
  • For whatever reason my organist thought that immediately following Christmas would be a good time to quit. I just found out today.


    Three of these might be useful.

    A Catholic Organist's Guide to Playing Hymns teaches fingering and also playing the pedals.

    We accept returns for full refunds and are happy to be able to make this possible.


  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,771
    Not to read too much between the lines, but a couple of things kind of leap to one's attention: if the organist hasn't chosen to quit just before Christmas, they might not be as mad at you as you think, and replacement doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone. If there's still a budget for a salary, most local AGO chapters will run help wanted notices for free in their newsletters.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,854
    The Peeters book is excellent. I believe it was Noel who suggested some years ago an organ method titled, "The Organ" by John Stainer. It was first published in 1909 with copyright renewed 1937 by G. Schirmer. I am not saying rush out and buy it but it is available on Amazon at prices from reasonable to outrageous depending on publication date.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=the+organ+by+john+stainer

    It contains exercises for independence of the hands and feet, exercises for finding pedal keys by feeling with the toes and without looking at the feet, and many more. A good method book that starts at the level of a beginner.

    Richard is correct, I think, that if the organist had it in for you he/she would have quit before Christmas. Now that would be wicked.
  • MarkS
    Posts: 239
    George H. Ritchie and George B. Stauffer, Organ Technique: Modern and Early (Oxford University Press, 2000) is an excellent modern volume widely used around these parts (New Haven, CT/Yale) that I highly recommend to someone with a strong theory/keyboard background. It is pretty comprehensive.
  • Gamba
    Posts: 132
    Dear CUAU,

    I hope you will find/make time to meet with a mentor/teacher. Now, with two degrees in organ behind me, I am always very aware for the many moments in which I might have eventually sorted something by myself, after many hours of practicing, but my teachers came to my aid and pointed out that by doing Y instead of X, it really would be much easier. Self-teaching will not get you beyond your limits, and when you hit a wall, you’ll be stuck for a while. And, like a Bible-only Protestant, you may back yourself into some weird and harmful corners, particularly regarding technique/use of the body, from which you cannot see a way out without guidance.

    I would be delighted to help someone in your situation, if s/he was nearby, for free or for a nominal fee, and I think many other organists would feel the same way.

    With all best wishes for musical growth and success.

    Gamba
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,041
    Why don't you just ask the organist why he/she quit?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,639
    If you want to get another organist, you're welcome to post an official job announcement here on the Forum, of course.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress