A few Christmases ago, the Vicar of St Stephen’s twisted my arm, and I found myself offering to play the organ for the Patronal Day.
My keyboard skills were rusty Grade 8 Piano and I hadn’t played anything properly since a teenager. Playing the organ pedals was obviously out of the question at this stage, but I did manage to bluff my way through the service. Of course the Vicar wasn’t going to let it go at that and I found myself on the rota.
And that was it – I was hooked on the instrument, the weight of history behind it; loved the repertoire, the combination of excitement and trepidation at being asked to perform on an unfamiliar instrument, the sheer mechanical geekiness of it all.
I thought some lessons might be a good idea, and how right I was – the patient tutors of the Royal College of Organists are tactfully converting my piano playing habits into a proper organ technique, and it all got a lot harder before it has actually started to get better.
My goal is ARCO – the professional diploma of the Royal College of Organists – via CRCO. The holder of a CRCO diploma has to be an organist “capable of playing confidently in public” though the exam involves much more than just playing. I am wrestling with harmony, counterpoint, transposition and figured bass – with compulsory improvisation for added stress.
This blog began as a record of personal progress, in the hope it might be useful to others doing a similar thing. But thanks to my generous contributors it’s got bigger than that. And if it wasn’t for this blog, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been appointed Editor of iRCO, the new Royal College of Organists’ virtual campus, and put in charge of their own blog, StopPress.
Update 2017: Being on the team developing and editing the RCO virtual campus and blog during 2016 (see above) rather mopped up my blogging time, and poor Lady Organist didn’t get much of a look in. However I roar into 2017 with a new job, and big plans here – starting with a swanky new look to the website. Hope you like it.