The Lady Organist

an online magazine for organists

Category Organ teachers

The 5 best things my organ teachers told me last year

All blogs succumb to the five best, ten worst, etc format sooner or later, and THE LADY ORGANIST has decided to be no exception.  So here’s my contribution to New Year 2015 – the five best things I learned from my teachers in 2014. Gerdi Troskie suggested I work through A Guide to Duo and Trio Playing by Jacques van Oortmerssen (one of her teachers, by the way).  These little

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Congratulations to Anne Marsden Thomas, MBE

Anne Marsden Thomas has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List.  For services to organ music hooray. Congratulations Anne. Here’s an earlier interview she did for this blog, on the run up to an RCO Academy Summer Course.   Five questions for…Anne Marsden Thomas

Organ lessons over the internet – yes it works

Organ lessons can sometimes be like doctor’s appointments – you have your allotted time, and leave with half a dozen questions still hanging in your head.  When Neil Cockburn, Head of Organ Studies at Mount Royal University Conservatory in Calgary, Canada, offered an experiment with distance learning to students at the RCO Summer Course in August, I thought it was fun in principle, and wanted to try it.  What I

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Create an organist (or just have a good day out) – The Great North Organ Day

Do you know anyone – of any age – who you think might secretly hanker after playing the pipe organ?   Who lives in the north of England?  The Great North Organ Day hits Newcastle on Saturday 17th May.   Based around Newcastle’s two Cathedrals of St Mary and St Nicholas, it has something for everyone – recitals, masterclasses, hands-on tuition, advice on pipe and digital organs, and a pianist conversion workshop

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RCO Easter Course 2014 – a lesson with Margaret Phillips

Slightly daunting to have a lesson on Bach with Margaret Phillips after her exemplary Bach recital the night before – and on the same organ too. But she was generous in sharing the registrations she used, and many other small elements that go to make up her outstanding performances. Great to Pedal is an English invention, she admonished one of us – this organ is perfectly balanced throughout and doesn’t

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Five Questions for…..James Parsons

James Parsons is teaching us in Oxford this week, and even persuaded us today that transposition and harmonisation at sight were great fun – well almost.   He’s an enormously busy recitalist and teacher – organ tutor at the Birmingham Conservatoire and the RCO Academy Organ School, and Head of Student Development for the Royal College of Organists.  As soon as our course is over he’s running Set Your Sights! –

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Five questions for…Henry Fairs

Henry Fairs is Head of Organ Studies at Birmingham Conservatoire and Organist to the University of Birmingham, UK, and his musical career began as a chorister at Leominster Priory.  After graduating he studied in France and Germany, and was a prize-winner in a number of organ competitions including First Prize in the Odense International Organ Competition in Denmark.  Now he is an immensely busy concert organist, when not teaching.  This

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Five questions for…Anne Marsden Thomas

Anne Marsden Thomas is the Head of the RCO Academy Organ School, co-ordinating the activities of a team of teachers and the studies of around 300 organ students.   In 1990 she was responsible for the National Learn the Organ Year, which attracted over 2,000 applicants – a huge number of organists looking for good teaching.  Anne established the St Giles International Organ School, based at St Giles Cripplegate Church in

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Five questions for…Neil Cockburn

Neil Cockburn is Head of Organ Studies at Mount Royal University Conservatory, Artistic Director of the Calgary Organ Festival, and Director of MRU Conservatory’s Purcell Ensemble. He is also the continuo-player and organist for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. I’m looking forward to meeting him this summer when he is one of our tutors on the RCO Summer Course in London – when I will have to ask him how to

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Five questions for…Roger Carter

Roger Carter studied with Sylvia Gostelow and Christopher Scarf and later with Richard Popplewell, gaining Fellowships from the Royal College of Organists and Trinity College of Music.  His subsequent studies have taken him around Europe – in 1984 he was awarded a Belgian Government Scholarship to study with the late Flor Peeters, and in 1988 was invited by Harald Vogel to take part in a recital on the organ of

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Five questions for…Simon Williams

Simon is Organist and Director of Music at St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, in the centre of London.   Simon and the choir there broadcast regularly on BBC Radio3 and Radio4.  He trained at Durham University and The Royal College of Music, and has given many recitals in churches and cathedrals across the UK and in France, Germany and Italy.  He’s also Music Director of Harrow Choral Society.   He teaches

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Five questions for…Gerdi Troskie

Gerdi Troskie is one of the RCO’s tutors, and the person most responsible for the improvements in my organ technique over the past two years.  She studied post-graduate with the early music specialist Jacques van Oortmerssen at the Amsterdam Conservatorium,  and taught at the Royal College of Music Junior Department – now she’s a popular teacher on many organ courses, including the annual RCO St Giles Summer Course for Organists

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The Bulletproof Musician

I have Ruth Brons (@things4strings on Twitter) to thank for a link to The Bulletproof Musician, a blog solely about sports psychology for musicians, from Dr Noa Kageyama.  He suggests ways to develop courage and confidence, discusses mental practice, slow practice,  stage fright,  raw technique versus functional technique, the importance of run throughs….take a look.   If you sign up to his newsletter, you get a free Practice Hacks download.    

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Playing Elgar – with Dr Christopher Kent

Elgar’s image-consciousness could put many modern celebs to shame.   As photography got into its stride at the turn of the 19th century, he posed for the camera as the dapper country gent (above) or the distinguished composer about to dash off another masterpiece.   Ironically, it’s in his portrait paintings, rather than photographs, where you can see a more human, less self-assured personality. I’m taking baby steps towards learning how to

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