The Lady Organist

an online magazine for organists

Category Organ playing

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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Focus on feet…pedals-only repertoire

I have had a a couple of brilliant emails from Michael Wong in the States discussing pedals-only repertoire, after my blog post on Joyce Jones.   Michael’s suggestions are on a new page here.  There’s another page of pedals-only in production, just as soon as I’ve sorted out all the links.           You might also like: Something more dramatic for the feet Joyce Jones – queen of

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Something more dramatic for the feet

  I’ve been following Michael Johnston of @michaelsmusic on Twitter for a while, and I had to share a recent tweet about his reprint of Dramatic Pedal Studies by Hamilton Crawford Macdougall  (1858-1945) in which the parts given to the feet are either well-defined melodies or at least have some melodic interest.  They will therefore stimulate the players’ interest in pedal playing, and through the assignment to the feet of

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Sight read the pedals

Following my recent moan about sight-reading resources, Mark Ellis of atticbooks drew my attention to Sight-Read the Pedals! by Richard Ellis.  Eighty short pieces for organ sight reading: the pedal line starts with just two notes (C and F) and gradually gets more complicated to cover the whole of the pedalboard.  Mark makes the point that many “introduction to the organ” books move rapidly from single line pedal exercises to

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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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Go away, I’m practising

There’s something about an organ being played – like a traffic accident or a crime scene – that draws a crowd. Some excellent organists simply do not play in public, and I understand where they are coming from.  If your instrument is even slightly in the public domain, it can be impossible to escape onlookers, at times when really you would rather they weren’t there. It’s wonderful to be able

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Joyce Jones – queen of the pedals

Who wouldn’t like to play the pedals like Joyce Jones?  I’ve just ordered her book, Pedal Mastery For Organ from Amazon and I can’t wait.   The page previews show exercises ranging from elementary to quite terrifying. Joyce Jones is renowned for her twinkling, virtuosic feet. Here she is on YouTube playing Flight of the Bumble Bee – on the pedals of course.  The relaxed economy of movement, and effortless pedal

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Dame Gillian Weir

Do we like pictures of organists in gorgeous frocks and pretty shoes gracing the organ steps? Of course we do – I know Dame Gillian Weir has resisted, rightly, being styled as a lady organist, but the organ world desperately needs a bit of glamour.   She has had a dazzling career as an international concert artist, was the first woman President of the Royal College of Organists, the first

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Staying put on the organ bench

Here’s my solution to staying put on the organ bench.  OK, so I need to develop the posture and muscle tone to perch and swivel with nonchalance,  but I’m still finding my feet, and need the trainer wheels at the moment.   Toes-only repertoire isn’t too bad –  Bach is fine.  But if I have to use heels I find myself slipping. This is a piece of suede I found amongst

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Playing Bach with Professor Peter Williams

Can you be in rapport with an eighteenth century German Lutheran? asked Professor Williams, at the beginning of his study day on Bach in Cambridge last Saturday. All playing is distortion of a kind he said – you are imposing yourself on something you don’t necessarily understand. So how and why do you decide how and what to play? Peter Williams is among the foremost authorities on Bach’s organ music

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