The Lady Organist

an online magazine for organists

Category Technique

Pedals, pedals, pedals – resources for organists

If your New Year’s resolutions included improving your pedal technique, here’s a summary of the assorted pedal resources I’ve marshalled over the last couple of years.   Some pedal etudes To start with, here’s something to make the process a little more interesting.  Composer Paul F Page recently contacted me to tell me about the organ music available to download from his website, which includes some Pedal Etudes for organ. 

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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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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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More pedals-only repertoire

Pedal duets, music for pedals and percussion, insanely difficult variations and assorted pedal workouts – I’ve just published a follow-up to my popular first page of pedals-only repertoire. You can find it here.        

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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The art of concentration with Daniel Moult

Many of the RCO Academy classes are held in St Giles Cripplegate church, which boasts no fewer than three organs.  This class was on a rainy London evening earlier this week, topic: concentration, tutor: the excellent Daniel Moult. Daniel was helping us on the elements of music performance which actually trip us up – 80% more likely to be mental issues rather than physical.  The sports psychology guys have been

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