The Lady Organist

an online magazine for organists

Joyce Jones – queen of the pedals

Joyce Jones

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 trills are just wonderful to watch.

Dr Jones is winding down her performance schedule as of last year, when she retired from her position as Professor of Music and Organist in residence at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.   “It’s my 79th birthday and I don’t mind saying at my age, it’s amazing that anyone that old can still be playing,” she announced.

She describes herself as an accidental organist – when she was a piano undergraduate in Texas she sprained her hand – badly.   Six weeks of no playing were ordered for recovery.  She occupied herself with pedal exercises on the organ, and found a natural talent and affinity for the instrument.  The rest is history.

Here’s a longer (1 hour) clip on YouTube from the Pedals and Pumps festival of organ divas at Trinity Wall Street, New York,  in 2008.  Joyce plays Dupre, Liszt, Bach, with plenty of showing off on the pedals.   The dancing over the manuals between different registrations that she uses in the Bach comes from her studies with Karl Richter – before that her playing had become uber correct “as if the music was sprayed with Lysol”, and it needed liberating, she says.  Bach purists beware.

    14 Comments on
    “Joyce Jones – queen of the pedals”
    • I have tried everywhere to find a copy of the flight of the bumble bee music with pedal obligato as she and Carol williams clearly play from a copy – be interested if you have any luck. I have managed to transcript a version based on the piano version ant the two youtube videos but would be nice to have a definitive copy – If you want I can email the copy (pdf) to you.

      • Robin,
        I’m also very interested in your transcription.
        I’ve to play a little concert within a few months and the theme is ‘Journey / Voyage’ .
        This piece would be appropriate in the programma.
        Thanks in advance.

    • I will look out for it! In the meantime, yes, please, email your own transcript. I’m working on a page of pedals-only repertoire right now. Tell me if you’re happy for me to include it on the page – with appropriate credit of course.

    • I have tried for a long while now to find a copy of the Flight Of Bumblebee for organ pedal solo to no avail and I keep coming back to Joyce Jones for further inspiration. If anybody knows where I can find a copy Please Please let me know.


    • I am a beginner pipe organist at 73 years old. I am taking organ lessons from the head of the organ Dept at Dalhousie University here in Halifax,NS. I have quite a musical background on piano, trumpet, euphonium and clarinet, but I am really in need of a copy or email of Organ Pedal Scales with the footwork indicated.
      Would you please have a copy of this PDF or can you advise me where I can get one ?
      Kindest regards

      George E. Robertson

      • I’ve had a look around the internet George, and it seems that every teacher and author has a different opinion on how to play pedal scales – along with varied advice on whether your knees should be together – or not, and how to account of your height/length of leg etc. So as far as I can see there is no standard edition – unlike piano scales and arpeggios where the rules are fairly clear. I’d never thought about this before. Anyone know of a pdf or similar?

    • Do you have a copy of the Organists Pedal Exercises, particularly a comprehensive layout of the Scale Footwork Methodology ???

      • No I don’t George, but it sounds interesting. Do you have it yourself, or is it something you are looking out for? If you have it, could you tell us more?

    • Really in my organ studies, I require the actual position of each foot when practicing scales. For example on the C scale, where does one place the right and left toe or heel for an ascending and descending octave . Maybe I’m not explaining this very well but I hope you understand.
      Mant thanks
      George Robertson

    • If you are looking for exercises for pedal scales only, Marcel Dupre wrote his “Gammes du Pedale” and it will cost you 9.95 quids if you get it off

    • Dear all – I believe the arrangment both Joyce Jones and Carol Williams use is by Richard Ellsasser…..long since out-of-print. At one point I believe that Dr. Jones was thinking of publishing her own edition but I might have misunderstood. Alas….

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