Are you ready to explore your musical talent and learn how to play the organ? Here are some steps:
The differences between a piano and organ
A piano and organ may look similar but they are two very different instruments. So before we learn about the steps to playing the organ, let’s determine the differences between the two instruments first.
A piano is a type of acoustic instrument that uses wooden hammers to strike the keys that make the sound. When the player strikes the keys of the piano, it causes the hammers inside the lid to strike the keys producing the different sounds.
An organ, on the other hand, is a type of wind instrument that uses pipes to create a sound with the help of air blowing into them. It has a keyboard and pedals that can be played separately or together.
An organ is also different from a piano in that it has buttons that allows you to change the sound depending on the pipes where the air is blown and it has a swell pedal that controls the volume and it doesn’t have a sustain pedal unlike a piano.
Some organs also have separate boards containing separate keys for the left and right hands.
The parts of the organ
To make it easier for us to talk about learning to play the organ, it’s very important to learn about its basic parts first:
- The keyboard. Also known as the manual, this is a set of keys similar to a piano but with different boards. A standard church organ could have 2 to 3 manual keyboards with 61 sets of keys each. These boards can be played with the right and left hand.
- The pedal. The pedal of an organ looks pretty much like the keyboard only that it is played using the feet. You’ll also see one key that’s meant to be operated by the right foot to control the volume.
- The pipes. Connected to each key is a pipe that produces the sound through a wind mechanism that’s either supplied electrically or mechanically through bellows.
The basics of reading music
To be able to play the organ, you need to learn the basic steps of reading music first. Let’s start with the most basic symbols that you’ll see in a music sheet: the staff, the clefs and of course, the notes.
- The staff is basically the five lines and four spaces on which the notes are written. Each of those lines and their corresponding spaces represent a different note or letter.
- The treble or G clef registers the higher notes of music for instruments with higher pitches like a flute, saxophone, violin or organ.
- To remember the notes for the lines and spaces of a treble clef, you just have to follow the mnemonics “Every Good Boy Does Fine” for EGBDF on the lines and “Face” for FACE on the spaces.
- The bass or F clef, on the other hand, notates the lower notes of music for instruments like the cello, tuba or bassoon.
- To remember the note for the lines and spaces in the bass clef, you have to follow the mnemonics “Good Boys Do Fine Always” for GBDFA on the lines and “All Cows Eat Grass” for ACEG on the spaces.
- Of course, there are the notes that tell you which key on the organ to play and how long to play it. The head or the round part of the note will be placed on the line or space that will determine which note to play.
- The stem is the thin line that extends up or down from the head, but it doesn’t affect how a note should be read. Finally, the flag is located to the right of the stem to indicate how long you should hold a note on the organ.
It’s also very important to learn about time signatures that essentially tell you the beat of the music that you’re playing. This is like counting the steps to a dance.
For instance, a 4/4 time signature means that you need to count 4 beats per bar and every quarter note gets one beat. So, it’s basically like counting 1,2,3,4 and 1,2,3,4.
The steps to playing the organ
To get started with playing the organ, here are some steps:
- You need to sit straight on a bench or stool placed in the middle of the instrument. It’s also very important to maintain your posture throughout the whole performance so you can easily access keys without straining your wrist and fingers.
- Your feet should be positioned properly on the pedal board at all times and not on the ground so you don’t have to constantly look down while playing the organ.
- Relax your arms and position your hands in a curved C shape on top of the keyboard to make it easier to run your fingers through the keys. Your fingertips should be aligned with the white keys and your elbow should be at the same height and not slouching on the keyboard. Avoid touching your wrists on the keys themselves because that could cause strain in the long run.
- Familiarize yourself with the pedal board by practicing some simple fragments so you can develop the habit of just running your foot through the keys without looking down that could distract you during a performance. You can do this by sliding your foot on the next key as you press the existing key to prepare it for playing. You can also follow the same technique in preparing your fingers.
- Try to play on the edge of the keys for more precise touches, especially if you’re a beginner.
- Once you’re familiar with the right keys to hit with the notes on the sheet music, you can start practicing an easy piece so you can develop your finger work better.
- Since it’s very important to develop good finger and pedal technique, especially if you want to play like the pros, you should try to play finger and pedal exercises like Hanon’s Virtuoso Pianist to improve your technique.
- As you go along, you can watch tutorials or get an organ teacher to guide you through the technicalities of playing the organ.
Mastering even the simplest piece will not happen overnight. In fact, it might take you weeks or months before you can really play a piece without any errors, so take it easy on yourself.
Stick to one piece and work your way to harder pieces as you improve your skills on the organ and in reading sheet music.
Again, remember that it will take a lot of practice, patience and commitment to be a master at playing the organ. Finally, you can also join organizations or forums where you can talk with other organ enthusiasts and get tips and tricks from them.
Is it hard to learn to play the organ?
Can you play an organ like a piano?
How can I be a good organ player?
- Manage Your Practice Time.
- Practice Sight Reading.
- Slow Down.
- Keep Challenging Yourself.
- Make Sure Your Goals are Realistic.
- Play Classical Pieces.
- Practice Playing in Public.
How do pianists play organs?
How easy is it to play the organ?
How do I start learning organs?
How long does it take to learn the organ?
What are the organs?
What are the notes on an organ?
What is the hardest instrument to play?
- The French Horn. Learning to play the french horn is renowned for being extremely difficult but very rewarding to learn to play.
- Violin. The violin is hard to play, I know this from first hand experience.
What are the 12 organs of the body?
- The brain. The brain is the control centre of the nervous system and is located within the skull.
- The lungs.
- The liver.
- The bladder.
- The kidneys.
- The heart.
- The stomach.
- The intestines.
Who invented organ?
What is the oldest organ in the world?
Is blood an organ?
What is the largest organ in the world?
The Largest Organs in the World.
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