- Plan a specific time to practice each day and stick to it. We all function better at different times during the day. Try out a few different practice times. Do you focus better in the morning or later in the day? Does family or work dictate a practice time? Once you have discovered a time that works in your schedule and with your mindset, put that time on your daily calendar.
- Set an overall goal for each practice session and write it down in a notebook! A practice session goal might be to:
- Work on the cadences in one piece and opening phrases in another
- Practice separate parts in one piece and put all parts together in a second
- Work on a difficult three measure phrase with the metronome and play a full page of another piece with the metronome
- Practice hymns with the pedal and left hand only and reward yourself by playing a favorite hymn with all parts.
- Place sticky notes on your music to track progress. List the date a piece was begun, dates practiced, completion goal, tempo goals with metronome markings defined and met, final tempo goals, other challenges to address. A visible reminder on your music helps you track your goals, challenges and successes.
- Write down questions/challenges/successes during your week of practice in your practice notebook to share with not only your teacher, but also with a colleague or friend.
- Work diligently with the metronome. This is possibly the most difficult task for an organist, but it shortens the learning time by helping maintain a steady tempo from the first practice sessions.
- Focus and never allow mistakes. Thinking you will easily play through a difficult passage the “next time” is one of the biggest mistakes. Mistakes made repeatedly while waiting for that “next time” take hours of practice to correct.
- Play the best you can each time you play. Do not settle for mediocre playing.
- Play a “fun” or reward piece at the end of the practice session. After working toward your practice session goal, challenging yourself to play cleanly and well, play something you love and know well to end your practice and work session. You deserve it.
- Enjoy yourself! After all, we play the most magnificent instrument ever built!
Archive for January, 2011
The Classical Organ, It’s Not Just For Funerals Anymore.
If you are a lover of classical organ music, a church organist, an organ teacher, or a concert organist, you know you are part of a small group of people—in fact a very small subset of the small group of classical musicians—who know and understand this amazing instrument. If you are like me, you want to share this incredible instrument with the world. But, how do we start? How do we introduce the world of the organ to someone who may never have heard a classical organ except in the context of the Phantom of the Opera or a funeral?
- Invite a friend to attend an organ concert with you. Give your friend an idea of what they might not only hear but also see at the concert. Describe the myriad of sounds, the visual of a pipe façade, the intricate cockpit-like console, and the work an organist does with not only her hands but also her feet as well to create the music. Share your enthusiasm!
- Listen to organ CDs and share your favorites with a family member or friend. If you are the organ music lover in your home, do not go into hiding with your iPod. Instead, choose an organ piece your sibling or friend may have heard in another context (such as Phantom of the Opera) and share that piece with them. Yes, some organ pieces are very popular and can build a bridge to introducing some of your favorite but more esoteric pieces. Share your enthusiasm!
- Share links of your favorite YouTube organist videos with a young person. YouTube is a great place to introduce the organ. Videos reach both the auditory and visual learner and explorer. For someone new to the organ, just seeing this incredible instrument and hearing the awesome sounds it can create will make them want to experience more of the world of the organ. Share your enthusiasm!
- Provide organ lessons for a student. Have you seen children or adults hanging around the choir loft after church just to get a glimpse of the organist? Offer several months of organ lessons to give that person a chance to experience the organ. I was one of those kids who watched the church organist play her postlude week after week. Due to the astute observation of my piano teacher who saw my interest in the “King of Instruments” and encouraged my parents to include organ lessons in my music study, I am now a concert organist.
It is June and we have just heard that the post of Cantor at St. Thomas’ in Leipzig is open. My Johann Sebastian will immediately apply for this prestigious post. An added joy to this month is that our first baby was born and we have named her Christiana Sophia Henrietta. Her brothers, Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Phillip Emmanuel and Gottfried Bernhard and big sister, Catharina Dorothea, are delighted with the baby. Ah, but back to the Leipzig story.
Finally my husband has been asked to come to Leipzig to interview for the post of Cantor at St. Thomas. We have heard that the council is “sorry,” as they say, “that they can’t have the best, and that they will make do with what there is.” Ah, but my Johann Sebastian will show them what a composer and performer he is! Well, that is exactly what JS did! We were told that the entire council, all 32 members, unanimously elected my husband as the new Cantor of St. Thomas in Leipzig.
A very famous magazine, the National Scholars’ Magazine of the Neutral Correspondent of Holstein, has written about our move to Leipzig. It is so good, I must quote exactly what they said about the Bach family’s move: “Last Saturday around noon, four coaches with household equipment arrived from Cothen. They belonged to the former royal court Kapellmeister who was called to Leipzig and appointed Cantor at St. Thomas’s. At two o’clock he and his family arrived in two coaches and moved into the newly renovated apartment at St. Thomas’s school.”
So, we are in Leipzig now. All seven of us: Catharina Dorothea who is now 15, the three boys and the baby Christiana Sophia. Our apartment is large and beautiful and takes up three floors of a huge old building over a century old.
Johann Sebastian is trying to understand his new position. He has to report to so many different people. It really is very tricky because the Kantor, my Johann Sebastian, is basically the music director for all the churches in Leipzig. In his new position as Kantor he has to answer to: the rector of the St. Thomas School; the city council made up of three burgomeisters (mayors of the town); two deputy burgomeisters; and ten assessors. My heavens! How is he going to manage to keep everyone happy? Besides that he has to compose a lot of cantatas, teach at the school, and of course play for all the services, weddings and funerals. We will be a busy family helping him with all this work!
Review of a Great Year
Pro-Motion Music had an incredible year of sharing the world of the organ with our friends around the world.
We are delighted with the new Bach and Sons organ and media event and the new products we’ve been able to release to you, and we are excited about the many projects we have in store for 2011.
Successes From the Last Year
We kicked off the year with performances of our organ and media event,
From Sea to Shining Sea in Atlanta, Georgia and Elmira, New York. Once again, new friends were made for the organ with this dramatic music and visual event celebrating the history of the organ in the colonies and the US.
Next, we rolled out On The Heels Of An Organist, a book that gives a glimpse into the world of organists as teachers, church musicians and concert artists. This book taps into stories of one organist but has generated thoughts and memories from organists worldwide.
As summer arrived, we made our annual pilgrimage to Redmond, Oregon where David once again delighted audience, performers and adjudicators with his creative accompaniments for over 100 different show classes at the FarWest Morgan Horse Show.
In early July, we journeyed to Chattanooga, Tennessee to help that city kick-off their 4th of July weekend celebrations with a performance of From Sea to Shining Sea for 2,500 enthusiastic music-lovers at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium.
At that concert, we premiered our CD, O Beautiful for Spacious Skies—a compilation of patriotic arrangements for organ with David’s creative digital additions. This CD was a perfect remembrance for those historians and service men and women attending the Chattanooga 4th of July celebration.
In September we shared “From Sea to Shining Sea”, with the Seattle Chapter of the American Guild of Organists bringing early American Organ music alive for this august group of musicians. We had the pleasure of performing the music on a fine tracker instrument and showing the video element of the program on two 8′ x 8′ in-house video screens.
Fall marked the culmination of 18 months of research and development of Bach and Sons, our new organ and media event celebrating the life and times of this amazing composer and his family. Utilizing the knowledge and input of a broad-based focus group, the concert event became a must-experience event for the music-lover, historian and organist alike.
In October we made a pilgrimage to Germany to
November heralded the world premier of our new organ and media event, Bach and Sons, in Anchorage, Alaska. The event was a huge success with rave reviews!
Our newest CD, “The Organ Music of Bach and Sons,” which was recorded on historic organs in Bach’s Germany, was released at that memorable event giving those in attendance the opportunity to “take home” the music that was presented at the world premier event. Musicians, artists, historians, and just plain music lovers were enthralled by what they experienced this fine event.
In December, the energetic students of the Jordan Keyboard Studio presented their concert celebrating the culmination of another year of successful study. You can read their story below.
We updated parts of our Pro-Motion Music website with a smoother look and feel. We also interviewed a dozen intriguing people from
- performers to
- teachers to
- organ builders to
- composers to
- church musicians and
presenting their interviews and articles in the monthly newsletters.
All of these projects made for a busy and rewarding 2010 and we are looking forward to an even more invigorating 2011.
We thank all of you for your support!
Keep up-to-date on the latest Pro-Motion Music developments by:
Visiting the Pro-Motion Music website at www.promotionmusic.org
Reading the Pro-Motion Music Blog
Following Jeannine and “liking” Pro-Motion Music on Facebook
Watching videos on the Pro-Motion Music YouTube Channel
Reading our monthly Pro-Motion Music Newsletter…
…And don’t forget to send me an email HERE just to stay in touch
On behalf of Pro-Motion Music,
David and I wish you a splendid New Year!
—Jeannine, concert organist