Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for the ‘Church music’ Category

The Seven P’s

Proper Prior Practice Prevents Piddly Poor Performance

Once again, David and I have been traveling and performing and once again, I’ve met creative colleagues — teachers, performers, church musicians all.  Of course, we talk about our work in all its guises and share ideas, thoughts, repertoire, and pithy comments.

From my conversations with Gregory Largent in Saginaw, Michigan comes the inspiration for this article — the 7 P words.   These seven little words just happen to be very apropos this month with the Jordan Organ Studio Spring Recital just a few weeks away.

Let’s take this pithy little phrase apart and see just what we performers are up against!

Proper = of the required type; suitable or appropriate.

Prior = existing or coming before in time, order, or importance.

Practice = to perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.

Prevents = keep (something) from happening or arising.

Piddly = pathetically trivial; trifling.

Poor = worse than is usual, expected, or desirable; of a low or inferior standard or quality.

Performance = a person’s rendering of a dramatic role, song, or piece of music.

LEAD TO

Pretty, Pleasant, Pleasing, Profound, Polished, Passionate Performances!

HAPPY PRACTICING!

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Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist with her husband David, media artist, are the creators and performers of Bach and Sons, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Around the World in 80 Minutes — live organ concerts with multi-media.

Practice as Devotion

Ideas for incorporating devotions into your organ practice

Enter into the practice session with a short prayer or moment of silence to center yourself.

Be mindful to review in advance what you would like to focus on or accomplish with the practice session. Warm up with the technical exercises first. Demonstrate self-denial (sacrifice) by first practicing those least pieces (or sections of a piece) that you like to avoid, save for last, or sometimes skip altogether.

In the middle of your practice, take a break from actually playing and read a Psalm, the lyrics to a favorite hymn, or a devotional reading from one of the resources mentioned earlier.

Meditate a few minutes focusing on what you have read. Resume your practice with a gracious attitude while reflecting on how incredibly awesome the organ is at expressing musically the text, theme, mood, and/or sentiments of a hymn or repertoire.

Always end a practice session on a positive note and with gratitude.

One option is to close your organ practice with a “postlude” – something you can play musically with confidence — a piece that brings you joy. This may even be a simple composition with a beautiful soundscape that is not technically complex.

The possibilities are endless for connecting contemplative spirituality or devotional meditation with organ practice are endless – allow yourself to be creative.
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Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist with her husband David, media artist, are the creators and performers of Bach and Sons, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Around the World in 80 Minutes — live organ concerts with multi-media.

Enriching Your Organ Practice

Effective organ practice can be difficult to maintain on a consistent basis. Why? Are we approaching our practice too casually? Is our organ practice starting to get monotonous with technical exercises and boring repetition? Are we spending too much time playing what we like to focus on or enjoy but neglecting those important technical exercises or compositions that will help get us to the next level? I am certainly guilty of all of the above.

Finding time is another factor that can impede a disciplined habit of practicing the organ. Life — with hours spent working, family obligations, social engagements, and church can leave little time left to practice the organ.

Idea! Adding an element of the sacred to your organ practice may spiritually enrich your practice experience. A colleague recommended incorporating spiritual devotion into my organ practice rather than adopting additional spiritual practices or setting aside more discretionary time for devotional study. How wonderfully practical! Practicing the organ also then becomes a devotional act and a spiritual practice.

Hymnody provides a rich treasury of devotional lyrics. Many hymn texts are based on scripture so also incorporate a biblical element when used as a source of devotion.  There are also a number of books and resources published to support using hymns as a source of devotional practice. These include Open Your Hymnal- Devotions that Harmonize Scripture with Song by Denise K. Loock, The One Year Book of Hymns by Robert Brown, and Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions by Kenneth Osbeck. These resources provide devotional readings based upon classic hymns of the Christian faith. 

Jeannine OcalaAdopting contemplative or meditative aspects to your organ practice may contribute to experiencing the music more deeply. By doing so, you enhance your ability to play musically rather than intellectually. Another benefit is the positive psychological associations that may occur when organ and devotional practice are blended.  An organist may gain more confidence, resolve and commitment to improving organ skills. Organ practice becomes much more than tackling the assignment from the prior lesson and assuring oneself of being prepared or appearing prepared for the next lesson (or church service or recital).

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Dr. Jeannine Jordan, a teacher with an active organ studio has also been a church musician most of her life.  She is also a concert organist and with her husband David, media artist,  is the creator and performer of Bach and Sons, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Around the World in 80 Minutes — live organ concerts with multi-media.

 

 

Dr. Brian Mathias and the BYU Organ Program

(Excerpted from the May 2018 Guest Artist Interview of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter)

Jeannine:  You have taught in the School of Music at Brigham Young University since 2014 and have served on the faculty of the annual BYU Organ Workshop. Would you please describe for our readers the organ program at the University and how these University courses and specifically the Summer Organ Workshops are meeting the needs of church musicians.

Dr. Matthias:  BYU is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As you are probably aware, our church has an entirely lay ministry, so the organists of our congregations throughout the world are all volunteers. For this reason, the BYU organ department has a unique focus. In addition to the lessons and curriculum we offer for organ majors, we have a variety of offerings for those who want to learn basic hymn playing skills in preparation for volunteer service in the church.

For university students, we offer two semesters of beginning organ instruction in a small group format. These classes are held in our organ lab that houses twelve electronic organs. In any given semester, we have around 100 students enrolled in these courses.  Of course, we also offer more traditional private lessons for organ majors and non-majors, which typically amounts to another 30-35 student each semester. That’s a lot of organ teaching each week!

As exciting as everything happening on campus is, our focus is much broader than just the university community. We have a variety of offerings intended for early-level organists everywhere. These include online independent study courses, the annual week-long BYU Organ Workshop, 10-12 weekend “outreach” workshops offered in various locations around the United States each year, and a variety of online resources that can be accessed free of charge. Credit for these many projects goes largely to my colleague Don Cook (current AGO Councilor for Education), who has been working to get organ training into the hands of organists everywhere for many years. Those curious about our program can find more information at organ.byu.edu.

When it comes to organ, BYU is an exciting place to be, and I will certainly miss being a part of all the wonderful things going on there.

Jeannine:  Congratulations Brian on your new position and thank you for sharing your story with us.

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Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist with her husband David, media artist, are the creators and performers of Bach and Sons, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Around the World in 80 Minutes — live organ concerts with multi-media.

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