Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for the ‘Concert Organist’ 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.

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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.

 

 

You are a unique, differentiated, gloriously individual human being

by David Jordan
(First published in the May 2018 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter)

There is an urban rumor going around that “you can be anything you want to be.”  Well, it’s not true. But you can be a whole lot more of who you are and what you are. What you really are at the core of your being. And that’s significant.

You are truly A unique, differentiated, gloriously individual human being. You don’t have to look far to see what gifts your real gifts are. Deep down you know what they are. We spend too much of our lives thinking we should be someone else.

What we want to be is often a desperate effort to fulfill someone else’s opinion of what they think we should be. Don’t. At this point, you already have enough gifts to develop than you have ever imagined

The problem is, they are uniquely yours. You may feel that those gifts should be more like someone else’s. The world doesn’t need more clones. It needs your personal, individual, unique, okay, bizarre, contributions to make the wheel we call earth, move the way it was meant to move.

Personally, and you don’t have to look it up because I happen to be right.  I think the progress of this earth would have been centuries ahead if we humans would have worked at being the best with the gifts given us, rather than continually adhering to someone else’s desire for us.

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen used to say; “if everyone lit just one little candle what a bright world this would be.” Could that also be a metaphor for lighting the candle of talent and gifts you have been given that are unique and were created in and for you? What you think is one little candle could be a huge firework waiting to take off.


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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.

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.

Dr. Brian Mathias – appointed Tabernacle Organist

Jeannine:  I understand there are exciting times in your life!  In January2018 you were appointed a Tabernacle Organist by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Please tell us how you came to this thrilling moment in your career.

Dr. Mathias:  Growing up as a member of the LDS church, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was a staple in our home. When I began to develop a serious interest in the organ, the Tabernacle Organists were the best organists that I had regular exposure to, and I devoured any recording I could find of the famous Aeolian-Skinner organ in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Of course, through the course of my education, I discovered many other traditions, organs, and organists that broadened my perspective, and I did everything I could to prepare for an academic career. However, playing for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir always remained in the back of my mind as my “dream” job.

Last May, an open position was posted. As you might imagine for a demanding position like this, the selection process lasted several months and included standard things like an application and submitting recordings. Finalists were then invited to spend two days in Salt Lake City with the Tabernacle Choir staff. The audition included quite a variety of tasks, including various types of keyboard skills (improvisation, transposition, sight reading, etc.), writing, arranging, and interviews. This culminated in accompanying the choir in rehearsal for around 45 minutes.

It was an intense, but thrilling experience, and after having the opportunity to actually play with the choir, I came away wanting the job more than ever!

My primary responsibilities as a member of the organ staff will include accompanying the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square on their weekly TV and radio broadcast of “Music and the Spoken Word” (the longest continuously-running broadcast in the world!) and performing on the daily noon recital series in the Tabernacle. We also provide music for church-wide meetings called General Conference that happen each April and October, as well as a number of concerts throughout the year.
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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.

Fulfilling a dream – Dr. Brian Mathias

Dream it!  Believe it!  See it!  Tell it!  Plan it!  Work it!  Enjoy it!

Meet Dr. Brian Mathias, Pro-Motion Music Guest Artist, an organist who has fulfilled his dream.  In Brian’s words,  “playing for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir always remained in the back of my mind as my dream job.”  You’ll enjoy reading the path Dr. Mathias took to fulfill that lifelong dream.

Guest Artist Interview 
with Brian Mathias – excerpted from the May 2018 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter
Jeannine:  Before we get started with more detailed questions, would you please introduce yourself to our readers.  What is your background?

Dr. Mathias:  Like many organists, I started on the piano when I was around eight years old. When I was twelve (during a period when I was trying to quit!), my piano teacher introduced me to the organ so I could play in church. It didn’t take long before I was hooked. My primary focus shifted to organ and it quickly became a big part of my life. After high school, I earned degrees at Brigham Young University and the University of Kansas. Since 2014, I’ve been an adjunct faculty member at BYU, where I teach organ and carillon, as well as supporting coursework including organ literature, hymn playing, and improvisation.

Jeannine:  What drew you to music and the organ?

Dr. Mathias:  It was really the organ that drew me to music. I suppose I had some degree of interest early on, but it was learning to play the organ that inspired me to the point that I wanted to pursue a career in music. I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and my teacher would frequently take me to places around the city where he was performing. Having the opportunity to get my hands on some of the wonderful instruments around the Twin Cities was extremely motivating to me. The opportunity to meet a new instrument was thrilling then and remains so today.
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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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