Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for the ‘hymn texts’ Category

Hymn-based organ repertoire

Excerpted from the Jordan Organ Studio October 2018 Newsletter.

Most all of us are currently playing some sort of hymn-based repertoire either for use in a church service, for the upcoming recital, or simply for pleasure.

Question: Do you know when the hymntune your piece is based on was originally composed? Do you know the text of the hymn? Have you discovered something interesting about the composer of your piece? Hmmm…a little research makes music come alive. I simply love learning something new about repertoire — and each of you certainly helps me do that on a weekly basis!

My new lesson week began yesterday afternoon with three inspirational lessons following our worship service. All three were filled with hymn based repertoire. My eight-year-old’s lesson (following a service where she played three hymn variations for the prelude) included new hymn based repertoire in addition to her favorite trumpet tunes; my newest student – a talented 13-year-old with the goal to become a church organist, added two more hymns to her “completed hymn list” and prepared a Bach Prelude for an upcoming church service; and Walter and I played hymns from the 1920 Protestant Episcopal hymnal and Bach’s Orgelbuchlein for two lovely hours. Just like the lessons earlier in the week, hymnody played a huge role in each of their lessons.

I simply love the fact that in any given week, with you my wonderful students, I have the opportunity to explore hymns from a myriad of denominations, to learn new hymns (I think Walter got the award for adding the most hymns to my hymn knowledge base this week — who knew the Episcopalians of 1920 had so many different hymns), to see favorite tunes with different texts, to hear creative settings of these amazing pieces, and to simply hear some of my favorite pieces of music.

It’s a really great life being your teacher! I am so blessed!
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Interested in organ lessons for yourself, your child, or your grandchild?  Dr. Jeannine Jordan loves to teach and has studios in Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Forest Grove, Oregon.  You may reach her at jeannine@promotionmusic.org.  Fulfill a dream…start organ lessons today.

The Tie That Binds

Question: What is the tie that binds all of us (the cohort of the Jordan Organ Studio) together?

Answer: As I do weekly, Friday morning I was reviewing my notes and thoughts from the lessons I had taught in the past week, when it occurred to me that most all of the lessons have a common thread running through them. That thread is hymnody.

Some of us, by the nature of our church positions, practice and work on hymns to be sung weekly by our congregations. Those Sundays just keep coming around with hymns galore! For all of us who are church musicians, hymns are and should be a part of every practice session and lesson. We need to remember that the hymns are THE MOST IMPORTANT pieces of music we will play for our congregations!

Question: How is your hymn playing? Does your congregation sing well? Are you an excellent leader? Is your playing precise and of good tempo? Are you creative with your introductions? Do you use alternative harmonizations to suit the text or ethnicity of the hymntune? Hmmm….so many questions to ponder.
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Interested in organ lessons for yourself, your child, or your grandchild?  Dr. Jeannine Jordan loves to teach and has studios in Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Forest Grove, Oregon.  You may reach her at jeannine@promotionmusic.org.  Fulfill a dream…start organ lessons today.

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.

 

 

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