Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘organ instruction’

How Will You Find Your Day?

“If you haven’t found something strange during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.” J.A. Wheeler, Physicist

Modifying the idea author James Hugh Drury had to expand Wheeler’s thought, I’ve now taken the liberty to delve into this quote from a musical perspective.  It has yielded some interesting thoughts.

“If you haven’t found something surprising in a piece of music you are practicing, performing, listening to, or teaching during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.”

“If you haven’t found something wondrous in a piece of music you are practicing, performing, listening to, or teaching during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.”

“If you haven’t found something heartbreaking in a piece of music you are practicing, performing, listening to, or teaching during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.”

“If you haven’t found something to celebrate in a piece of music you are practicing, performing, listening to, or teaching during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.”

“If you haven’t found something worth grieving over in a piece of music you are practicing, performing, listening to, or teaching during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.”

“If you haven’t found something blessed in a piece of music you are practicing, performing, listening to, or teaching during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.”

“If you haven’t found something amazing in a piece of music you are practicing, performing, listening to, or teaching during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.”

The implication here is that we must pay attention to the everything in each piece of music being practiced, performed, listened to, or taught.  We must actively engage in the work of making music as a participant, not as a spectator. We must bring all our senses into play in each encounter and every circumstance.

How will you find your day, this day filled with music?

What will surprise you?

What will make your heart beat faster with wonder?

Make it more than the chronology of 24 hours of music-making.

Let it be and become a day filled with significance, a day filled joy, wonder, and discovery.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist


Act Like You Are Being Watched!

You act like you’re being watched. You make sure your integrity is passed along to future generations through your example.

As musicians we are always being watched or listened to in one way or another. Barbara Killinger in her book, Integrity, presents advice for musicians quoting a song by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine from their insightful musical, Into the Woods:

“Careful of the things you say,
Children (students, congregations, audiences, colleagues) will listen.

Careful of the things you do,
Children (students, congregations, audiences, colleagues) will see
And learn.

Children (students, congregations, choirs, audiences, colleagues) will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.

Careful before you say,
‘Listen to me.’
Children (students, congregations, audiences, colleagues) will listen.”

Dr. Jeannine Jordan,  teacher, church musician, and concert organist

As A Musician, Do You Care About the Greater Good?

You care about the greater good. You make decisions that will benefit the entire organization.

As a musician, it is sometimes tempting to think first about ourselves, to look inward, and “hole-up” in our practice rooms, music studios, offices, or church sanctuaries.  After all, everything we do and everything we are about requires hours and hours and hours of planning, preparation, and practice before we ever have to or get to interact with another human being.  However, as musicians of integrity, we must have an awareness and a concern for the greater good for those groups of people and organizations with which we are associated.

Caring about the greater good of my hard-working and dedicated group of students means providing community building opportunities such as Play-Ins, recitals, and music-sharing days.

Caring about the greater good of my church’s congregation means working closely with the pastor to plan the music for worship; practicing and preparing the music I will play;  preparing the choir in the music they will sing to lead worship;  and eventually sharing the music that will enhance worshipDr. Jeannine Jordan, organist with David Jordan, media artist

Caring about the great good of my audiences means presenting concerts that will advance the value of music making in society.  It means not only being well prepared to play in an exciting and careful manner, but also being creative and original in my performance presentation.

Caring about the greater good of my musical colleagues means supporting the professionalism of my musical colleagues by listening first and then encouraging a thoughtful interchange of ideas to advance the music profession.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, organist


Keeping Your Word

The dictionary definition of integrity uses three words: wholeness, unity, and honesty. “When talking about integrity, we are talking about being a whole person, an integrated person, with all our different parts working well and delivering the functions that they were designed to deliver.” (Cloud, p. 31) To continue our discussion of the ten “integrity characteristics” as defined in The Integrity Advantage, we look at the necessity of keeping your word as a music teacher to gain trust within a community or group of individuals such as a student cohort.

You keep your word. You act with integrity to gain trust.

If I tell my students we are going to have an opportunity to play the outstanding pipe organs at Mt. Angel Abbey, it is not a whimsical idea. I know once such an opportunity is presented to my students, I will have to follow through. By working through the myriad of details necessary to make that performance and learning opportunity a reality, I continue to build trust with my enthusiastic group of students.

“In the end trust is about the heart, and someone making an investment in you from his or her heart. If you gain people’s trust, their heart, then you also have their desire and passion. Good teachers capture the other people’s will, their true desire, through connecting with them first. “ (Cloud, p.53)

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, instructor of organ and concert organist.

What are the Traits of a Forward-thinking Musician?

Recently I had the opportunity to interview James Thomashower, Executive Director of the American Guild of Organists for our Pro-Motion Music newsletter.  Mr. Thomashower and I shared ideas and views on the difference between being a forward-looking and a forward-thinking musician (organist). 

Most musicians and organists in particular are primarily forward-looking people with prepared music required either Sunday after Sunday and season after season or concert after concert. With Mr. Thomashower’s role as a visionary for the AGO, I asked him to share some of his and the organization’s forward-thinking ideas that could help organists (and musicians)  grow beyond being only a forward-looking group?

Mr. Thomashower:  I think the best strategy organists can follow to ensure career stability and growth is for them to be

  • less rigid,
  • more flexible,
  • and constantly willing to learn.

I am not suggesting at all that they should ever lower their standards, but the world is changing every day, and organists need to look ahead at the directions in which their employers are headed musically and liturgically.

Organists must be

  • constantly attuned to what’s happening in their places of employment,
  • be prepared for change,
  • and learn to adapt to new kinds of services with different types of music than they are accustomed to playing.

The organists who will flourish are those who can most effectively adapt to the changing demands that they may face. That may mean

  • learning new music
  •  accepting a new role, perhaps as a back-up musician in a blended service
  • graciously accepting an opportunity to play a digital instrument if a job with a pipe organ is not readily available.

Organists know more about their instrument than anyone else.  Regardless of the particular circumstances they may face in a given church, they have a responsibility to be the best advocates for the organ and organ music in our society.  That role is thrust upon them by virtue of their extraordinary musical skills, competence, and professionalism. They should embrace it with pride and joy.

Interview by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist

To Quote Dame Julie Andrews

I recently read Julie Andrews’ autobiography, Home– A Memoir of My Early Years and  came across this intriguing practice tip!

“My coach, Madame Stiles-Allen had taught me how to work on a problematic note in a song by strengthening the note before it.  I was amazed and humbled to discover that this technique can be applied to many aspects of theater:  drama, comedy, song, or dance.  It seems to me that if a moment in one’s performance feels lost, it pays to take a look at the moment before it–to help set up and strengthen the troubling area.”

Am looking forward to putting this concept into practice.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist

Every Day Is A Practice Day

One of my students  has started using this mantra, along with a practice and lesson preparation schedule, to focus her energies as she prepares for an upcoming recital.   I must admit, this mantra is now on a yellow sticky note on my computer as a reminder to not put off until the end of my day what I enjoy most—practicing and playing the organ! 

With the busy lives we all lead, it is easy to forget that indeed we do have the opportunity to make every day a practice day.  Some practice days might include an hour or more at your church or a concentrated block of time on your home organ, while other practice days might include ten minutes on the piano at home or a half-hour sorting through music and planning for upcoming services or concerts.

The month of February provides us with a myriad of opportunities for making those practice days productive:

Lessons – use  your practice days to discover questions on repertoire, registration, or technique so you get the most out of lessons

Valentine’s Day – use your practice days to plan a musical gift for a friend or family member.  That special someone would surely enjoy a private organ concert.

Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday – before you don that mask for the Mardi Gras party or whip up the pancake mix for your Shrove Tuesday gathering, use your practice day to treat yourself and have a favorite music play-a-thon just for yourself.

Ash Wednesday – use your practice days to prepare introspective music for this important day in the liturgical season that signals the beginning of Lent

The First Sunday of Lent – use your practice days to plan, prepare, and practice not only the music for the six Sundays of Lent and the many services of Holy Week, but also to learn or relearn those rather difficult Easter hymns.

We organists certainly are blessed.  In what other profession or avocation is making every day a practice day filled with such sublime, joyous, introspective, glorious, and awesome results?  MUSIC!

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist

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