Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘organ lessons’

Re: Summer

Summer is a time when the “re” words come into play: reflection, review, refresh, revitalize, renew, revive. 

REFLECTION:  the consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose. 

We’ve come to that season of the year that invites reflection and review.  The school year has ended; the church year moves into the long season of

Pentecost or Ordinary Time; spring concerts are over; and for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, the snow and rain of winter and spring are distant memories.  

It’s time to reflect on the past nine months and ask ourselves three questions: “What did I do well?”  “What were my challenges?” and “What changes might I consider?” 

REFRESH: to provide new vigor and energy by rest, food; to stimulate the memory, to have more energy and feel less tired.

Ah, doesn’t that definition of “refresh” sound like the perfect summer prescription?  Rest and food!  It just doesn’t get much better than that.  It’s time to take those vacation days and have a change of scenery.  It’s time for some good unhurried meals with friends and family. WORK ON THE ENDING  What’s your favorite place to go to get recharged? It’s time to physically recharge and reinvigorate a tired body and mind. 

REVITALIZE: to imbue with new life and energy.

Summer is a great time to revitalize your creativity.  How?  Attend a workshop or conference.  Challenge yourself to study or explore a different art form or language.  Get out of your comfort zone or do just the opposite and spend time with like-minded people also looking for encouragement and fresh ideas.  MAKE PERSONAL  _ GET READER ENGAGED

REVIVE:  to activate, set in motion, or take up again, to make strong, healthy or active.

Yes, that is what these summer months are all about–  getting revived for our chosen work.


How To Stay the Course

                                        ”Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.

Talent will not;  nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

Genius will not;  unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education will not;  the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

–Calvin Coolidge

How to Stay the Course to achieve your musical goals and dreams:

  • Renew your vision of what you are working to accomplish regularly.  My students are encouraged to set and put in writing a new goal for their organ study three times/year: at the beginning of our fall, winter/spring, and summer organ lesson sessions.
  • Do something every single day to move in the direction of your desired achievement or goal.  As an organist, practice of course is of utmost importance.  But, what about those days when one cannot get to an instrument?  Listen to recordings, read about composers, peruse new music, talk to colleagues.
  • If you find yourself drifting away from your course, analyze what is going on.  Maybe the goal is too unwieldy, maybe the goal is too easily achieved, maybe you need to tweak the direction of the goal.  Analyze and regroup, but don’t stop your forward momentum.
  • Involve a friend or network in helping you achieve your goals.  The students in my organ studio are a cohort of individuals who actively support each other through email communication and several group meetings a year to share performances and ideas.
  • When you fail – and we all do – place yourself gently back on the path.  Redefine your goal and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your teacher, your family, and supportive colleagues.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist


Disappointment, Anyone?

I’d like to share an article one of my organ students, Jill Whisenant, wrote for my monthly Jordan Keyboard Studio Newsletter.   This practical article on overcoming disappointment hit a chord with me.

“Have you ever sat down to practice and you felt so heartsick you couldn’t play a note?  Everyone has felt a little blue from time to time, since ups and downs are a natural part of life, but strong negative emotions such as disappointment, discouragement and even depression can affect your life and your playing in a drastic way.  Left to fester, these feelings can keep you from having the energy or will to practice, perform or play at all forever (a very drastic finality).

I bring up this topic, not because it is a happy one, but because it is one we all seem to have to deal with  at some point in our playing careers, or with some other area in our lives and  – I’ve just been through it.  I had been working very hard on a piece, in hopes that I could play it for our local church youth choir.  I loved the arrangement and spent many hours practicing.  I introduced the song to the choir director, giving her the sheet music and a recording. She went over the piece and was very excited for the kids to try it.

But I was deeply disappointed when she said she wanted one of the choir members, a budding organist, to try to play it.  I had to agree; I have been long associated with this choir, and I knew its purpose was to be an opportunity for the youth to experience the music of the gospel with kids their own age.  It is not intended to be a showcase for adults.   So, I gave my doctored copy of the music to the young girl, because it had all the fingerings and pedaling done for her; she wouldn’t have to turn any pages the way I had laid it out in the file folder.  I hugged her and told her she’d do a wonderful job, I was sure of it.  And I went home feeling very blue.

I felt, though, that there was something more I should do.  Being a good sport is one thing, but I was still having trouble sitting down to practice. How could I make myself feel better, I mean really better – even happy that she is playing the piece and not me?  Well, what if I played something else for the choir?  Something hard, that I had been working on… something like … All Creatures of Our God and King?  Now that moving pedal line had been giving me grief!  I could use the practice with singers, too, I told myself, to see if the tempo was OK.  So I asked the choir director if I could play it on the organ for the opening hymn at choir practice.  She agreed, and not only had the kids sing it while I played, she had them get up from the choir seats and stand in the aisles of the chapel, in quartets, for a better mix of voices.  It was very exciting! Especially on the Alleluias, which I love.  And I went home happy.

I realized what a great blessing I had been given; sadness and disappointment vanished away in the blink of an eye.  What could have snowballed into a full-blown pity party had just been melted down into a little puddle of goo to be looked at and stepped over.  A good lesson was just learned in how to handle disappointment, simply by looking for a way to turn it around.  I had to want to feel better, and want it badly enough to actually do something about it.  Then I had to think of what might console me, and it helped to find something close to what I had originally wanted to do.  After that, it was just a matter of taking joy in the moment that was given, instead of dwelling on what couldn’t be.

Now this incident was a small one; your experiences are probably more varied and significant.  But hopefully you’ve found something here that you can remember the next time you are feeling more than a little picked on.  Frankly, it has been therapeutic for me to write this article.”

Jill Whisenant lives in Beaverton, Oregon with her husband and children, and plays the organ for her local congregation.

Creating a Culture of Trust

In the book, The Integrity Advantage, Gostick and Telford identify ten integrity characteristics Integrity characteristics can be integrated into the life of the whole musician—the musician with all the different parts working well and delivering the functions that they were designed to deliver to students, colleagues, and audiences.  One integrity characteristic a teacher should develop in a studio is …

To create a culture of trust. You develop a work environment that will not test the personal integrity of your students or your colleagues.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan's organ students

I am privileged to have a studio of nearly twenty adult organ students with whom I share a culture of trust. Some of my students have played for churches for years and are studying to enhance their service playing skills while others are pursuing playing the organ as a new avocation.

Together we have created a wonderfully trusting and supportive community where ideas and performances are shared freely and easily.

Student recitals, play-ins, organ crawls, theory lessons, and group lessons are events which enhance the shared culture of trust.  Students become colleagues in pursuit of realizing their goals of becoming better organists.  Working together, sharing ideas and music, creates an environment of trust does not test the personal integrity of any student.

Pedagogical Thought from Einstein

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” 

      Albert Einstein

What a thought-provoking pedagogical concept!

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.

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