”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.”
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
Several times a year a copy of The Young Organist E-Newsletter appears in my Inbox. This publication compiled and edited by Godelieve Ghavalas for the Organ Music Society of Sydney explores various topics relevant to the young organist. To date, I have found the lively discourse of ideas apropos not only to youth but to organists of any age.
The focus of Ms. Godelieve’s newsletter last month was programming. Various concert organists, church musicians, and concert goers weighed in on the subject of creating a program that is interesting for an audience. The various writers commented sharing ideas that included:
- the music that should be part of a successful program
- whether there should be written or verbal program notes
- the pros and cons of using live camera feed projection to make the organist visible to the audience
- reasons for including other instrumentalists or singers and in general
- shared a wealth of information.
However, a one sentence comment by a teenage organ student put a point on the discussion. His comment: “It doesn’t matter what the piece of music is, which organ it is or what the program is, other instruments included or not, the piece of music must have that “WOW” factor and the player must be aware of this and know how to share it with the audience.”
Let’s all take this young organist’s advice and look for and not miss sharing the “WOW” factor with our audiences, our church congregations, our students, and ourselves. What a great project!
To read my interview with Ms. Ghavalas published in Pro-Motion Music’s E-Newsletter, click here.
The month of March, in the scheme of things as a music student–or music teacher— is sort of like a Wednesday, isn’t it? Sort of like a “hump month”.
The urban definition of the “hump day” or Wednesday, the middle of the week, implies that you have to get “over the hump” before you can anticipate the weekend. March marks the halfway point (the middle) of my Winter/Spring lesson schedule.
With the March lessons I encourage my students to move up and over “the hump”. The really hard work of setting goals, and in some cases facing disappointment, and starting the work to achieve those goals was done in January and February. In March we will start to hone those new skills and start enjoying that repertoire! By April we will be on the downward slope to achieving the goals you set in early January for this series of lessons. It is an exciting month!
Some of the goals set by my students this semester include:
- preparing and presenting an entire recital
- working through technique exercises, repertoire, and online speedback tests in the BYU Organ Course
- planning and preparing music to enhance worship services for Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter
- improving hymn playing skills
- learning the features and sounds of a new organ
- preparing repertoire for the Spring Recital on
- making every day a joyous practice day — a day of meeting challenges and making discoveries
Onward and forward through “hump month”!
…Jeannine Jordan, organ coach and concert organist
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
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
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 worship
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