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 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
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.
In their book The Integrity Advantage, Adrian Gostick and Dana Telford identify ten “integrity characteristics.” Let’s examine how these “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.
Let’s now examine one of these characteristics which involve making effective decisions.
You find the white (when others see gray). You don’t make difficult decisions alone. You receive counsel and take the long- term view.
Several years ago the church where I was teaching initiated a room use fee. This fee was going to greatly increase the expense to my organ studio. Instead of merely announcing to my students that a room rental fee would be added to the following semester’s lesson fees, I asked for counsel from my students and sought other alternatives.
We took the long-term view by carefully weighing the convenience of the present teaching space, the type of organ, and the ability to reserve the space not only for lessons but student concerts as well.
In the end, through the counsel of my students, I made the decision to remain at the same church and add a room use fee to the lesson amount. The students, because of their buy-in, understand the addition of the fee and are satisfied with the studio location.
Musicians of integrity work together to create a better learning situation for the future.
In reality, organ scores look like a grouping of dots, lots of lines, some strategically placed squiggles, and a few words placed here and there. When you think about it, isn’t it amazing what our brains tell our fingers and feet to do with all that black ink on a white page?
Organists are truly amazing creatures in that we can make sense of all those lines, dots, squiggles, and words and actually create ordered sound from them. However, to create music from that ordered sound we must go well beyond the dots, lines, squiggles and words. We must look at other clues to help us complete the puzzle—to unleash your creativity—and to make music. So what are those clues?
- Is you piece based on a hymn? If so, what is the text of the hymn? Read the text carefully—yes, every verse. How can the text “inform” your performance of the dots?
- What is the historical context of your piece? How can this information “inform” your performance of the dots?
- Is your piece a transcription? If so, what was the original instrumentation? Should this information “inform” your performance of the dots?
- What was the organ the composer might have played? Should this information “inform” your 21st-century performance of the dots?
- What is the form of the piece? Theme and variation, through composed, fugue? How does the from dictate how you play the dots?
- What is your “picture” of the piece? What do you hope your listeners will hear?
Make sure you always share more than the spots with your listeners.
Dr. Jeannine Jordan, organ instructor and concert organist