My name is Heidi Bender and in 2009 I decided to become an organist. This was much more of an undertaking than I ever imagined. It has taken a lot of persistence. I am continuing to take lessons to increase my skill to become employable as a church organist.
In this blog, I share about my experiences with the organ and hope to provide a little inspiration to those that feel “too old” to start something new. My route to becoming an organist was atypical. I started lessons at the age of 33 and continue to study (and practice) in my living room. Most organists begin lessons when they are young and some go on to earn degrees in the organ. Read more about how I decided to become an organist here.
This blog will document how my life continues to be impacted by my pursuit of the organ. I also hope you will learn something new about the pipe organ, organists, and organ music (and perhaps, cats!). To subscribe to receive posts via email, enter your email into the subscribe box on the right side of this page.
Since starting this blog, I’ve struggled a bit to define my audience. Is it other organists? People looking for inspiration? Currently, it is a mix of both. I thank you for reading. Please feel free to use the contact page if there is a topic you’d like to see on this blog.
I will also include photos and stories of my cats from time to time. Sometimes my cats visit me when I am on the organ bench when I practice on my Saville electronic organ.
I am currently employed as a full-time data manager (this does not mean data entry). I’ve been married to Ted since 2002 and we have eight indoor cats and three outdoor semi-feral cats. I learned how to do Trap-Neuter-Returen in 2017, so they are all fixed!
In 2018, I started with Marijim and appreciate all the years that Michael helped me on my journey!
My Current Teacher – Marijim Thoene
Marijim received a B.M. degree in Liturgical Music from Peabody Conservatory, an M.M. in Organ Performance from the University of Southern California and a M.M and D.M.A. in Church Music/Organ Performance from the University of Michigan. She has also studied at Queen’s College and University College in Oxford, the Organ Academy in Pistoia, Italy and at the University of Salamanca. She has been director of music at churches in Baltimore, Oxfordshire, San Diego, Ann Arbor and New Orleans, and has been on the faculty at the University of New Orleans, and Our Lady of Holy Cross College in New Orleans.
My First Teacher – Michael Gartz
Michael Gartz was my teacher from September 2009 – early 2018. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Organ Performance from Eastman School of Music. He is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Organ and Choral Accompanist at Bowling Green State University. He is also the organist at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Toledo, OH and for the Canterbury Singers USA. Michael is an incredibly patient teacher and I am thankful that he continues to provide me with lessons.