About Heidi Bender

About

My name is Heidi Bender.

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 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 for 11 years and we have three indoor cats. We also fed the stray “Other Buster” in the backyard for about 18 months, but he has since disappeared. In July, 2014 a mom cat showed up with 5 kittens and we’ve spent the summer feeding them and will look to find homes for them soon.

My Teacher – Michael Gartz

Michael Gartz

Michael Gartz

Michael Gartz is my teacher and mentor. 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.

My 3 cats at my organ.

My 3 cats at my organ.

 

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Rachel C - September 17, 2019 Reply

Hi Heidi! I am so thankful I found your blog! I have been the only organist/pianist at our church for the last 14 years. Although I took 2 semesters of organ in high school I didn’t practice much because I was NEVER going to play again. The church had an old organ so I didn’t do much footwork, but last week we got our new Allen Organ and I’m suddenly inspired to play the pedals! I am so glad to hear it IS possible to start playing pedals as an adult and I’m a lot less terrified now. I even ordered organ shoes because of course I got rid of mine after college when I was never going to play again. 😉 Thanks for the inspiration.

    Heidi Bender - September 19, 2019 Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    Thank you for leaving a comment! Good luck with the pedals! I would be better by now if I made more time for practicing!

    Heidi

Tom Cotner - July 13, 2019 Reply

Hello Heidi — I was just advised of your blog by the daughter of the shop foreman of Saville Organ, when it was in Northbrook, Illinois. She thought I’d be interested, because I was the tonal director of Saville from 1970 to 1975, during which time, we built the organ for the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago — at that time, the largest electronic organ which had ever been built. I enjoyed my time there, and many instruments passed through my design desk, as well as many pleasant tonal finishing jobs in many churches all over the United States.
I left Saville and joined another company on the west coast, after which I came back to my native Oklahoma and started up my pipe organ building workshop. I have now retired from that, but I do have the entire file system and all paperwork from the original Saville Company, in Illinois, as well as the later company in Wichita Kansas. (I also have in my possession, the console from the Auditorium Theatre, which was taken out some years back.
If anyone reading your blog would have any interest in any paper work, diagrams, plans, specifications, electrical schematics of any particular organ, I’ll be glad to provide it, as I have it all, actually, I have everything from the old Saville Corporation which may exist.
Best wishes with your organ — it is a fine instrument, ideal for a home, and a delight for anyone to play and enjoy.
Tom Cotner – Cotner-Pipe Organs, Martha, OK 73556 — 580-649-1208 cotnert@gmail.com

    Heidi Bender - July 20, 2019 Reply

    Hi Tom,

    thank you for providing your contact information and sharing your story with Saville. Occasionally, I get emails asking if have diagrams, etc. I will be sure to refer them to you in the future!

    Heidi

    Bill Ziegler - August 23, 2019 Reply

    Tom, I always wondered where the console from the Auditorium Theater in Chicago went. It was on 3-phase power as I remember. I saw the electronics on that console years ago when I went with Dennis to try to revive it. Saville was always an amazing organ to hear. Sometimes difficult to work on due to the amount of boards and electronics inside it, but at least they were repairable. I have amplifier assemblies, coupler/generator boards, blueprints and more here also. I’m sure no where as much as you have. The pedal speakers on that Chicago organ were beyond awesome! Huge tubes that worked extremely well. I remember meeting Bob Saville years ago. He was an amazing man!

Bill B - December 12, 2018 Reply

I was searching for Saville organs, and found your posts. Someone donated a Saville to the Chicago Auditorium Theatre long ago. Virgil Fox recorded on the organ, and you can find it on YouTube. That venue had a Roosevelt organ installed in 1899. It was removed after William Barnes bought it in 1942. Barnes wrote about it in his book. It was headed for junk! Most problems with older electronic organs involves the capacitors. In particular, capacitors in the amplifier(s). Keep up your work.

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