April 2018 Organ Lesson – Slow Progress is still progress!

On April 7, I met with Michael for another organ lesson. I didn’t have a lesson in February or March. By the time I was ready (I contact him once I feel I have progressed enough to make a lesson worth his time), he was busy with Easter commitments.

April 2018 Organ Lesson - Slow progress is still progress

Lesson Highlights

I started the lesson by playing “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.” I nailed the first half! With the second half (which is a bit harder for me to play) I am still playing with my old habit of redistributing the tempo. I thought I had this worked out at home, but when we worked in small sections and with Michael pointing things out, I could hear the problems. So, I will continue to work on this.

“Christ is the sure foundation” finally received Michael’s stamp of approval. I did have some tempo issues, but I had a recording from home that proved that I can play it correctly (with the metronome). I’d been playing this hymn for almost a year. I was ready not to play it again.

My love/hate relationship with the metronome continues!

“Let it Breathe on Me” was interesting in that I could play it with the metronome but the tempo was wonky without it. So perhaps I have become too reliant on the metronome.

I am still struggling with note accuracy Fugue from Prelude and Fugue in E Minor once the pedal part comes in. Michael suggested that I practice it without the metronome until I have the notes correct.

The metronome isn’t always my friend!

Slow progress is still progress

My progress feels slow and it slow, having to practice hymns and other pieces for a year or more isn’t a stellar pace. But I am still improving and haven’t given up! Persistence will win.

Part of my slow progress is due to not making the time to practicing every day. Recently, my foster cat has taken priority over my organ practice (and other activities) in the evenings. He has to be kept separate from my other cats since he has feline leukemia virus and I want to spend time giving him attention every day.

But, if I really wanted to get better faster, wouldn’t I find a way to practice more? Do less of something else to have time for the cat and organ practice? I can make different choices.

The habit of not practicing every day has become just that, a habit. I need to work on straightening the habit of daily practicing! I am feeling inspired to work on this habit after reading this blog post on the Yes and Yes blog.

My progress is slower than I want it to be but it’s still progress. I can also tackle my practice habit to get better faster.

Have you changed a habit that lead to significant change or improvement? Share a success story in the comments!

January 2018 Organ Lesson - The need to become self aware
Summer Update: A new teacher and a piano
Website | + posts

Heidi Bender writes about her experiences of learning to play the organ. She started on the adventure in 2009.

She also writes on her website Tons of Thanks, which helps people write thank-you notes. Heidi is also a cat lady who writes at The Joy of Cats.

7 thoughts on “April 2018 Organ Lesson – Slow Progress is still progress!”

  1. Hi Heidi,

    I’m so glad I found your blog, and so glad that you are persevering in your passion and your studies. Good for you for hanging in there! Like you, I too have a lifelong passion for music, playing the organ (I have six of them at home), and playing tuba in our local brass quintet and in community band.

    One of the techniques that I found very useful for smoothing out my tempo was to play a bunch of Sousa marches (in fact I will be playing a bunch of them in church this coming Sunday, for our July 4th celebrations). They don’t necessarily have to be played at 120 bpm, slower is just as useful as fast tempo, but the rhythmic nature of the marches themselves tend to level out tempo fluctuations.

    I wish you much success in your studies. May you ever become more (dare I say it?) “organized” (groan).

  2. Oh my goodness! I’m so excited to find your blog! I am also an organist and took lessons for about 25 years before my mentor retired. I’m on my own now and facing a new pastor at church that would just rather see the organ moved out so I’ve been under a lot of stress and discouragement which has caused my practice to suffer. I’m trying to get back on track but it’s oh so difficult without the encouragement I’m used to from my mentor. Anyway, as I read some of your entries I see myself as I was years ago. I want to encourage you to not quit…ever. You are very fortunate to have an organ at home. I’m still dreaming of that day. I’ll be going back and reading more of your entries and will be watching for new ones.

    • Hi Julie,

      I read your blog post about your troubles. That is so unfortunate, and my worst nightmare. You see, we are actively searching for a new Priest and this is a good reminder to have the search committee ask probing questions about their vision for the music ministry. I helped install a new organ less than 2 years ago and it would kill me to have the same thing happen to us. Luckily, my wife is on the search committee. I just sent her your blog post.

      I really hope things improve for you and your congregation.

  3. Glad you’re still keeping at it! And so am I although without lessons these days. Progress has been very slow for me as well, but it helps being employed at the local church. Nothing like deadlines to learn hymns and preludes to keep me practicing!


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