August 2018: My first piano and organ lesson with my new teacher

On Friday, I had my first lesson with Marijim Thoene. She is my new teacher for organ and piano. When I contacted her a couple of months ago, she suggested that I get a piano (which I did) to help correct the issues I have with playing the organ. My weekly lessons will be for a half hour and may eventually be bumped up to an hour.

The Lesson

Marijim started the lesson by asking me to play something I know well. On the piano, I had made it most of the way through book 2 of the Alfred d’Auberge Piano Course. So, I choose Big Rock Candy Mountain, not feeling 100% confident, but I had to pick something.

Marijim commented on the position of my hands and forearms and the angle of my thumb on the keys. My technique needs work. If my I can improve my technique playing the piano will sound better and be easier. And the skill will help with my organ playing too.

Next, I played “Crown Him with Many Crowns” on the organ which didn’t go very well. Even though I have played this hymn many times at home (and by memory), I wasn’t able to make it through the second line. I was nervous (sweat through my shirt nervous), but I still should have been able to play it. I need to be able to play on any organ.

Perhaps, my problem with the organ is not having enough confidence in my playing.

My cat Lina supervising as I practice the piano after my first lesson with the new teacher.
My cat Lina supervising as I practice the piano after my first lesson with the new teacher.

The Assignment

Marijim gave me forearm exercises to do on the piano. The exercise involves exaggerated rotation of the hand and fingers. When playing just a 5 note scale, my hand is to rotate in the opposite direction, before rotating to strike the key. This rotation will give my fingers more power! I am to do the exercise in 15-minute intervals when I’m not distracted by anything else.

Also, she gave me a stretching exercise to do: Stand with my arms up and out to the sides and then bend my wrists up and down. Her wrists are much more flexible than mine.

I also need to work on my posture and stop slouching! Not slouching is painful and will take work. I already am starting to get the rounded shoulders of my mom and grandma. You can see the slouch in the video from when I played the organ for the first time at a church. I will be working on my posture all of the time, not just when playing the organ.

With my first lesson complete, I feel that if I put in the effort, I will improve my playing and along with it my confidence. And weekly lessons while provide greater accountability.


Summer Update: A new teacher and a piano
The Benefits of Weekly Piano Lessons
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.

6 thoughts on “August 2018: My first piano and organ lesson with my new teacher”

  1. I took organ lessons for over 20 years and have been a church organ for most of that. I was a fairly accomplished pianist before being introduced to the organ but once I was my heart never went back. I pray you won’t have to battle the same battles I have been lately. I love meeting and chatting with fellow organists so feel free to stop by my blog at May God bless you on your journey.

  2. Hi Heidi, Bet you will practice a lot more now knowing every week is a lesson. Nice new teacher didn’t intimidate you.
    I know you were a little anxious about your 1st lesson. Before long all your cats will sit around you while you practice because they will enjoy the music. Practice a 1/2 hour everyday for a while then it will be easier to practice an hour a days. Your teacher had some good advice for you.


  3. Heidi, it sounds like you will be able to make good progress with weekly lessons. I’m sure your new teacher will be very helpful. Sometimes it just takes someone who can watch and analyze what you’re doing. I’m very excited for you and I hope you will see your skills improving daily! I read an organist’s Facebook site that has the tag line “when you practice, miracles happen”. Ha ha! How true! Something we all need to remember. Terri Fryman


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