Video Archives - Heidi Bender

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Saville organ gets repaired and the pistons can be used!

Saville organ gets repaired and the pistons can be used!

Last week, Bill from Midwest Organ Systems visited my home and repaired my Saville organ. As a result of the repairs, I am now able to use the four pre-programmed pistons.

Saville organ gets repaired and the pistons can be used!

For the non-organists reading this, pushing a piston turns on many stops at one time. In the picture, the pistons are numbered 1 through 4 on the white buttons under the bottom manual (keyboard). In between the two keyboards are a row of numbers with lights under them. A red light indicates that piston is in use.

With this Saville model, only an organ technician can change the stops associated with each position. Once a piston is activated, additional stops can be added.

Due to there always being a problem with the at least one stop included in the piston setup, I haven’t used them in the past. I am excited that the pistons are finally working (I’ve had the organ for over seven years).

Other repair work

Some of the stops were not working properly. One of the pedal keys was out of tune since I’ve had the organ. When the previous repairman was here a few years ago, I forgot to mention this issue to him, so it didn’t get fixed.

Bill fixed all the problems, tuned the organ, and cleaned the key contacts. He also explained in detail how he could install a Hauptwerk Virtual Organ system into the console. When the Saville wears out, I will likely make the switch.

My cat Taco, was the only one of my cats intersted in “helping” Bill.

Seeing inside the organ was neat. There were many very small parts that had worn out.  There were more broken parts than pictured. Bill was prepared and able to replace them all.

Saville organ repair

Hear the Saville presets!

I made a recording of “Crown Him with Many Crowns” using a different position for each stop.

I got a little distracted when my cat jumped on the organ bench during the third verse!

This is the best that my organ has ever sounded. I know it’s old and electronic and doesn’t sound like a pipe organ. However, I love the convenience of being able to practice at home.

I am planning to have my next organ lesson in a few weeks! Due to socialing the feral kittens in my garage (which was very time consuming), I haven’t had a lesson since my lesson in June. We did keep one of the kittens (if you were wondering).

In the picture above that shows Bill working, you can see a board held in place over the expression pedals. This is to keep the cats out! Our two ginger cats still want to play and hide inside as they did when they were kittens and moved into the house in 2014 (they were also rescued from my yard). Violet, their mother, is seen in the video.

If you play an instrument at home, do your cats like to watch?

October 30, 2014

Pipe Organ Spooktacular with P.D.Q. Bach

Martin Ott, Op. 110 installed in First Presbyterian Church, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Martin Ott, Op. 110 installed in First Presbyterian Church, Ypsilanti, Michigan

Martin Ott, Op. 110
First Presbyterian Church, Ypsilanti, Michigan

Last Sunday, my husband and I attended the Pipe Organ Spooktacular put on by the Ypsilanti Pipe Organ Festival. There were 10 organists – all students from the University of Michigan.

The concert was centered around Halloween. The pipes were strung with cob webs and a giant spider (the spider is a bit hard to see in the picture). Also, each organist was dressed up in a costume. Many audience members were also dressed up. The costumes were judged during the intermission with the winner announced at the end. It’s been 5 days and I do not remember who won. I should have taken a picture!

P.D.Q. Bach:

The Toot Suite S. 212° by P.D.Q. Bach was entertaining and received some laughs. This was my first time to see this piece performed. It’s a duet with both players sharing the organ bench. The organists interaction with each other makes the piece fun to watch. And perhaps, the only organ concert I’ve been to where laughing was acceptable! I think many in the audience were already familiar with this piece.

There are 3 movements in Toot Suite S. 212°. Each movement was played by 2 different organists. Given that the organists were all wearing customs this made the performance a bit more amusing to watch.

Toot Suite S. 212° being played by 2 organists in costumes!

Toot Suite S. 212° being played by 2 organists in costumes!

I admit that this was my first time to encounter P.D.Q. Bach. The biography for P.D.Q. Bach seemed a little fishy in the program. The year of birth and death were in reverse order (1807-1742). And there was a story about P.D.Q. being J.S. Bach’s last offspring who was just given initials instead of a name.

I decided to “Google” P.D.Q. Bach. I discovered that P.D.Q. was made up by Peter Schickele. According to this article, Schickele developed a five-decade-long career, performing the “discovered” works of the “only forgotten son” of the Bach family. P.D.Q. means “pretty darn quick”.

Here is a video of Toot Suite S. 212°

The rest of the program:

Pipe Organ Spooktacular Program

Pipe Organ Spooktacular Program

We enjoyed the other pieces in the program too. I’ve thought about playing my organ at home during Trick or Treat on Halloween. However, I do not know how to play any creepy music yet! There were several pieces played that would fit the bill once I learn how to play them.

All of the pieces were well executed and a joy to listen to. The program ended with the well known Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (BWV 565) by J.S. Bach.

Have you or will you be attending a Halloween themed organ concert?

Did you already know about P.D.Q Bach?

What’s your favorite creepy sounding organ piece?

October 19, 2014

Learning Helmut Walcha’s chorale prelude of Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen

Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen choral prelude

Helmet Walcha's Chorale PreludesAt my last lesson, I was assigned Helmut Walcha’s chorale prelude of (or is it on?) “Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen”. One English translation is “Ah Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended.”

When Michael played it for me, my first impression was, that pedal line sure is repetitive! I didn’t think I’d like it. One note in the treble clef is held throughout the entire piece. Now that I am practicing this piece, I am enjoying it. There is a trance-like quality about it. And I fall asleep hearing the pedal line in my head.

If you’d like to hear it, I found this video on YouTube. The pedal line is a little hard to hear, but this is the only video I’ve found of it so far.


Since being assigned this piece, I decided it was about time I found out what a chorale prelude is! I will also share how I’m learning this piece to avoid the tempo issues I had at my last lesson and many lessons before that!

What is a chorale prelude?

This is the first chorale prelude that I’ve been assigned. I’m sure Michael has mention chorale preludes and it’s very likely I’ve heard one or more at an organ concerts. When I Google’d “what is a chorale prelude” the definition that come up is “an organ piece based on a chorale.”

What is a chorale? According to this Wikepedia article, it is a melody to which a hymn is sung. The prelude is a tune is played to introduce the hymn.

I’ve learned that “Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen” was written by Johann Heerman in 1630. The English text of all 15 stanzas can be read here. 10 years later the tune “Herzliebster Jesu”, was written ten years later by Johann Crüger. The chorale prelude was composed by Walcha in the 20th century.  To learn more about this chorale read this article which is where I obtained the history.

The Walcha’s chorale prelude that I’m learning may be played before “Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen”. I think the chorale prelude can also be performed as a stand alone piece (but I’d need Michael or other organists to confirm).

How I’m am learning this piece

Tempo and feeling the beat has become one of my biggest challenges to face. I tend to worry too much about playing the correct notes when learning a piece. This causes problems later. I also received some tips for other organists after I shared the post about my last lesson. I am practicing counting when I walk as suggested by John Craven.

Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen choral preludeWith this piece, I decided to take it very slow. Slow enough that I can play the right notes in the correct tempo. I am also relying on the metronome has my own sense of beat is not trustworthy yet. Also, the metronome will help me avoid problems with short changing rests.

The first rest in the pedal line in the photo would be one that I we not observe the full length of when learning a new piece. I would tend to rush over it, getting to the next too soon. I’m hoping with use of the metronome I can learn to feel the beat correctly on this piece.

I plan to have this pieced learned and at tempo for my next lesson.