June 2014 Organ Lesson with an experiment

Last Saturday, I met with Michael for another organ lesson. It had been 10 weeks since my last lesson! We did an experiment with “Crown Him with Many Crowns” which I share about at the end of this post.

Michael's view of me playing the organ at my lessons.
Michael’s view of me playing the organ at my lessons.

Prelude and Fugue in F Major

I started my lesson with Prelude and Fugue in F Major. I am close to having the prelude ready! I just need to workout the last 3 measures…. Michael felt that we should not call it close enough and move on. And I agree with it that. I am too close to having it right to move on now.

The fugue did not go so well. My tempo was not consistent and I was exaggerating the articulation. For the next lesson I am to play it legato but with even tempo. I also need to be able to play the parts (soprano, tenor, etc. separately) and be able to start anywhere!

Berceuse (French for lullaby)

Berceuse was the last piece. I shared with Michael that I need to get this one checked off my list. It is not that hard and I have been playing it for over a year and I knew it was not at an acceptable level going into the lesson. I need to work out the details (the problems) and get it right for the next lesson. I have been playing the wrong notes for too long. I now need to overcome and change my muscle memory!

The Hymns:

I played the hymns in the middle. The hymn playing did not turn out how I thought it would. I was fairly confident in the 3 hymns on my assignment list:

  • “At the Name of Jesus”
  • “Crown Him with Many Crowns”
  • “Be Thou my Vision”

The Unexpected:

Of the 3 hymns, I thought Be Thou my Vision was the least likely to get Michael’s approval. However, this was the only one that got a passing mark! This is also the first time a hymn was only on my assignment list once. I was assigned this hymn last lesson and gave an acceptable performance at this lesson (which was the next lesson after it was assigned).

For the Next Lesson:

I was assigned the hymn “Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether”. I do not know this hymn and look forward to learning it. All the other pieces will remain on the list. I would love to get approval on all my pieces at my next lesson! What an accomplishment that would be!

An Experiment:

For “Crown Him with Many Crowns” we tried an experiment for me to be able to hear the issues with my playing. Michael played the hymn and we recorded it and then we recorded my version. Incidentally, the best I played it was when we were recording it. I still managed to miss a pedal note or two in the last line (every time I played it for Michael!)

Heidi’s version:


Michael’s version:


My version may have sounded okay, but Michael’s version is the goal. The key is playing in such a way that inspires people to sing!

What did you think of the “Crown Him with Many Crowns” Experiment? Can you hear the differences between Michael’s version and mine?


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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.

8 thoughts on “June 2014 Organ Lesson with an experiment”

  1. What you have to remember is Michael has been playing for years – you haven’t! Apart from the speed (& I only mention this because you’re still learning it), this was good 🙂

  2. Heidi,

    You played very well. Maybe I heard one slight difference but would not have noticed if had not
    listened to both you and Michael. NO ONE is perfect. Michael did go a little faster. IF that is the goal then I know you can go a little faster. Keep up the good work.


  3. OH! I am in 7th heaven after listening to both of you play one of my MOST favorite hymns. I will be saving this blog so that I can listen to both of you play “my hymn” over and over and over again. I could feel such deep love in my heart as I listened to both versions. I was so impressed with yours that I had tears in my eyes! Heidi, don’t ever give up your dream because I truly believe that you will be playing the organ for the church someday! You are very good. I recall when I lived in the UP, our organist’s made bloopers a lot, so it’s expected! To me, the ONLY difference between yours and Michael’s recordings was that he played faster. So, speed it up a tad and you will definitely ‘graduate’ from this hymn. Keep up the wonderful work!!!!! I wish you’d blog more recordings.

    • Hi Mary Jane,

      Thanks for listening! Most hymns can be found on YouTube now being played by an organist if you have other favorites that you’d like to hear (before I learn them!). I’d prefer to be a blooper free organist! It makes for a better experience for the congregation.


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