Summer Update: A new teacher and a piano
July 1, 2018

Summer Update: A new teacher and a piano

I have two updates to share. First, I’m starting with a new teacher in August. And then, I bought a piano!

The teacher change:

When I reached out to Michael to schedule a lesson in June, he let me know that I needed to find a new teacher. He had personal reasons and also suggested that another teacher may be able to offer a new approach to my rhythm problems.

Michael had been my teacher for almost 9 years, as I started with him in September 2009. I am very grateful for all of his time, support, and advice. I hope to make him proud someday!

He also suggested that I find a teacher that could give me weekly lessons. I have a teacher lined for weekly lessons starting in August. I will withhold her name until I’ve met her in person and she approves having her name on my blog.

The piano:

My new teacher read some of my blog posts. She suggested a “back to basics” approach to fix my rhythm, which included practicing on a piano.

I didn’t have a piano. I probably could have worked out something with my church to practice on the piano there. My parents also have an old piano (it would need to be tuned though and might have other issues). Knowing myself, I felt like I needed to have a piano at home if I was going to be serious about it.

I went to King’s Keyboard House and purchased a used piano that was once in a school. It was already tuned, and I can turn it back into the store for credit if I ever want to upgrade to a better piano.

My new teacher had me order the Alfred d’Auberge Piano Course Books 1, 2 and 3 and NoteSpeller books 1 and 2. So far, I’ve played through all of book 1 and part of book 2.

Playing the very simple pieces in book 1 that contain eight notes, reveals my rhythm problems. So, I have a problem with the basics!

I am practicing with the metronome until I can meet with my new teacher.

The timing of needing/wanting the piano seemed meant to be as just a couple of weeks prior, my husband and I had emptied a bedroom to have it painted and to install cat shelves. So, we were able to accommodate adding a piano.

The cats do like to run across the piano, and some of them sit on the bench while I practice. I am thankful that there is a cover for the keys!

cat on shelf by piano

Kilala on the shelf by piano

Do you think piano practice will help make me a better organist?

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April 2018 Organ Lesson - Slow Progress is still progress!
August 2018: My first piano and organ lesson with my new teacher

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Rachel - July 2, 2018 Reply

A former teacher once told me that being an organist can make you a better pianist, and being a pianist can like wise make you a better organist. Although I can’t verify this to be true from my own experience, especially since I’ve always been playing both piano and organ in some capacity since I first started organ lessons, she certainly could having studied piano at the college level and being an excellent pianist several years (or longer) before being an organist was even suggested.

There are, however, a few things I can say from personal experience as an organist who spends quite a bit of time at the piano also. First, if you’re never playing an organ with tracker/mechanical action, it is very easy to fall into sloppy habits when it comes to technique because no additional physical effort is required at the organ compared to the piano. Obviously you don’t want to play a piece on the organ the same way you do the piano, but practicing organ music on the piano will quickly point out when your touch is not even throughout both hands or when your articulation or expression is not consistent in ways that can be harder to detect at the organ. As it seems you’ve already noticed, some underlying problems can remain in hiding at the organ that become painfully obvious at the piano. Second, spending time at the piano, which naturally has a heavier touch than most organs, can make difficult sections seem much easier to play on the organ. Sometimes the technical requirements of an organ piece prevents practicing a tricky spot on the piano, but when this is a possibility, I’ve found this to be a helpful practicing tool. Finally, any time I’ve spent at the piano tends to have a different level of awareness compared to when I’m practicing at an organ. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been as proficient at the piano, and therefore I’m always more mentally aware of what I’m doing, but so many beneficial insights about different organ pieces have come through practicing at the piano. You end up hearing and feeling the music differently, and that in turn impacts how you approach practicing a particular piece at the organ.

The key point here is that I think the piano has helped me in unexpected ways, and I think it can help organists regardless of their skill level or proficiency. So, even when you’ve moved past revisiting the basics, a piano can still be a helpful resource in your organ studies.

    Heidi Bender - July 2, 2018 Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I think the piano will help me too.

Carole Warner - July 2, 2018 Reply

Yes, definitely I think this will help you. But I was a piano major in college, and I am probably prejudiced. But I think this will do a lot for your rhythm problems. You will not have to think about your feet, just your hands, which will help at lot.

Alexander Lopez - July 2, 2018 Reply

Oh, yes… another organist who succumb to the piano allure.

For some reason I never had problems with my rhythm. Some say I was a gifted child, but I have never tought of me like that. maybe it was because I learn with the Yamaha method, which in turn is an adaptation of the proven Suzuki method.

One question, did you ever thought about getting an electronic piano, with weighted keyboard? I understand an used one can be bought for less than an upright piano, but things might be different in your town.

    Heidi Bender - July 2, 2018 Reply

    I did ask my new teacher about an electronic piano. She felt a real piano would be better for me, but that I could have used an electronic with weighted keys if a piano didn’t work out. I got the least expensive piano at the keyboard store!

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