October 2013 Lesson – Learning to play hymns correctly

My cat Kilala looking down the organ pedals.
My cat Kilala looking down the organ pedals.

I had another organ lesson last Saturday at Trinity with Michael Gartz. We started with the 3 hymns I’ve been assigned. I chose to begin with “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place” as I was confident in my ability to play it. After I played it through, Michael said it was some of my best hymn playing! We discussed a few minor issues with the refrain and Michael gave me a passing mark.

Next we moved on to “Nearer, Still Nearer”. This hymn was not as successful. My tempo was not consistent and some notes were not held long enough. It would seem logical that I could play this hymn just as well as the first hymn I played but my mind doesn’t work that way yet. I need to dedicate more time to this hymn before my next lesson.

My goal is to become a church organist which means I must learn to play hymns correctly!

The last hymn was “All Creatures of our God and King”. At my previous lesson, Michael pointed out that I was not playing the pedal part legato. Legato means there should not be a break between notes creating a continuous sound. I thought I had this problem fixed! I had recorded myself many times at home while practicing. In my mind I was playing it legato and it sounded good to me on playback! I had become overconfident and failed to hear my own problem.

On Sunday afternoon I decided to make a video of me playing “All Creatures of our God and King” with the camera only on my feet. When watching the video I could clearly see that the pedal notes were not connected. In one section, I was picking up my foot instead of sliding it to the next pedal resulting in the non legato sound. Now, I cannot deny the problem. I have seen it with my own eyes. This is good news! I will work on it and be able to play this hymn correctly at my next lesson.

We ended the lesson with the 2 classical pieces that I am learning. If you are interested in what my current assignments are I’ve added a new page.

What is your favorite hymn? Perhaps, I will learn to play it some day.


Announcing a couple of updates
My top 3 reasons for creating a list of pipe organ terminology
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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.

9 thoughts on “October 2013 Lesson – Learning to play hymns correctly”

  1. I’m trying to prove “Its never too late to learn” which is perhaps tempting fate art 84 years of age and my first superb Allen Historique 1 organ just installed at home. You will gather I like a challenge and an active brain will,so they say, prevent Alzehimers Disease but finding my glasses is suffient for mow

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  3. Kilala???? Is this cat from Hawaii? Where did you come up with that name? lol
    Enjoyed your blog, as I always do. I couldn’t believe your ingenuity to film your feet while playing that hymn!!!! How totally clever….and how wonderful that you found your problem that way. I am totally amazed at you! You do not want to know my favorite hymn because it would be hymn’sssssss !!! I could not name just one because there are so many that I truly love. I’ll just name a few: Just a Closer Walk with Thee; Crown Him with Many Crowns; Be Still My Soul; The Church is One Foundation; For All the Saints Who From Thy Labors Rest; What a Friend We Have in Jesus; A Mighty Fortress is our God; Oh, Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken; and many, many more, but I think this list will keep you busy for awhile. Maybe you have already learned some of them. I’d be interested in knowing if you have. I will continue to think of more of my favorite hymns for you to learn.

    • Hi Mary Jane!

      Kilala was a barn cat. We got her as a kitten from a friend. Ted named her based on a cartoon he was watching at that time.

      I do not know how to play any of the hymns you listed yet! Eventually, I will be good enough that I can learn new hymns more quickly.

      thanks for reading!

  4. Heidi, I like all the hymns you have in your lesson right now. Just wondering if during the next months if you
    will have any Christmas music to practice. Away in a Manger is my favorite. I think your persistence will pay off at your next lesson.


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