October 2016 Lesson – When persistence with experimentation is required

It’s been 2 weeks since my last organ lesson. The delay in writing this post is because the lesson was tough for me. I relapsed into old habits without realizing it.  However, Michael recognized my old habits. One habit that resurfaced was slowing down for harder sections and speeding up in easier sections.

I must admit that I didn’t follow through on the list I made after my previous lesson. The list is sitting on the music rack. I saw it every practice session. I even read it during some of the sessions. But looking back, I wasn’t doing the items on the list.

One positive during the lesson was I finally got Lo, He Comes on Clouds Descending checked off my assignment list. Nothing new was assigned.

Sometimes, I feel like closing the console and looking out the window instead of working on my issues! But I am not giving up.

October 2016 Organ Lesson - persistence with experimentation

Persistence with experimentation

I am currently reading The Magic of Thinking Big (Amazon affiliate link) by David Schwartz. I came across this encouraging quote after my lesson:

We must have persistence. But persistence is only one of the ingredients of victory. we can try, try, and try and try and try again, and still fail, unless we combine persistence with experimentation. – David Schwartz.

I have been persistent over the last seven years in sticking with organ lessons. What I have been lacking is the experimentation. Michael gave me instructions at the lesson and I will think of them as an experiment.

Between now and my next lesson (currently scheduled for the end of November), I will be working on “becoming the metronome”. To accomplish this, I will be making a very short noise with my mouth (like ta, or tsk, or da) almost with my metronome at first.

This approach is different from my previous attempts to be like the metronome. In the past, if I was practicing with quarter note beat, I would sing or hum the entire beat. Instead of feeling the beat, I was learning to sing it in my own manner which may have not been correct.

What tactics have you used to break old, resurfaced habits? 

July 2016 Organ Lesson: Developing better at home practice
November 2016 Lesson - Much Better and no more jeans!
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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.

5 thoughts on “October 2016 Lesson – When persistence with experimentation is required”

  1. Hello Heidi

    I am so happy that you are continuing with the organ and really admire your persistence. I am going through a similar struggle myself.

    Like you, I found that I was slowing up for the harder passages and eventually realised that a lot of my problems arose because I just didn’t know the notes well enough and it took a lot more repetitions of the right thing than I realised to really get some passages into my system.

    I try to practice little and often and to really focus on making music and enjoying it (even if it is just one of the parts at first). I think I was also trying to progress too quickly and that was pardoxically holding me back.

    The changes I have made are:

    1. Sorting out the fingering first, marking the score and really sticking with it.
    2. Stopping every time I make a mistake and really sorting it out before moving on.
    3. Really learning a phrase at a time. Starting from the end of the piece and working to the front is sometimes helpful as one is then moving from the unknown to the known.
    4. Really learning the individual parts (LH, RH, Pedals) up to speed as well as putting them together slowly and gradually building up the speed.

    I am also trying to have underway some easy pieces that I can play as well as a tricky one or two. This adds variety and reward to my practice.

    I am really finding all of this very helpful and feel that I have finally broken through the “glass ceiling”. Hopefully you may find some of this helpful to.

    All best


  2. I admire that you continue despite your struggles. One of my favorite quotes is by Robert Green Ingersoll… “The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart”.


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