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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.
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).
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.
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?
On June 17, I met with Michael for another organ lesson.
Since then, I have been preoccupied with the five feral kittens that were born in my yard. If you want to know more about that, I’m sharing updates on the Facebook page for my cats.
Now, about the lesson! This lesson was tough for me. I am still struggling with “Glory Be to the Father.” As can be seen in the picture, this should not be a challenging piece to play.
The problem is with the syncopation in the first measure. Michael called what I’m doing tempo redistribution. I am playing four beats in the measure but not playing the notes the length that they indicate. I get to the second measure “on time.”
This problem has been quite frustrating. I know am a playing it wrong. Looking at the note values, I understand how they relate to one another. Yet, somehow, I am still misplaying it. I was able to get it right at my lesson with coaching from Michael!
My problems continue, but I refuse to quit. What I can do is focus on better practice habits.
Since my previous lesson, I decided to write down how I am practicing. This way, when Michael asks me “how did I prepare for the lesson,” what I did is written down for reference.
I also thought writing it down, would help me improve my playing as I used the metronome much more than usual since I didn’t want to write down that it wasn’t used.
Given that I still had so many problems playing note values correctly, I wonder if I was listening to the metronome? Was it on, and I just blocked it out?
Here is a list of what I will work on between now and my next lesson:
Do you have any other suggestions?
On February 25, I had another organ lesson. This was my first lesson since I played for a church for the first time back on January 1st. Since I had to learn new pieces for that performance, I did not start focusing on the hymns assigned at my November lesson until mid-January. I took a break after the church performance!
Since my last lesson, I developed a habit of using only my toes when playing hymns! I did not realize I was doing this until Michael asked me about it. He asked me why was I hopping my toes?
I don’t know why I started doing this. Maybe it felt easier at the time. This technique lead to the pedaling in the hymns not being as legato as they should have been. He had me switch to using heels and toes. After I switched the hymns felt easier to play and sounded better too!
I am feeling a bit frustrated with introducing a new issue to correct!
None of my pieces received a passing mark at my lesson. I admit that I did not try my hardest to fix things on my own since my previous lesson. After practicing so much in December, I felt a little burned out. I let myself fall into old habits (not using metronome enough, not counting, etc.) and relied on Michael to point out the issues.
Obviously, this was not the best choice in progressing with the organ! With so many years of practicing, I have the tools to fix issues before lessons!
I played a few of the hymns that I had played for the church service in January. I was not surprised when Michael expressed that they were not in the best shape! He is having me work on Glory Be to God the Father for my next lesson.
The interesting thing is, I have all the tools to fix the issues and didn’t do it before the church service. However with the short time frame I had to learn the hymns, I did the best that I could for the church service. I will need to let it go that my performance was more cringe worthy than perfect.
My performance of each piece can be viewed on YouTube here.
In other news my kitten, Taco, has decided to that he likes to run across the keys when I am practicing! I would love from him to sit calmly on my lap while he plays. Sometimes he also investigates the pedals while I’m playing. We adopted (rescued) him in December.
Do your cats “Help” you practice?