Saville Organ Archives - Heidi Bender

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Saville organ gets repaired and the pistons can be used!

Saville organ gets repaired and the pistons can be used!

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.

Saville organ gets repaired and the pistons can be used!

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).

Other repair work

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.

Saville organ repair

Hear the Saville presets!

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?

What I’ve learned since deciding to take organ lessons

Heidi at Adrian College Organ. One of the first photos of Heidi at pipe organ.

Heidi at Adrian College Organ. One of the first photos of Heidi at pipe organ.

In early 2009, I decided that I wanted to take organ lessons. You can read about how I reached that decision here. After a couple of months of thinking about it, I decided to take action and find a teacher. In this post, I will share how my life has been impacted and lessons I’ve learned since deciding to take organ lessons.

I learned that I can be bold and courageous

In June 2009, I started looking on the Internet for an organ teacher in my area. I checked church websites looking for organists and eventually discovered that Adrian College had an organist. On June 9, with my husband encouraging me to “Just Do It”, I took the risk and emailed Michael Gartz, who was the Adrian College organist at that time.

I was VERY nervous. My fear of rejection was quite high even knowing that the worst possible outcome was that he would say “No” or never reply. I even offered an out in the email asking “Do you offer private lessons in the Adrian area or do you only teach the college courses?”

I do not recall approaching a stranger for anything like this before in my entire life. Michael was not soliciting for students. This was a random email from a random adult with no organ experience.

Within 30 minutes I received a response from Michael stating that he would be happy to give me lessons! I had to wait for the fall semester for my lessons to begin. That summer I ordered the Method of Organ Playing (8th Edition) by Harold Gleason and a pair of OrganMaster organ shoes. And then waited for September to come. If you didn’t know that most organists wear special organ shoes check out this post that explains organ shoes.

Because the fear is gone now, sending an email with such a request seems like such an easy thing to do.  At the time it felt like a huge barrier to overcome. Writing that email proved that I can be bold and have the courage to do things despite having fear.

What I’ve learned since starting lessons:

  • The obvious impact is that I have learned how to play the pipe organ! Even watching myself on YouTube I am amazed that I’ve done it! I still require lots of time to learn something new, but I can play the pipe organ!
  • I have learned the value of persistence and patience I did not know how long it would take to learn to play the organ when I started. I thought I would be proficient in a year or two! My ability to learn how to play was slow. I also had limited practice time. Sometimes I felt very frustrated with my lack of progress. Even Michael thought I might give up! I kept on going knowing that my persistence would pay off.
  • Learning more hymns My assignments have included hymns. As a result, I have been exposed to some that I did not know that are quite beautiful. For example, My Faith Has Found a Resting Place (even my cat likes it!). If I had not taken up organ lessons, it is very unlikely that I would have ever heard them.
  • Organ behind the couch!

    Organ behind the couch!

    An organ will fit behind my couch! When I first started taking lessons, I practiced on the neglected pipe organ at my church. After a month or so, it began to cipher. My church didn’t mind me playing the organ but they were not going to fund any repair work. Michael arranged for me to have an old electronic Saville organ that had been donated to Adrian College. They were not using it and it would soon be in the way of some renovation work. On November 30, 2009 the organ was moved from Adrian College to my living room. My house is not big so we made room for the organ and the large speakers behind the couch.

  • Exposure to live events I have attended many organ concerts and recitals. Hearing organ music is live is an awesome experience. Also, Michael introduced me to Messiah. It’s amazing that not aware of it as it it such a remarkable oratorio.
  • I have discovered that I love to write I started this blog to share my experience with my family and friends. I had not written much before then. Even though I have not always been consistent about updating the blog, I love the writing process and sharing with others. Now that the novelty of becoming an organist has worn off, I want to determine what the focus of this blog should be.
  • Playing the organ will not pay much as I assumed I distinctly remember a lesson at St. Marks in Toledo (Michael was the organist there at the time). Michael mentioned the organist who would be subbing for him soon. This organist had another job besides being an organist. Oh, that was interesting. When I asked more questions, Michael explained that many organists had more than one job and that organists are not often paid all that much.

I don’t know where my expectations came from but this was a wake up call. I started thinking about how I would need to do something else along with being an organist. I read Quitter. I went to the Quitter Conference (and I was bold enough to go alone!). I started reading blogs and listening to podcasts. What else could I do that would would give me the flexibility to have more practice time. My post college jobs have had a one hour commute each way. How much different would my life be if I could eliminate the commute time?

I learned about online business and people making money form their blogs. I found myself inspired by Pat Flynn’s story at He was let go from his job as an architect and now makes thousands online each month. If I could start an online business, then I could work from home, drive much less, practice more, and write more. In November of 2013 I joined the Internet Business Mastery Academy (affiliate link) to learn how to get started. I have started another website about writing thank you notes – Building online income takes hard work and time. Just like learning to play the organ, it doesn’t happen overnight!

  • I have experienced JOY unlike any other JOY that I have ever felt before. Sometimes when I am practicing and I’m able to play the piece with ease, I am am overcome with JOY. The sense of happiness like nothing else.

The most important lesson learned:

We can make choices and that includes our mindset. We can decide to do something different and to try something new. Lose weight, eat only real food, take up a musical instrument, you name it you can try it! As Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

If there is something you’ve always wanted to try, do it and see how it impacts your life. Even if it doesn’t work out, at least you will be able to check it off your bucket list!


May 31, 2014

My Faith Has Found a Resting Place with my cat (video)

Cat Kilala on organ bench

My cat, Kilala, sitting on the organ bench.

My cats like to watch me practice the organ. We have 3 cats, but Kilala is that cat that spends the most time with me on the organ bench. Back in September of 2013, I made a video while practicing “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place”.

Before I started making videos, I did not realize how often she looked up at me while I was playing. This video is not in the best focus. The goal of the video was to be able to play it back and hear how I sounded. Kilala looks very cute even when blurry. Please be sure to watch until the end to see what she does!


If you watch the first video that I posted to YouTube, you will notice a huge difference in the sound of this electronic Saville organ compared to the pipe organ at Trinity Episcopal church. The old electronic organ sound does not match that of a pipe organ.

Thanks for watching! If you like it, share it with your friends.