Why I didn’t buy a Rodgers organ

Rodgers Organ Brochure
Rodgers Organ Brochure

At the AGO convention I attended recently one of the exhibitors was Rodgers Instruments. They had a very nice digital organ on display. The unit included a headphone jack so, with the head phones in, I played a few bars. Or course it sounded much more like a pipe organ than my 1970’s electronic organ. I also liked the headphone feature as it would allow me to practice with some privacy. My husband and those walking on the sidewalk would not hear me practice. The idea of having newer model was tempting.

Rodgers sells many different organ models and prices range from $20,000 to $50,000 and up. The price range is very similar to a new car. New car or new organ? It could be a tough choice for me. I brought home one of the Rodgers’ brochures showcasing the Rodgers 500 series which according to their website is “is equally at home in a church, practice room, school or community hall.”

The reason I didn’t buy a Rodgers organ:

Bottom line is a new organ will not make me a better organist. Sure it would sound better but it would not improve my technique. It would not help me learn new music faster. It would not correct my tempo issues. Some things, like organ skill, can’t be bought and require hard work, practice, and persistence.


American Guild of Organists Region V Convention 2013
The Tiffin, OH Connection
Website | + posts

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.

7 thoughts on “Why I didn’t buy a Rodgers organ”

  1. What you say reminds me of something I heard once about a church that had only just come out of the long and involved process of a building/buying a new organ. Apparently, one particular congregant was not 100% satisfied, even though the organ was of a reputable make, nicely voiced, good variety, etc. After a service, this congregant was conversing with another who remarked on how much better the new organ sounded compared to the former. The congregant shrugged her shoulders and stated: *It certainly does, but the organist is no better.*

    Now, while I agree with what you say that no new instrument will improve ones playing, technique, tempo consistency, expression, etc. I do think that a new instrument (especially we who have had to make do with organs of certain vintage that sound far removed from anything we might call authentic) can generate a new vigor, motivation, inspiration and dedication which, in turn, can serve to see one practicing more. Perhaps practicing with more attention on areas of weakness (since we know how trackers are unforgiving with note errors). I recall when I accepted a job just before I graduated my degree program where, for the first time, I would play a tracker, and a heavy one at that. For the first few weeks, I was perplexed wondering what had happened to my playing and the cleanliness therein, until I learned that tracker organs emit every nuance and respnods to even a finger sliding over a key gently. This meant I had NOT been aware of how much electropneumatics cover up or make less obvious the things I was now hearing. I had to seriously concentrate of refining certain elements of my technique and that took more practice than ever before. There was a joy to it, though, because the organ had a magnificent, silvery Baroque sound so it was always a pleasure to practice.

    So I think that perhaps you could allow yourself to believe that, one day, when you decide to take a new organ, it can and most likely will, lend something new to your playing. I admire your level of discipline and control, to pull back and say NO for the most practical of reasons. Would that I could see myself doing the same. 🙂

  2. Heidi, What a GREAT blog!! It was so interesting from start to finish and your reasoning is so intelligent. A new organ won’t change the way you play it, but I understand how nice it would be to have a new one. We all like and want new things, but sometimes, most times, we need to put the brakes on and THINK like you did. Good job!!!!

    Mary Jane

  3. Good choice, Heidi. Your present organ was free and is still playable.
    Maybe the people on the street like to walk by and listen to your music.
    If lived beside you, I would sit out on the porch and listen to your music.
    I know a new organ would be very nice for you. Guess there are several things on
    the “I need list” before jumping to the “I want list”.

    • Hi Mom,

      Thanks for the comment! Maybe people do like to hear my play when they walk. You are welcome to sit on my porch and listen when it’s cool enough to have the windows open.



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