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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “Beautiful story from Wally…”

March 25, 2013


Dear Michael,

I want to share my own musical story with you. When I was very young, my parents realized that I might have a problem with my eyes. They discovered that i was blind. My mother had and old reed organ in the house, and one morning I got up, plunked myself on the bench, and started picking up parts of songs. Only one problem, it was seven AM, whoops! Rather than killing me, my mother gently put me back to bed, and told me to come down later.

I took piano lessons, and despised them. I generally still really don't like piano music but I fell in love with the organ. At the time, I was extremely shy. My Grandfather purchased a small Kimball spinet organ, because he knew I liked music, and electronics. All my life now I've messed with electronic organs, and still love to play them, I'm no Newman, but I find it very enjoyable. I am mostly self taught and prefer playing in a theatrical style. I copied the techniques of our church organists, and because the stops were so many, the organist would come up and sit beside me so I could make registration changes. The thing had 61 knobs, and three manuals, of which I only used two, the choir, and the great.

I tried the pipe organ at the school for the blind, without permission. Unlike Carlo Curly, though, I didn't bleed all over the place. I simply walked up front, sat down, found the on button, and started playing it. I was sure I'd catch hell from Mr. Chard, the organ teacher. I could hear his heavy ponderous steps coming up the aisle, and I thought I was dead. How wrong I was, he sat down at a piano and played with me. "Well, Wally," he said, "if you're smart enough to figure out how to turn the organ on, and make it work, I sure don't think you'll break it, so, go ahead, and play it any time I'm not using it."

Michael, I'll never forget these wonderful people in my life. I would tell any organist to please be nice to folks that come up and ask questions. Sorry for being so long, but I just wanted to share a few things with you. Keep up the good work on pipedreams. Thanks.

Warmest Regards,


Wallace (Wally) Versluis

 

 

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