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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: How to learn to play an organ

December 18, 2005

Dear Michael:
I am just starting to play the Pipe Organ. I am going to be practiceing on an 1866 Hall & Labagh Organ. I don’t know what books to buy to start practicing, or CDs, or anything. I don’t even know what kind of materials to use to practice. So, I was wondering if you had any suggestions for what I should do.

Christian T. Bruce
Warrensburg, NY


Dear Christian:
Well, congratulations for your courage, but it sounds as though you may be jumping into the deep end without proper preparation.

If you have not studied keyboard before, beginning with the organ is probably not the best idea. If you do have a good keyboard background, you might still do best to have a teacher guide you through your first explorations. If you do not have a qualified teacher in your town (have you asked your local church organist?), I suggest that you contact the Eastern New York Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, their direct website is http://agony.bizland.com, and the main site for the AGO is http://www.agohq.org. Believe me, it is best to begin with a teacher, as the questions you ask about materials leads me to believe that you are in a quandry as to where/how to begin.

Of course, our website here has plenty of information and links to resources which will help you along. Just browse with patience and diligence.

I note, too, that Warrensburg is north of Saratoga Springs, which will be the center of the Organ Historical Society’s national convention in 2006 (June 25-30), and you might want to come down and partake of some of the performance events there…lots of exposure to music and instruments. Information will eventually be posted in detail at http://www.organsociety.org

Good luck.



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