Lesson 1

This week has been a bit easier in terms of the content of Sunday’s service. As it isn’t a communion service, there are just the 3 hymns, an introit, a blessing and an anthem by the choir. Still a fair amount of music for me to learn in 6 days but not nearly as much as last week. Plus, one of the hymns uses the tune of “Morning Has Broken” which I know pretty well; though the version in the hymn book messes with the chord structure I’m familiar with. If I get lost, I suspect I’ll revert to the one I know.

Having a bit of time this week allowed me to have a lesson with my friend Scott Auchinleck, musical director of Glen Cairn United Church and also the Kanata Choral Society. Scott learned the organ while doing a music degree at Bishops University and has used this experience at many different churches and situations. We got together on Wednesday of this week and Scott was generous enough to not only show me the basics of the organ, but also brought several books of both instruction and content. I look forward to plowing through these books.

So here’s a nutshell overview of what I learned. The organ I have is a Rogers Hybrid organ which means it has pipes but that many of the sounds are created electronically and then fed through the pipes rather than created by a series of reeds or flutes. There is a MIDI port underneath the console so I believe more sounds could be added or perhaps the existing sounds could be edited. There are 3 keyboards and a series of bass pedals underneath. Each of these manuals has its own series of sounds or stops which can be easily switched on or off with large knobs. The sounds have different timbres and octaves, allowing for a vast number of different sounds to be created.

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So basically what Scott suggested is for a given hymn, one presets all of the manuals with different sounds before the hymn begins. Then for each verse you can play on a different manual to give a different flavour each time. There are also variable pedals which can be used to grow the sound on each manual, again allowing the organist to increase the energy of the sound towards the end of the piece.

i think the initial difficulty for me will be to avoid going to the max each hymn. When you put on all of the stops, kick the one pedal to max which adds all of the octaves and overtones then just play a big, full major chord it’s a really massive sound. Makes me feel powerful. Maybe not the sound needed for “Morning Has Broken”. Morning might break if I use that sound every time.

Though we had a great session together, I haven’t had the opportunity to practice on the instrument since then. So I think for today I’m going to stick with the piano for the entire service. Especially since this will be my first time playing in a big gown. They have to find an extra long one for me, though I suggested a short one would be fine, I’d prefer short sleeves and I’ll be sitting…

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