Landmark Organ Sound, Performance, and Luxury
by O’Lyn Callahan
Having been a teacher since I was 16, there have been many opportunities to work with organ students of all levels in preparing for performance. I have always encouraged my students to take advantage of every opportunity to perform in front of people, whether it is just friends coming over to your home for a casual evening, or a more formal setting like a recital in a music store. There is absolutely no doubt that public performance, with the practice that precedes it, is one of the greatest ways to improve your musical skills. Let’s face it, if you know you have a performance coming up, you definitely practice with much more intensity than you would when playing just for your own fun and amusement. There is far more attention given to the little details such as accuracy, dynamics, and timing. That is why the Organ Fest is such a remarkable opportunity for improving your overall abilities. I know that public performance is not easy for any of us, but it definitely will bring you to new levels of accomplishment. Put aside the fear, and focus on the benefits to be gained. We all need new challenges in our lives that keep us mentally sharp, and what better way can this be done than to share your music with friends?
For those of you playing in the Atelier Organ Fest, I would like to share a couple of useful tips. As I have watched many performers in a variety of situations, most of them react the same way. Once they have completed the performance, they completely ignore the applause from the audience, gather up their music, and make a speedy exit off the stage. Let me suggest that you get up from the bench and acknowledge the audience with a slight bow. After you have graciously done this, collect your music and walk proudly off the stage. You may want to practice this at home before the day of the event.
One other suggestion that comes to mind is to encourage students to use the right foot-switch on their expression pedal to change presets rather than selecting each preset by hand. I have seen so many students lose their place in the music by looking down to see the preset number. You can practice changing presets with your right foot by using an exaggerated knee motion (from left to right) rather than trying to turn the foot to the right at the ankle, which makes the expression pedal volume dive. Sit at the organ and practice just kicking the presets over and over until it becomes automatic, using that exaggerated knee motion, and see how much easier it is to control your preset changes without looking down.
Have a wonderful time expressing your creative abilities through your arrangements and orchestrations, and take advantage of the Roland Atelier Organ Fest to reach new heights on your musical journey.