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Dorothy Young Riess, M.D.: Blog

HOW TO PRACTICE THE ORGAN

Posted on September 9, 2015 with 0 comments

HOW TO PRACTICE THE ORGAN

by Dorothy Young Riess, M.D.

     Here's how it goes. Get to the BIG organ through the traffic and detours. TURN IPHONE OFF! NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO INTERRUPT PRACTICE TIME! Set up music light and fan, extra pencils (always plan to drop at least one into the pedals), music, organ shoes. (Never put water or coffee on the organ.) Sit at the organ, straighten the back and take at least five deep breaths, deleting all aggravations up to that moment.

     DO NOT TURN ORGAN ON! Sense of touch critical here. Finger exercises to strengthen and limber up. Feet exercises for correct position, knees together and workout of anterior tibialis leg muscles. I make up my own exercises but one can use solo passages from classic works as warm ups.

     TURN ORGAN ON. Start with Bach. Even though it may not be on your next program. The discipline of Bach is the foundation for playing other rep IMHO. A Bach fugue or trio sonata movement will exercise the limbs and brain.

     Now you can take a brief break, a few deep breaths and get to work on your lesson, or Sunday service or next recital/recording. Never practice like a robot! Talk to yourself, count out loud, make notes on post its, always thinking, "how can I improve this." Ignore, "must be perfect or else I'm a failure" thinking.

     Take a brief break every hour but never longer than about five minutes because you don't want to interrupt the flow of energy you have created so far. Work intentionally as long as you can and quit when your brain says "enough" or when someone else comes in to claim the organ.

     My limit is about 2.5 hours of intense concentration. "Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away."