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#1706693 - 07/03/11 02:36 PM Is it hard to go from piano to organ?
Jame334 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 142
I have learned piano for a number of years and I have always loved organ music, so I thought that maybe I should get in contact with our local church to let me practice on their organ. I have never played an organ and we don't have any teachers here either.

Is it possible to learn the organ on myself, even though I have no experience with it?
The main thing that worries me is the levers.

If this is an accessible goal, then how would I be of contacting our local church of this?

EDIT: I am continuously learning the piano.


Edited by Jame334 (07/03/11 02:37 PM)

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#1764913 - 10/05/11 12:37 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Jame334]
RayE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/10
Posts: 163
Loc: Rochester, NY, USA
Churches will be reluctant to allow non-members use of their organ to learn on. It would be easier to approach a church that you belong to and have some history with. It isn't easy to learn organ without an instructor but it isn't impossible either, there are many Organ method books available to help you, and also Allen has some videos available to help people go from piano to organ that are very good.
_________________________
Retired Army reserve Bandsman who now plays for the Joy of Music!!

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#1765738 - 10/06/11 10:21 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Jame334]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
grab a copy of Dickerson's the technique and art of organ playing and read it - 3.99 on ebay

it is full of great info.. all you'll need to know. plan on studying organ at school or with a teacher.. volunteer to play for services when you are ready.

I am an organist and LOVE it.. it is so much fun. You really have to concentrate on the feet when you first start.. it's difficult to pick up facility. Some electrics have bass couplers which copy the bottom notes of the left hand and 'play' them on the pedal stops you have selected.. pretty good sound.

No it is not hard to go from piano to organ but it takes study and practice time.. I adore it and make great money playing services. It's definitely a great way to supplement your income and there is a need for organists.. not many people do it any more.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1765742 - 10/06/11 10:23 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Jame334]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
I bought an old church organ.. electric with a full pedal board - delivered .. for 600 bucks. (i do have connections, but there are some out there)., It really is difficult finding a place to practice.. churches are busy and unnecessarily protective of their instruments.. they shouldn't be.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1768187 - 10/10/11 05:41 PM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: apple*]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3250
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: apple*
churches are busy and unnecessarily protective of their instruments.. they shouldn't be.



On the one hand, keeping the organ so secure means we're not training the next generation when they're young, and organists are hard to find.

On the other hand, many churches including mine are struggling to afford routine upkeep, and would be in deep trouble if some visitor broke the organ (spilled his coffee into the guts, etc.) It's not like you can roll in the spare from the other room.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1915190 - 06/18/12 09:00 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Jame334]
backto_study_piano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 532
Loc: Australia
The biggest difference is in touch - there is no sustain or sostenuto pedal. I find most of the best organists are also pianists. The late Virgil Fox said at a masterclass that it was essential for an organist to practise difficult passages on a piano - not all organists would necessarily agree, but I've always done that. One way of preparing for organ is to try playing the piano without the sustain pedal at all - substituting fingers to enable a good legato.

The pedals are relatively easy - get a tutor, and work through the exercises.
_________________________
Alan from Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert - she's 7'4" long and ebony) & 2 Allen Organs [long story - the first is for sale] - MDS312 and CF-15.

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#1955500 - 09/07/12 04:13 PM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: RayE]
WiFlag Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 17
Originally Posted By: RayE
Allen has some videos available to help people go from piano to organ that are very good.


I am in a similar boat as the original poster - can someone expound on this comment?

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#1958208 - 09/13/12 09:34 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: WiFlag]
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2789
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Originally Posted By: WiFlag
Originally Posted By: RayE
Allen has some videos available to help people go from piano to organ that are very good.


I am in a similar boat as the original poster - can someone expound on this comment?

Google Allen Organ Company, oh heck;

http://allenorgan.com/www/video/index.html


Edited by Steve Chandler (09/13/12 09:36 AM)
Edit Reason: delete snarky comment

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#1958931 - 09/14/12 04:03 PM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Steve Chandler]
WiFlag Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 17
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler

Google Allen Organ


Yeah that's the first thing I did, and I found the page you linked - but those videos appear to be demos on the use of organs, not instructions on how a pianist can become an organist. Am I missing something, or just misunderstanding your original post?

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#1983663 - 11/07/12 04:38 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Jame334]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 453
Loc: Europe
If you have a digital piano at home, you could connect via MIDI a pedal board to it. But the pedal board should not be much bigger than 1 octave, because it should have to be placed alongside the 3 piano pedals which are often fixed mounted to the cabinet of a digital piano.

You additionally could (but not necessarily) connect a software with sampled organ sounds running on a PC-Notebook to the digital piano, because internal organ sounds might not be of good quality on the digital piano.

So far the theory.
Now, would anybody have a recommendation for such Pedal-Board and for such Organ-Sound-Software?
_________________________
learning Piano on my Roland HP-505
before playing Drums in adults bluesband on handpicked set; before crashing E-Guitar in kids garage band; raised on home entertainment Organ and Keyboard models Eminent Solina P240, Farfisa Maharani 259R, Technics KN800, and on Mouth Organ, Recorder and Accordion

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#1983702 - 11/07/12 08:37 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Marco M]
Vectistim Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 317
Loc: Reading, UK
Originally Posted By: Marco M

So far the theory.
Now, would anybody have a recommendation for such Pedal-Board and for such Organ-Sound-Software?


http://www.hauptwerk.com/

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#1983886 - 11/07/12 07:12 PM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: WiFlag]
RayE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/10
Posts: 163
Loc: Rochester, NY, USA
http://www.allenorgan.com/www/store/video/aoc-031-00092.html

These are the videos I was referring to they are actually organ instruction videos that Allen has for sale, if you go to thier website, and go to the Link to the Allen store you will find them there.
_________________________
Retired Army reserve Bandsman who now plays for the Joy of Music!!

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#1983988 - 11/08/12 03:14 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Vectistim]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 453
Loc: Europe
@Vectistim: Thanks!!
Uffff, I found that good pedals seem to cost at least 700 EUR.
_________________________
learning Piano on my Roland HP-505
before playing Drums in adults bluesband on handpicked set; before crashing E-Guitar in kids garage band; raised on home entertainment Organ and Keyboard models Eminent Solina P240, Farfisa Maharani 259R, Technics KN800, and on Mouth Organ, Recorder and Accordion

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#1984012 - 11/08/12 05:30 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Jame334]
Vectistim Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 317
Loc: Reading, UK
If you're up for DIY there are kits available where you can get an old pedalboard from some abandoned church organ or dead Hammond or somesuch and MIDIfi it yourself.

Here's the first example I found on youtube of someone building one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we_HH3VqhNM

If you browse through the Hauptwerk forums you'll find lots of useful stuff including people building their own machines. (I have seen a better video, which was probably on there somewhere)

Personally I haven't shoved pedals on mine at home (yet) I just have my digital piano with a cheap MIDI keyboard off ebay above it, with the two plugged into the computer via USB.

I then have a selection of the free organs (and a pretty decent harpsichord) that I will play around with. A friend of mine has a rather more complete setup and has actually purchased Hauptwerk rather than running the free version and has some of the cathedral samples.

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#1986527 - 11/14/12 08:04 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Marco M]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3250
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Marco M

So far the theory.
Now, would anybody have a recommendation for such Pedal-Board and for such Organ-Sound-Software?


I can't help with the pedal board. I'm watching for a used one myself.

As far as software, there are three programs out there that seem to work well. You do need some software to learn registration.

Hauptwerk is the gold standard. (IMO of course) But you need a fast computer. It doesn't run well on my old laptop.

Miditizer is good for emulating Wurlitzers and commercial rather than church organs. It runs pretty well on my slow machine.

Then there's MyOrgan (the name may have changed since I downloaded it.) That worked well also.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2002979 - 12/22/12 07:16 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: TimR]
adultpianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 540
A friend of mine had organ lessons as a child. She had lessons on a home electronic organ not a big church one. She never had piano lessons and when I first got my piano, I automatically assumed she could play it becaue it was a keyboard. She had great difficulty because she said that the keyboard was on one level and she was used to playing an organ keyboard on two levels. she found she could barely read the sheet music for piano as she said organ muic is different.

I thought all organists could play piano too? I also thought if you are a trained music reader, you could adapt from organ to piano music and read then note and play the right ones on the ksyboard. Yes she knows what flats and sharps are and how to recognise them on very simple piano scores but she cannot play a piano with both hands, but get her on an organ and she plays like she has been playing for 20 years....

Is this a usual approach for organists who are non pianists.

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#2008353 - 01/03/13 05:05 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: adultpianist]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 453
Loc: Europe
adultpianist,
I can confirm you that coming from electric organ to piano does not work right away. To my experience it is because of the total lack of experience to play with the dynamic response of the piano keys, and their heavier weight which you might not be prepared for. Additionally, electric organ music usually supports the melody played in the right hand only by giving a rhythmic pattern made up from bass (foot) and inverted chords (left hand). But the inverted chords played left hand first time on the piano sound empty due to the missing bass note (no foot). Furthermore, the chord inversion you are used to play on the two manuals organ may overlap with the keys of the melody, and thus you have to vary this on the piano. But just shifting the octave is not a solution, because it just does not sound as expected in the other octave (and still the bass note is missing, so you invert the chord to its basic 1-3-5 pattern, but it still does not sound good, but boring and missplaced). Finally, the left hand (and also your eyes on the sheet!!) are trained on interval patterns, but not much on individual (appregio) notes, or even notes off from the chord.

So, first piano playing experience can be very frustrating for entertainment e-organ players. I after half a year daily on the piano still have to intensively focus on (fight with) my left hand playing, while the right hand without problems is completely autonomous and "only" deserves concentration on the 'new' dynamics.

I would say it the otherway round: any pianist should quickly get good results on the electric organ while e-organ players can not easily get good results on the piano. For classically trained (church) organ players this is different, though. They have it much easier to adapt to piano, than e-organ players.
_________________________
learning Piano on my Roland HP-505
before playing Drums in adults bluesband on handpicked set; before crashing E-Guitar in kids garage band; raised on home entertainment Organ and Keyboard models Eminent Solina P240, Farfisa Maharani 259R, Technics KN800, and on Mouth Organ, Recorder and Accordion

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#2051819 - 03/21/13 09:27 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Jame334]
JasonRain Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 2
Churches will be reluctant to allow non-members use of their organ to learn on.

_________________
Runescape Gold|wow gold|Buy RS Gold|Buy Runescape Gold

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#2053712 - 03/24/13 09:46 PM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Jame334]
adultpianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 540
Is it true to say that the piano is more popular than the organ? I know lots of people who learn the piano, but not many who learn the organ. Maybe I am not mixing with the right people. Personally I have no interest in learning an organ. Unless you are in a church, what use are organ skills? Pianos can be played anywhere.

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#2066371 - 04/18/13 04:52 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Jame334]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 453
Loc: Europe
@adultpianist: While I lost completly interest in e-organ playing, I love my new piano. And to also play the majestic, powerfull vibrating cathedral sound of an church organ on a decent digital piano (or even much better on a MIDI connected software!) is quite something worth to experience!
_________________________
learning Piano on my Roland HP-505
before playing Drums in adults bluesband on handpicked set; before crashing E-Guitar in kids garage band; raised on home entertainment Organ and Keyboard models Eminent Solina P240, Farfisa Maharani 259R, Technics KN800, and on Mouth Organ, Recorder and Accordion

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#2071342 - 04/26/13 09:29 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Jame334]
Chopinlover49 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/11
Posts: 641
If you can play the piano well, I do not think it would take long to feel comfortable with an organ, but the pedals will take some real work. You can actually play fairly decent music and fake your way through some of the pedal work for a while, but they are essential to really playing the organ. Go for it. The organ is a blast.

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#2079770 - 05/09/13 10:06 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Chopinlover49]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3250
Loc: Virginia, USA
Just remember to play the bass with your foot, tenor with your left hand, soprano and alto lines with your right hand.

Oh, and generally do the pedal more legato than the rest.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2080349 - 05/10/13 01:39 PM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: JasonRain]
ventil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/11
Posts: 149
Loc: TX
Originally Posted By: JasonRain
Churches will be reluctant to allow non-members use of their organ to learn on.


Some general observations from someone who has a degree in organ and has been playing for many years.

I love the organ and its literature and always enjoy sharing the instrument with others. But getting access for non-staff or, especially, a non-member can be a logistical challenge. Keys, building access, and personal safety (for you as well as others) are just a few of the considerations.

The best thing would be to befriend the organist and show your seriousness, trustworthiness, and respect for the instrument and institution. Better yet, take lessons from him/her. Often, you will be allowed to practice on the instrument where you take lessons. And the lessons will speed the development of your organ-specific technique.

If you do gain access, here are a few points of etiquette to bear in mind:

1. Consideration for others: If there is church staff present when you come in, let them know you are there, why you are there, and how long you'll be there. There may be something on the church's schedule you don't know about. If you play loudly (that's part of the fun, isn't it?), just remember they can hear you down the hall. If you are prone to shouting expletives when you mess up, try to refrain from that. There is no such thing as "private" organ practice at a church. wink

2. Bench: Never stand on the pedals when getting on or off the bench or adjusting it. To get on, sit on the end of the bench, then, using your hands, rotate forward and slide to the center while keeping your feet off the pedals. If you adjust the bench, do so while standing on the floor. Make a mental note of the position (height & distance from the keyboards) before you move it, then put it back when you leave.

3. Shoes: Many (most?) organists, including myself, use dedicated shoes for playing. You don't need to do that, to start, but don't use your street shoes, especially if they have black rubber soles. Until you start seriously working on pedal technique, house slippers (without rubber soles) or even sock feet are OK.

4. Don't change the pistons (preset combinations). Nothing will get you banned from the instrument faster.

5. Organists become accustomed to practicing in less than comfortable conditions. Usually at off times, heating is run lower than normal and air conditioning (if there is any) is set higher. This is for economy. It also makes the organ more out of tune. You just have to deal with it.

I hope all this isn't too off-putting, but these are things that conscientious organists do all the time at their own instruments and when visiting elsewhere. Observing these things will help you continue to be welcome at the organ.

Learning the organ can be a lot of fun, and can open a whole new world of music.

Best wishes on your new musical adventure.


Edited by ventil (05/10/13 01:51 PM)
Edit Reason: Expanded item #1
_________________________
David M. Boothe, CAS

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#2081976 - 05/13/13 03:51 PM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: ventil]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3250
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: ventil

4. Don't change the pistons (preset combinations). Nothing will get you banned from the instrument faster.


We ran into one thing worse at my church.

We had a woman who used hand lotion and left the keys greasy. I cannot myself imagine being that discourteous, but she was oblivious.

And yes, it did get her banned.

(we interviewed a candidate for an organist position recently. She remarked, "wow, your regular organist must have really long arms, the bench is way back." When she finished playing for us, she put the bench back and called our attention to it. "see, I put it back where I found it."

The next time our organist played, he told me, "somebody must have played the organ, the bench is closer." hee, hee)
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#2098731 - 06/08/13 06:43 PM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Jame334]
RickG1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/10
Posts: 306
Loc: TX
I love playing the organ and started on the Hammond in 7th grade after many years on the piano. A year later, I took classical organ lessons for church playing. While there are methods available now for starting on the organ ( Wayne Leupold Pub.), I have always felt that you are no better organist than you are a pianist. I am fortunate in that I have 3 good pianos at home which I do a lot of "woodshedding". But I also have access to my church organ ( 3 manual, 52 rank mechanical action) and the theater organ ( 3 manual 25 rank, Wurlitzer) in a restored movie theater. I have to say that once I played a pipe organ, the piano did not do it for me anymore. However, the piano is a great rehearsal instrument for me and my technique depends on practice on it.
_________________________
Mason-Hamlin "A"
Steinway "B"
Baldwin console

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#2154793 - 09/20/13 10:59 PM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Jame334]
Jonathan Baker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 475
Loc: New York City!
The best way to get access to an organ is to get a church job within reasonable traveling distance. Trying to beg for practice time from local churches is seldom successful for various reasons. Churches frequently hire pianists with little experience at organ playing provided they can galvanize a choir. But I am not encouraging you to do that - it is merely an option to consider.

Most pianists are immediately disoriented by the lack of touch-response on any organ - the sound is effectively ready-made at a set dynamic level, although pipes enclosed in a chamber can be controlled for volume. Most pianists need to rethink their understanding of legato when they get to an organ where the release of a key is as critical as when it is depressed. There is an actual cut-off sound that is distinct and must be factored into the release of any key.

Then there is the pedal board, and that will take time - at first you will feel as clumsy on it as a complete beginner does at the piano.

The lack of access to organs is their biggest disadvantage as an art form. The second disadvantage is they are primarily located in churches where attitudes are not always as generous as one might wish. And the third disadvantage is that pipe organs are wildly expensive to build and nothing but trouble to maintain. But having said that, it is a glorious art form.
_________________________
Jonathan Baker
http://www.BakerPianoLessons.com/index.htm

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#2260571 - 04/12/14 05:39 AM Re: Is it hard to go from piano to organ? [Re: Jame334]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 639
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Here's the skinny on organs right now:

Like old upright pianos, they're being given away because no one wants them. Our local paper is chock-full of old pianos and organs no one wants.

I have two big church organs which would have ended up in the landfill if I didn't rescue them. They are old electronic models whose days are unfortunately numbered.

I intend to gut both of them and replace the innards with Artisan hardware and Hauptwerk software. This will lighten an old Hammond (for example) a great deal (as heavy as a piano), and give you access to the sounds of the world's best organs.

There are two big pipe organs I COULD have, if I had someplace to put them.

I live in rural Saskatchewan, Canada, so there's no point posting our local free organs, but trust me: they're everywhere.

So there's no excuse not to avail yourself of a free quality organ. All you need is a ramp, a dolly, and two or three helpers.

The pedals are removable, by the way- just lift & pull and out they come. Don't try moving an organ without first removing the pedals.

If you can find yourself a good big church-type organ with at least a 2-octave pedal board, take it, even if it has some problems. You can gut it, swap out the electronics for brand-new Artisan digital/midi stuff, run it through a computer (use it as a controller), and you're set.

As far as switching from piano to organ goes, I've long understood that prospective organ students were expected to reach a fairly proficient level on piano before switching to organ. It's pretty much the same with tackling multiple keyboards/synths. You should get your basic technique down on a real piano, first, so that you have a few hooks on which to hang your hat, as it were.

A number of top organists tend to complain that pedal work is poorly taught for the most part. You should be able to simply look up the "fingerings" for all scales and arpeggios, as you do with keyboard playing, so that you can learn and practise them, but if such a resource, with straightforward information, exists, tell ME, because I'M still looking. What I've learned I had to cobble together from talking to and watching numerous organists. Whenever I ask for specific information, I'm invariably faced with "oh, I just blah, blah, blah" non-answers of the sort you get from cooks who don't use recipes.

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