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#2106300 - 06/22/13 03:27 PM organist reading piano music
adultpianist Offline
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Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 540
Since nobody answered my question on the reading music thread I am starting a new one.

If someone does not know how to properly read piano music can they say that they can read music simply because they have taken organ lessons and was able to read music for organ

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#2106318 - 06/22/13 03:56 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: adultpianist]
Whizbang Offline
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Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 759
I've never read organ music, but piano music simply has to be easier to read. I can't imagine having to play notes with my feet as well as my hands.
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#2106328 - 06/22/13 04:19 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: adultpianist]
dynamobt Offline
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Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 674
Loc: NH
Reading music is reading music. Provided you learned the F clef and not simply chords to play the organ, you can read piano music.

My sister majored in Organ Performance years ago. She has been a church organist all these years. I try and get her to tackle some good piano music. She says tha one of the big differences between piano and organ music is that there are often a lot of accidentals in piano music. And you don't see them much in organ music. I will add the caveat that maybe no accidentals in the organ music she chooses to play for church. Because surely there are accidentals in organ music.

But for the treble and F cleff, music is music. Sure the pedal adds another component. But, it's possible to play the pedal with only one foot. That's what I did when I played the organ at a church during he time I was in high school. I never managed the two foot pedal technique. My sister never has to look at her feet. That amazes me more than my playin accidentals in piano music!!!
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#2106333 - 06/22/13 04:27 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: adultpianist]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
adultpianist's aforementioned post:
Originally Posted By: adultpianist
Chatting to a friend recently who can play an electronic organ, she said she likes going to listen to pianists because she played the organ and can read music. I beg to differ because when she had a go at my piano with my sheet music, she did not know what she was doing an said the music was too difficult for her although she could recognise a sharp and a flat on the score. She put it down to the fact that organ music is different and that is all she knows how to play properly.

So... when she says she can read music, she cannot. She asked me about the simple piece of piano music that I showed her and pointed at a rest and said, what is that so I replied that is a rest and she said what is that so I explained to her that it means you do not play anything there but give your hands a rest. If she could read music as she claims, she should know what a rest is.

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#2106337 - 06/22/13 04:37 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: adultpianist]
dynamobt Offline
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Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 674
Loc: NH
Don't know what to say. This person does not read music. I can assure you that to play the organ with anything other than chords in the left hand (fake book stuff) that you need to read music. Not knowing a "rest"?? That's pretty basic.

editing to add that even with a Fake Book you need to read the treble cleff. So maybe like Keystring said,she knows patterns. But she sure doesn't know how to read music.


Edited by dynamobt (06/22/13 04:56 PM)
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#2106343 - 06/22/13 04:45 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: adultpianist]
keystring Online   content
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The above quote suggests that the organist isn't really reading organ music either, but thinks she is. I'll qualify that. You can be working within a narrow genre of music that goes along certain patterns which makes it predictable. Think of knock-knock jokes. Then you're looking at the notes but you sort of know how it will go; or it may actually be music you have heard many times before. Then your playing comes from that place which is part prediction, part ear with the notation being just a reminder. But you think you are reading music. After all, it's in front of you and you're playing.

Something not quite that extreme happened to me. When I was young I had a piano but the only music I had were sonatinas, mostly Clementi. These have a rather predictable pattern. Decades later I got a piano and was shocked that I "couldn't read" (fluently). I had to decipher note for note, yet I remembered zipping along sonatinas. I still could do that, in fact, even new ones. That's how I found out about it.

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#2106353 - 06/22/13 05:08 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
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Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring

Something not quite that extreme happened to me. When I was young I had a piano but the only music I had were sonatinas, mostly Clementi. These have a rather predictable pattern. Decades later I got a piano and was shocked that I "couldn't read" (fluently). I had to decipher note for note, yet I remembered zipping along sonatinas. I still could do that, in fact, even new ones. That's how I found out about it.


Yes. It is my belief that much of sightreading is exactly what you're describing - the recall of learned patterns. That's why it tends to be specific to the genre we spend the most time on.

But it also means that sightreading lots of new material might be counterproductive. If you don't spend enough time on each piece to get those patterns into memory so they can be retrieved, you are left with only the hardest kind of pure sightreading.
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#2106379 - 06/22/13 06:11 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: adultpianist]
keystring Online   content
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TimR, we have a different picture of sight reading. I have worked several years on this now, and I like what is happening. What I do now is very different from what I did. I also suspect that some of it is instrument-specific. Especially as a brass player, which I seem to remember that you are (?) it's a different experience. I am receiving instruction, and it is working for me.

In reading piano music, you want to have a direct connection between the written note in the score, and the corresponding key on the piano. When you are thirsty you reach for the glass of water in front of you; it should be that direct. The words "Drink glass of water." attaches itself to that entire combined experience. You don't think those words in order to get at the act of reaching for the glass and drinking it. But one way we try to read is doing exactly that.

To get at this skill of reading, you have to proceed in a deliberate way. You don't just pick up new material every day, try to read at tempo, and hope it gels over time. Ok, that works somewhat, but it's more like a specialized skill. You do want to be able to pick up a random piece of music, someone can point to a measure you have never seen before, and you can play that measure. This is not through memory. It could be nonsense notes. If you see A D# Bb E in that order, you should be able to reach for those notes, just like if you see a picture of a nose, you can touch your nose. That's the kind of reading skill that I'm after.

Originally Posted By: TimR
Yes. It is my belief that much of sightreading is exactly what you're describing - the recall of learned patterns. That's why it tends to be specific to the genre we spend the most time on.

When I was doing that, it was not reading. It is certainly useful to be aware of patterns, to be able to anticipate. I don't want to lose that. But it's something extra which helps with reading. That's how I see it at this point in time.


Edited by keystring (06/22/13 06:13 PM)

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#2106492 - 06/22/13 10:57 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3200
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring

Originally Posted By: TimR
Yes. It is my belief that much of sightreading is exactly what you're describing - the recall of learned patterns. That's why it tends to be specific to the genre we spend the most time on.

When I was doing that, it was not reading. It is certainly useful to be aware of patterns, to be able to anticipate. I don't want to lose that. But it's something extra which helps with reading. That's how I see it at this point in time.


Well, it's not reading in the purest sense, no.

I just think that the purest sense of reading is a smaller percentage of total reading than is normally appreciated.

What you did worked very well, for one genre. And over time as you added genres, it should work more and more of the time, and you could always avoid those you didn't have in the bucket. <g>

In brass playing the pitches are obvious. But I play trombone, and they don't write quite as many notes as for violin or flute, e.g.! What I've found is that in styles of music I know well (typical wind ensemble, either American or German) sight reading is effortless. When I've played in the pit for a musical where the rhythms are vastly different, and much faster, I have to spend much more time preparing. That's largely because I don't have the memory band built up.
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#2106503 - 06/22/13 11:32 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: adultpianist]
carolyn227 Offline
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Registered: 03/17/07
Posts: 107
I have a friend with a degree in organ performance... pretty sure she reads the same kind of music as anyone else who reads music.

The only challenge is switching clefs. As a pianist I luckily know how to read from two of them, but I'd certainly have a lot of trouble picking up a viola score and plunking out the melody on the piano.

Anyway, reading music doesn't always come easily to everyone, and it takes a lot of practice to be a good sight reader.
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#2106645 - 06/23/13 10:09 AM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: adultpianist]
FarmGirl Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 1990
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
I take organ lessons from my church music director. She has a doctorate in organ performance. I can tell you that organists MUST sight read. Your eyes have to be fixated on the score all the time. Partly because organ music has lots of ties and also because it has 3 lines, 2 lines for both hands and additional base clef for foot pedal. The music she has been playing in our church (Episcopal) for preludes and postludes are mostly baroque period music except for the standard hymns. It's Bach or earlier. Prelude, Fugue, Toccata, that kind of music. The music is beyond my current sight reading capability. I'm sick and resting in bed now but I will get you names of the organ pieces she play later. It's in all the keys, of course. My teacher helped me to learn to play by the feel of the keys both for manuals (key board for hands) and the pedal board. It's incredibly helpful for sightreading on the piano. You kind of learn to slide fingers and feet to get the feel. Also pattern recognition and application of appropriate fingering, being careful here since different articulation technique applies. The organist I met are all excellent pianists.
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#2106653 - 06/23/13 10:26 AM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: adultpianist]
FarmGirl Offline

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Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 1990
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
A couple more observations. There are many different kind of organs. What I was talking about is a pipe organ with full pedal board.

Sight reading. It's a struggle for everyone. Either purely reading at first sight or learn to read (the music you practiced but not memorized) under pressure. Both are not easy and require dedicated practice. But I believe it will come in time. When I restarted the piano, I could not do it at all but now I can do a bit easier classical pieces than my current level. I've been playing the piano more than 10 years (including childhood), so it's not an accomplishment. I only started paying attention to it last 4 years.
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#2106689 - 06/23/13 11:33 AM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: adultpianist]
FarmGirl Offline

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Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 1990
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
This is actually very good thread for sight reading that applies to piano as well -?from organ forum (pipe organ area).

http://www.organforum.com/forums/showthread.php?25522-Rules-for-Sight-Reading
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#2106779 - 06/23/13 02:10 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: TimR

Well, it's not reading in the purest sense, no.

I just think that the purest sense of reading is a smaller percentage of total reading than is normally appreciated.

What you did worked very well, for one genre. And over time as you added genres, it should work more and more of the time, and you could always avoid those you didn't have in the bucket. <g>

In brass playing the pitches are obvious. But I play trombone, and they don't write quite as many notes as for violin or flute, e.g.! What I've found is that in styles of music I know well (typical wind ensemble, either American or German) sight reading is effortless. When I've played in the pit for a musical where the rhythms are vastly different, and much faster, I have to spend much more time preparing. That's largely because I don't have the memory band built up.

This goes beyond the scope of the thread but I always enjoy thrashing out ideas with you, TimR. smile

Reading yours, I'm thinking there are two types or levels of reading. There is a fundamental type, and that's what I was thinking of. Piano's nature is that there is one single spot and key where you will find a particular pitch (note). Piano reading consists fundamentally of getting an association going between notation and that key. If you see the note under the line of the treble clef your hand automatically zooms to the key that is between two black notes, and this combined experience is "D". I learned that this is a skill to form. This is totally independent of any genre of music. The note will always look that way in the score, and it will always correspond to that piano key and location.

Then there is another kind of reading that you are talking about. When playing music of a given genre, there are patterns that are predictable. We can anticipate where the music goes, and we get used to moving along certain patterns on the keyboard. This is another kind of skill.

I'll suggest that this second skill can prevent you from acquiring the first skill, because you will never get close enough to the primary thing: the note on the page and the key on the piano. A small child will - as adults we need to get this part. Since I already had "patterns" which let me "predict" or anticipate, I had to let go of that ability (your side of reading) in order to access the more primary thing.

Ok, this sounds really complicated in words. But in the actual doing, it was "simple".

.... Other instruments will have other characteristics. You mentioned brass, where you must have the sound in your head in order to produce it. And then I know there are slide positions on trombone etc. I don't play brass. In any case, you'd have a different relationship between notes, notation, and the instrument.

I studied violin, but at a time when I didn't really have notes: I had solfege sound so I went for the sound of melody along scales sort of. Violin also has a distinct location for a pitch. C5 is "low 2" on the A string. But you also find that same pitch further up on the D string. So you have a different environment, but more similar to piano than brass. How will this affect the process of reading?

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#2106805 - 06/23/13 02:40 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: adultpianist]
Saranoya Offline
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Loc: Brussels, Belgium
Originally Posted By: keystring
I'll suggest that this second skill can prevent you from acquiring the first skill, because you will never get close enough to the primary thing: the note on the page and the key on the piano. A small child will - as adults we need to get this part. Since I already had "patterns" which let me "predict" or anticipate, I had to let go of that ability (your side of reading) in order to access the more primary thing.


I think this expresses pretty well one of the main reasons that I am such a terrible sight reader. I read patterns, not notes. Most of the time, I don't even know what notes I'm actually playing. I know the way they're supposed to sound (possibly because I did play brass for six years when I was younger, and there I did have to have the ability to 'imagine' a sound before I played it), but I know their names only about half of the time, and I intuitively know their locations on the keyboard only after I've already practiced a piece a few times.

I also don't have perfect pitch (and by 'perfect pitch', here, I mean the ability to instantly connect a given sound to its note name, not the ability to tell without reference whether any given sound is sharp, flat, or exactly on-target). Which means that if you have me start a given piece in the 'wrong' hand position on the keyboard, I will reconstruct it accurately (while stumbling in the places where white keys become black keys and vice versa) without necessarily even knowing that I was playing in the wrong key. That doesn't help in connecting the visuals of a given score to the audio of a given rendition, either.

Can you tell me what you did to get from 'pattern reading' to actual reading, as in fluently connecting a note on the page to a key on the keyboard?
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#2106932 - 06/23/13 08:05 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: keystring]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
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Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keystring

Reading yours, I'm thinking there are two types or levels of reading. There is a fundamental type, and that's what I was thinking of. Piano's nature is that there is one single spot and key where you will find a particular pitch (note). Piano reading consists fundamentally of getting an association going between notation and that key. If you see the note under the line of the treble clef your hand automatically zooms to the key that is between two black notes, and this combined experience is "D". I learned that this is a skill to form. This is totally independent of any genre of music. The note will always look that way in the score, and it will always correspond to that piano key and location.

Then there is another kind of reading that you are talking about. When playing music of a given genre, there are patterns that are predictable. We can anticipate where the music goes, and we get used to moving along certain patterns on the keyboard. This is another kind of skill.



I think you have very accurately summed up my current thinking on this. I say current, because it's only evolved recently, and is subject to change.

Where we might differ a bit is in the proportion of effort to put to prima facie sight reading vs pattern recall. It is not clear to me that the pattern reading hinders the prima facie, though I concede it is certainly possible. I suspect rather that it's simply a time constraint. We must prepare pieces, and that improves pattern recall, but doesn't practice the pure sight reading.

I think though that there's an additional complicating factor with piano.

With the other instruments I work on there are fundamentals and there are specific difficulties, just as in piano. But the difficulties are rare and only impede sightreading on occasion. Most sightreading on brass requires only the recognition, and the mechanics will take care of themselves, provided one has the skill.

But with piano, I think the difficulties impede BOTH playing and sightreading. Much of piano learning seems to be less dependent on applying fundamentals and more dependent on working out specific difficulties for that piece. It's the reason it takes so long, and the reason you have to study so many pieces, and the reason the next piece at the same level is hard all over again.

When we sightread a new piece we may have the skill to do the pure reading, and be able to recognize and hear what it sounds like, but not be able to play it because that piece has difficulties to be worked out. Those difficulties can be drawn from the pattern recall box, if it's full enough. But it usually isn't.
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#2106942 - 06/23/13 08:18 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: TimR]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: TimR

I think you have very accurately summed up my current thinking on this. I say current, because it's only evolved recently, and is subject to change.

Cool. smile And mine is evolving too.

Originally Posted By: TimR

Where we might differ a bit is in the proportion of effort to put to prima facie sight reading vs pattern recall. It is not clear to me that the pattern reading hinders the prima facie, though I concede it is certainly possible. I suspect rather that it's simply a time constraint. We must prepare pieces, and that improves pattern recall, but doesn't practice the pure sight reading.

This goes straight into a set of values or maybe goals that I adopted in regards to lessons after my first experience in lessons which was on strings. I couldn't quite define it until I saw the write-up by senior piano teacher Martha Beth Lewis, when she talks about "product" vs. "process". I realized that what I want is a "process" orientation.

If my purpose is to develop each piece to the best of my ability, then I am product-oriented. Then I have to work the piece to completion, and draw out whatever skills I need to get this done. However, if I am geared toward "process", then I want the skills, and any piece is simply a means toward that skill - like a field for practising catching balls for baseball players (or the act of). I can work on all of a piece, part of a piece, focus on this or that skill, leave out what would hamper my getting that skill at this time, etc. "Must" we prepare pieces? Or just partially.

But there is something else in regards to this pattern recall. I am learning to work on pieces out of order, in small sections, and even to be able to play a measure backward if I feel like it. This breaks up the "pattern" bit and brings in the reading - notes - keyboard etc. I've submitted two recordings last month which should prove that it doesn't hurt musicality to work mechanically that way.

Originally Posted By: TimR

But with piano, I think the difficulties impede BOTH playing and sightreading. Much of piano learning seems to be less dependent on applying fundamentals and more dependent on working out specific difficulties for that piece.

I don't know what you mean by "fundamentals" and "applying fundamentals"? Can you explain?

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#2107036 - 06/24/13 02:38 AM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: Saranoya]
Bobpickle Offline

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Registered: 05/24/12
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Originally Posted By: Saranoya
I think this expresses pretty well one of the main reasons that I am such a terrible sight reader. I read patterns, not notes.


This is a good thing! When sight-reading music, you want to read and "take in" the music in chunks, or patterns. There's no time to read every single note! The only way to sight-read efficiently is to do so intervallically, looking at notes simply for the distance they are apart from the last, not the note names.

Mind you, this is advice for practicing sight-reading and sight-reading alone, though, as you do want to read and memorize the actual notes in learning repertoire (in the context of the harmony, anyways; memorizing all of the notes individually would of course be unnecessary if instead of memorizing, say, 4 notes, you could just memorize one chord smile ).


Originally Posted By: Saranoya
Can you tell me what you did to get from 'pattern reading' to actual reading, as in fluently connecting a note on the page to a key on the keyboard?


With your ability to read intervallically and digest patterns, you should have no trouble sight-reading simple music at the piano (though this will likely be very, very simple at first as we all have to start from the ground up). You just need to pick music that's really easy and select a slow tempo (think of what tempo would be most appropriate for the hardest part, and pick that), possibly turn a metronome on to the set tempo so you know you can't stop while playing, and go at it.

I also just made this post on the topic as well as listed some nice resources if you'd like to see: http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...tml#Post2107014

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#2107100 - 06/24/13 07:58 AM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: dynamobt]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3200
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: dynamobt
Don't know what to say. This person does not read music. I can assure you that to play the organ with anything other than chords in the left hand (fake book stuff) that you need to read music.


Just for completeness, I need to mention that there is quite a bit of music labeled organ that is set up like fake books.

I have several collections I bought at book sales that are this way. They have melody, chord symbols, and some suggested left hand patterns. You could easily play this style and sound good, it's not like playing piano though.
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#2107264 - 06/24/13 03:00 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: dynamobt]
bmbutler Offline
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Registered: 12/15/10
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Loc: North Carolina
"She says that one of the big differences between piano and organ music is that there are often a lot of accidentals in piano music" - huh?

Music is music depending on what key a piece is written in. Doesn't matter if it is organ or piano. Sorry, just very strange observation especially from an organ performance major. (And yes, I have a Master's degree myself).
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#2107268 - 06/24/13 03:04 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: FarmGirl]
bmbutler Offline
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Registered: 12/15/10
Posts: 226
Loc: North Carolina
Some of these comments regarding organ music are very strange.

"I can tell you that organists MUST sight read." - Not necessarily. Yes, you have three score lines to read, but you learn to do it over time just as you learn to play the organ pedals (real pedals not the short octave ones) over time.

"Partly because organ music has lots of ties" - again, huh? Not sure what you are playing, but piano music can have lots of ties too. This is not exclusive to the organ.
_________________________
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#2107270 - 06/24/13 03:08 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: bmbutler]
TimR Offline
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3200
Loc: Virginia, USA
I think the simplified organ books tend to put everything in C or F.

I'll look at mine tonight and see.
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#2107453 - 06/24/13 09:04 PM Re: organist reading piano music [Re: bmbutler]
FarmGirl Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 1990
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
Originally Posted By: bmbutler
Some of these comments regarding organ music are very strange.

"I can tell you that organists MUST sight read." - Not necessarily. Yes, you have three score lines to read, but you learn to do it over time just as you learn to play the organ pedals (real pedals not the short octave ones) over time.

"Partly because organ music has lots of ties" - again, huh? Not sure what you are playing, but piano music can have lots of ties too. This is not exclusive to the organ.


Hi - BmButler

I'm responding to your post because i think there is confusion between the ability to play while reading vs reading at first sight. It does not seem like I did a good job distinguishing the two. I think it's vital to have the skill to play while reading when playing organ music. How else would you play? Memorized? I think not.

My current difficulty playing organ music is the pedal. Manuals, I don't have so much problem. I'm having fun learning articulation for organ and different fingering that enables it. I told my teacher that I noticed there are lots of seemingly impossible ties (on piano) on a particular French organ piece I was playing. She kindly explained to me that sound do not die out like piano. It may be just the piece but I'm glad she did not tell me "huh". I would have never gone back. You may not be aware of the effect of the word nor intended it but it sounded rude. I would say the entire post did not sound too kind in my opinion. Anyway, I think this subject belong to organ forum better than ABF of the piano forum.
_________________________
Solo - Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, Schubert Sonata D960 Andante sostenute (9/7/14), Bach f minor Fugue WTC Bk1, Rachmaninoff Elegie Op 3 #1, Chopin Trois Nouvelles Etudes #1



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