We were really pleased to have Dr Joseph Nolan join us for an Organ Playing Masterclass at our showroom in Bicester, Oxfordshire on 21 May 2018.
We sent out a special email to our list of customers, friends and colleagues to extend an invitation to join us for the evening. On the day we welcomed 10 guests, together with our social media team from Harbour 32 – Shelley and Christian Rostlund.
Meet and greet
We had half an hour to get to chat to our guests, and for them to meet and talk to Dr Nolan. What’s a good evening event without some nibbles and sparkly drinks?
We did also give our guests the option to come early to play one of the many Viscount and Regent Classic instruments we have on display in our showroom – including our newest edition – a Chamber Organ.
Here’s Christian Rostlund of Harbour 32 our social media and digital agency, who joined us for the evening, having a tinker on the Chamber Organ. He was keen to see it in real life after putting together the web page for it on the Regent Classic website.
After I welcomed Dr Joseph and introduced the evening – we kicked off with Malcolm Brinson as our first organ player under the microscope! He chose to play Nun Danket by Karg-Elert.
Being aware of old habits and technique
Joseph walked Malcolm through his playing technique and helped him to notice some incremental changes he could make to his playing style – that could make all the difference to his performance.
He gave feedback on Malcolm’s:
- breathing and pauses
- what was going through his mind;
- feet work (including the type of shoes to wear that work best);
- Style and method of practice
While it must have been really tricky to have Joseph watching his every move…and stopping him frequently, Malcolm was a trooper and played really well.
Joseph brought up an important point that we should all probably note – the edition of the piece of music you choose to play is crucial to the quality of the piece.
Then it was my turn at the keyboard
I chose to play the Prelude for the Prelude Fugue & Variations by Cesar Franck, a piece I felt was well within my technical limitations. I know Joseph is a master of his art and was keen to ensure that the technical challenge of the piece was not too great – allowing me to try and make the inevitable changes in phrasing and timing that Joseph would be pointing out was needed.
You can watch the Live session of mine and Malcolm’s playing with Joseph’s tutelage here:
Questions and Answers session
At the end of the class, Joseph kindly answered any questions from the audience, and also treated us to a spot of him playing some of his famous Widor.
One question that was asked – was about how to become a better player, if you are an amateur (with a grade 8 level) and also work full-time? This question was asked by a gentleman who also has a small family and was looking for some tips for optimising his practice time.
Both Joseph and I contributed to this one specifically and we both agreed that, ensuring you mix up what pieces you are practising, but also try and look to play slower…and in short sharp bursts. This is more preferable in order to improve your playing over time.
Obviously this is easier for those of you who have an instrument at home (as this gentlemen did), but trickier if you are depending on an instrument at your local church.
Thank you for the Organ Masterclass
A big thank you to all of our guests for the evening and to Dr Nolan for his time, passion and sharing of his vast experience with us all.
You can have a look at all the pictures and short clips we took through out the evening, on our Facebook Album. If you were there – feel free to tag yourself in the pictures.
Would you like to come to a similar type event if we held it again in the future? Let me know!
I have had a passion for church organs since the tender age of 12. I own and run Viscount Organs with a close attention to the detail that musicians appreciate; and a clear understanding of the benefits of digital technology and keeping to the traditional and emotional elements of organ playing.