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Organist’s space: events, organ travels and player stories

Organ Lessons through the Royal College of Organists

RCO Organ Lesson

Why not try an organ lesson with one of the Royal College teachers? You do not have to be expert and lessons are graded for relative beginners all the way up to diploma students. Details of lessons can be found at on the RCO Organ School Page.

View from the organ loft

St Chads – view from the organ loft

I have attended a number now. Usually a number of students usually 6 meet and spend 3 hours together in a group session. Recently I was at the marvellous Walker Organ of St Chad’s RC Cathedral in Birmingham with tutor James Parsons. Sometimes there are observer students who do not play but can pick up tips and advice.

If there is one thing that I might advise from personal experience, I believe that I have learnt and understood the most by watching others, most usually far better than me play. Do not underestimate the value of observing. If you have read any of my experiences as a page turner I might hazard that this work has given me the very best insight into what to aim for. OK, you then need technique to achieve it, but if you do not have a clear picture of where you are travelling to, your route will be winding at best.

James Parsons - tutor

Tutor for the day James Parsons

The afternoon at St Chad’s was a particular pleasure as the organ and venue are special. Not all lessons take place in such magnificent surroundings but that is a bonus, not the raison d’être.

St Chad Organ Case

St Chad Organ Case

Our session was about developing a personal musical style and I chose a lyrical piece by Guillmant. Most others were positioned well in the Baroque period with Bach Bruhns and Buxtehude and almost all set in E minor by pure coincidence.

The RCO lessons provide an opportunity to meet other organists, gain experience of playing (under pressure) to others and of course sharing learning at a new organ which provides a challenge all of its own.

I can not commend too highly the value of these teaching sessions and would urge any aspiring musician to take advantage of them even if it does mean some travel and allocation of a fairly full day to indulge the music and art we all enjoy.

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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.

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