Basic Organ Skills

School of Music
Brigham Young University

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To establish a foundation of basic organ playing skills that will enable one to achieve two main objectives : SKILLS OBJECTIVES

1. To know and apply basic principles of organ registration and construction
2. To listen in both practice and performance for perfect legato, precise releases, and independence of line
3. To use the standard legato manual and pedal techniques fluently
4. To play simple pedal parts in combination with elementary manual parts
5. To prepare and play four-part hymns to a high standard
6. To use efficient practice techniques
7. To experience (primarily through listening) a wide range of organ repertoire with three main goals:



The term is divided into three units, with written exams at the conclusion of the first and third. Satisfactory completion of hymn projects, played exercises, OrganTutor lessons, written assignments, listening exercises, and a recital review is also required.

The work load is based on the following from the Undergraduate Catalogue: “The expectation for undergraduate courses is three hours [in semesters] of work per week per credit hour for the average student who is appropriately prepared; much more time may be required to achieve excellence.” Therefore, this two-credit spring term course requires an average of 12 hours per week of practice, study, and class participation (much of which can “count” as practice time). Of those 12 hours, 6 hours of practice are required and must be recorded in the practice record (38 hours for the term). The practice grade that is assigned, however, is used for grading only if it will improve your grade. This means that those who can complete the played assignments in less time may do so without penalty, and those with consistently high hours who cannot complete all assignments may receive an improved course grade. Either way, you must keep a practice record (see the last page of the text) and report times to your instructor as requested. Failure to turn in a completed practice record on final exam day will result in a full grade drop for the course.

Use your practice time to prepare all of the ‡P layed assignments listed below under "Course Grade—Played Assignments." The weekly total that is used for grading, listed below under “Practice Time,” is calculated by dividing the total semester practice hours by 6.4. This means that any extra practice during a good practice week can help offset a bad practice week.

The final course grade is determined as follows:


* Only time spent working directly on these items (the played assignments and any extra credit) may count towards practice time.


(may be worth up to 30% of course grade)


Each of the three units includes assignments and projects that should be passed off by the due date specified on the “Weekly Preparation Guide,” or by the due date set by your instructor. Played and written assignments and projects are graded with the letter grades "A," "B," or "C," representing "above average," "average," or "below average," respectively. Late completions, if accepted, will receive a full grade drop. Written exams will take place during week 4 and on the scheduled final exam day.

Use the “Weekly Preparation Guide” to work through the course. That, together with this syllabus, give due dates and details of the assignments and projects. Use the “OrganTutor Organ 101 Lesson Objectives” (in the back of the text) to help focus your study of the OT lessons, as a suggested specific order of lesson study, and for note taking. Since any class discussion or lecture time will be brief to allow for more supervised practice time with your instructor, you are responsible to learn the material through independent reading and study by following the Weekly Preparation Guide. Use the course texts, OrganTutor, the organs themselves, your fellow students, and your instructor as resources for getting answers to questions. If your instructor cannot spend enough time during supervised practice to answer your questions, ask for an appointment.


Those who can follow detailed instructions, who can learn quickly, and who are rather self-motivated, may not need to attend every class. For this reason, unless your instructor specifies otherwise, class attendance is only required on the dates listed in the Weekly Prep Guide. However, 1) ALL deadlines must be observed. 2) Individual appointments and other special treatment (i.e., excessive emails) will not be arranged for those who accumulate more than three class absences throughout the semester. 3) Students will be listened to on a regular rotation each class day, and for no more than ten minutes each.



The books listed below are available in the BYU Bookstore in the music sections of either the text floor or the general book area. These items should be brought to classes and practice sessions as needed.



In keeping with the principles of the BYU Honor Code, students are expected to be honest in all of their academic work.  Academic honesty means, most fundamentally, that any work you present as your own must in fact be your own work and not that of another.  Violations of this principle may result in a failing grade in the course and additional disciplinary action by the university. Students are also expected to adhere to the Dress and Grooming Standards.  Adherence demonstrates respect for yourself and others and ensures an effective learning and working environment.  It is the university’s expectation, and my own expectation in class, that each student will abide by all Honor Code standards.  Please call the Honor Code Office at 422-2847 if you have questions about those standards.


Sexual discrimination or harassment (including student-to-student harassment) is prohibited both by the law and by BYU policy.  If you feel you are being subjected to sexual discrimination or harassment, please bring your concerns to the professor.  Alternatively, you may lodge a complaint with the Equal Employment Office (D-240C ASB) or with the Honor Code Office (4440).


If you have a disability that may affect your performance in this course, you should get in touch with Services for Students with Disabilities (1520 WSC).  This office can evaluate your disability and assist the professor in arranging for reasonable accommodations.