The New LDS Organist

A Guide Through the First Months

Dear LDS Church Leader:

The New LDS Organist is a free course designed to help LDS pianists adapt their skills to the organ as soon as possible. It can be helpful for pianists who must begin serving as an organist in only a few weeks, for organists who have had little or no formal organ training, for organists who could use a review of basic organ playing skills, and for pianists who would like to begin adapting their skills to the organ.

The course is available free over the Internet as twelve audio lessons. There is a total of just over four hours of instruction, with each lesson lasting between five and thirty-five minutes plus pause time. The lessons involve listening to instruction, trying out new skills at the organ, and playing simplified hymns. For more detailed information about the course, click here.


The New LDS Organist lessons and packet (free). If the organist does not have an mp3 player and/or access to a computer, an inexpensive player with the lessons preloaded is available through the website given above. Other alternatives are also described.

Access. This is most important. Ideally, the lessons are taken right at the organ console with an mp3 player. The organist will need regular access to the meetinghouse organ for taking the lessons and for practice between lessons–at least three visits per week. If possible, it is suggested that a key be checked out to the organist to facilitate and encourage regular practice. Regularly borrowing a key from another person in the locality usually becomes too unwieldy for the organist to continue, leading eventually to discouragement and quitting.

Encouragement. It would be most valuable if another organist or musician could meet with the organist periodically to listen and offer suggestions. Frequent encouragement from priesthood and other leaders can provide valuable motivation as the organist spends the many hours required to learn to play well.

Best wishes as you encourage inspiring music in the church service.

Don Cook
Associate professor of music (organ)
Brigham Young University

Lesson Titles
  • 1. Welcome to Organ Playing! (35 minutes)
  • 2. First Steps in Pedal Playing (13 min.)
  • 3. Playing Prelude Music that Invites the Spirit (13 min.)
  • 4. Effective Hymn Playing–An Overview (11 min.)
  • 5. Hymn Playing in Shortcut Mode–Playing Hymns Right Now (5 min.)
  • (lessons 6-9 are for those who can dedicate the time to learning to play in “polish mode”):
  • 6. Hymn Playing in Polish Mode–Playing Single Lines in Legato Style (21 min.)
  • 7. Hymn Playing in Polish Mode–Playing Two Independent Legato Lines (28 min.)
  • 8. Hymn Playing in Polish Mode–Playing Three Independent Legato Lines (31 min.)
  • 9. Hymn Playing in Polish Mode–Playing Four Independent Legato Lines (38 min.)
  • 10. Hymn Playing–Deciding When to Tie Repeated Notes (25 min.)
  • 11. Playing Postlude Music Appropriately (17 min.)
  • 12. Continuing Your Organ Training (15 min.)

The New LDS Organist was produced by Dr. Don Cook of the Brigham Young University School of Music, assisted by graduate students Jane Dye, Ruth Eldredge, and Shinji Inagi.

Copyright © 2007 by Brigham Young University. All Rights Reserved.

This is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For more information and organ study resources, visit the Organ Study website.
C550 HFAC, BYU, Provo, Utah 84602