A Guide Through the First Months

This free course of twelve lessons is designed to help LDS pianists adapt their skills to the organ as soon as possible. Lessons 1-5 and 10-12 are for everyone. But those who must begin very soon to play for church meetings might consider themselves “in shortcut mode” and skip lessons 6-9. These four lessons are for those who can spend the time required to refine their playing “in polish mode” before beginning to serve as an organist.

All twelve lessons are available free over the Internet as audio lessons (podcasts). 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.

Before taking the audio lessons, you should download and print a free packet of supporting written materials (59 pages, in Adobe pdf format). In addition to the many useful handouts, the packet contains 25 simplified hymns that can be used in those first weeks of service. (Click here for a new handout added to the packet on 2/27/2010.)

The audio lessons can be taken in several ways:

1. iPod or other mp3 player. Ideally the lessons are taken at the organ console with an iPod or other mp3 player and earphones. To download the lessons without cost, use a computer with a high-speed Internet connection, subscribe to The New LDS Organist audio podcasts on iTunes or Google Podcasts and then download them to your mp3 player. If needed, you can get a free iTunes download. If you prefer, you may purchase an inexpensive mp3 player already loaded with the audio lessons, including earphones and a printed packet ($38 plus $7.50 shipping and taxes). Click here to order, or email questions to mail@ardpublications.com

2. Laptop computer. If you do not wish to use an mp3 player, you can take the lessons at the console directly from your laptop computer. Simply subscribe to and get the podcasts on your laptop computer as described above, and then play the lessons at the console through iTunes.

3. Desktop computer. Those without mp3 players or with non-portable computers who have high-speed Internet connections can take the lessons away from the console by clicking each lesson here. It is more effective, however, to study most of the lessons at the organ console.

Those without computers can print the transcript of the lessons (67 pages, in Adobe pdf format) and study them in written form. This will be less effective because of the absence of the many played examples that are included in the audio lessons.

For a few words of explanation to LDS church leaders, click here.

These lessons have been used in ward/stake organist training. Click here (and then click the link at the bottom of the page) to see a detailed outline for one five-week introductory organ course.

The lesson titles are listed below. Click here for a more detailed list of subtopics.

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. Copyright and Use Information

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 at BYU website.

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