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nazard

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Posts posted by nazard

  1. Being on the ludicrously tall side, I find that on many organs when my knees are banging on the underneath of the bottom manual I can just get my heels over the "white" notes with only socks on my feet. My feet are ludicrously wide and long as well (12 1/2 H) so with shoes I find it difficult to press only one pedal at a time. I have never hurt my feet on a pedalboard, but I do go barefoot quite a lot, so my feet are used to the hard life.

  2. The catholics have quite a challenge now - can they design a suitably catholic altar with baldachinno or reredos, an altar of the blessed sacrament and a bishop's cathedra to match the style of the building? Can they produce a music department worthy of the space? Or will we get another heavy duty marble picnic table and a dismal guitar strummer so beloved of contemporary catholic parishes?

     

    If they can put on tridentine high mass with all the trimmings and the music from the graduale it could be quite an experience. Of course, they are well into spanish territory of old, and have their own Mexican Polyphonists. The possibiliies are endless and exciting, but it could well just turn into another musical nightmare. We will have to wait and see.

  3. You sound to me as though you are doing very well. I foolishly offered to fill in at our parish ten years ago when the organist was taken ill, being the least underqualified parishioner. Like you I had been a chorister through all my senior school years and had learned the piano up to a bit less than grade 3. I do not have your ability to harmonise at the keyboard, but I do make a rough but passable job on paper. I had to do four hymns a week right from the start and a lot of simplification went on. No one ever complained, but I was embarassed by how banal it sounded. I was forty six at the time, old enough to have known better.

     

    I set about learning to play. The most important thing was a good teacher. I found pedaling very tiring at first, but I got the hang of it eventually. Now I learn most hymns in a few hours, and can play fair chunks of the Orgelbuchlein.

     

    Things to try: "Pearsall" is actually quite easy, either on manuals only, or pedaling, but sounds rather flashy and impressive.

     

    The first time you manage those pedal runs in Cwm Rhondda you will feel as though you have made it to heaven.

     

    It took me two years to learn "Guiting Power", so don't be put off easily.

     

    As for books, the parish uses "Celebration hymnal for everyone." Avoid this like the plague - tiny scrawling print, a lot of errors, and some poor rearrangements. For better arrangements I use Ancient and Modern Revised & New English Hymnal, which I found in charity shops.

     

    I have the ultimate advantage over you - my hands are big enough to manage a tenth. Gloves are difficult to find though.

  4. I've always liked the Snetzler in Peterhouse, and the Abbott and Smith in the English Martyrs, which a certain Professor Stanford specified. Both are a bit off the usual tourist routes.

  5. You might like this camp site, which I have heard recommended:

     

    Bucklegrove Camp Site Somerset

     

    It is very close to Wells cathedral. It is also handy for Downside Abbey, St Mary Redcliffe (Bristol), Bath Abbey, Bristol Cathedral, and Clifton Cathedral. Exeter, LLandaff and Salisbury Cathedrals are all within the range of a day trip. If you want a day by yourself you could send the family to look at these:

     

    Cheddar Caves

     

    Wookey Hole

     

    The local cider is pretty good too.

  6. This was a wonderful series, but now it has finished, I feel let down by its shortness. Whyever did they stop at Bach?

     

    Perhaps everyone would like to suggest composers for a further series or two to take us on to the present day. Here are my suggestions to kick off a second series:

     

    1) Haydn & Mozart

    2) Mendelssohn and Bruckner

    3) Parry, Stanford, Terry and contemporaries

    4) Howells, Leighton, Rubbra

     

    In the meantime, perhaps we should pester Channel 4 to repeat Howard Goodall's "Organ Works."

  7. I once solved this problem by taking a fan heater and an extension lead with me. I had just about to start my pre service pieces when a churchwarden called up to the loft from the nave.

     

    "What's that buzzing noise?" he asked.

     

    "Its the organ blower," I replied.

     

    "That's OK," he said and disappeared about his duties.

     

    The organ in question was, of course, a toaster...

  8. Ladies and Gentlemen,

     

    The problems you report are trivial. In our parish three individuals have convinced the clergy to let them form a "folk group", for want of a better name. They have never had any music lessons, and do not practice. They sing abominably. They say that lessons and practice are contrary to the spirit of church music, which is about the people singing "their" music in the spontaneous praise of God. Any attempt to get it right is a particularly nasty form of elitism. At least these people are getting on a bit now, having been "flower people" in the sixties, so they will soon be able to discuss their ideas with Himself and find out what He thinks. In the meantime the congregation is dropping at over 10% a year, so there could be a church on the market soon, unfortunately with not much of an organ.

  9. I'm sorry to pull this thread back to the original topic, but has anyone else noticed that at weddings and funerals, where people have to actually pay for the musicians, they nearly always choose an organist to play it even when their choices are more suitable for a guitar, or even better dropped in the dustbin?

  10. I have only personal experience of the Roman Catholic Church, but friends tell me the same is true of the CofE, so here is my two pennyworth.

     

    As I go to mass in several different places I here music in a variety of styles and performed at a variety of standards. When I hear the "sixties" style music played well, I am not drawn to it, but it does not repel me. I am not really at mass for the music. I just wonder how they could be bothered to do all the practice they have obviously put in. However, it would be a boring old world if we all liked the same thing, so they are welcome to do a bit of it provided they do not take over the whole church in the neighbourhood. On the other hand, most renderings of such music are performed unspeakably badly. A couple of elderly ladies, the generation that like this sort of thing is getting on a bit now, screech tunelessly into a microphone while accompanying themselves on an electronic keyboard with every aid it has switched on, auto rhythm, single finger chords, multiple voices. It all sounds like Darth Vader on his way home from a night on the tiles. If you ask them why they do it, they always say "Someone's got to do it for the children." They have not noticed that the children cannot stand it and stopped coming as soon as they were old enough to stand up to adults.

     

    More traditional music is not immune from dreadful standards too, but it does seem to inspire amateur musicians to practice more and to take lessons, which helps.

     

    I propose two guidelines for catholic parishes:

     

    1) Don't sing in parts unless you are competent. Unison works fine with simple repertoire.

     

    2) There is no requirement to sing anything at all. Said mass is permitted.

  11. I have ploughed through all seven pages so far and tried to keep track of it all. The board's contributers do seem to be very broadminded in their dislikes. I think no one has yet nominated Healy Willan, Percy Whitlock or Gustav Merkel. Is this just an oversight, or are these gentlemen where I should be directing my efforts?

  12. I use socks myself, I find my feet are quite wide enough without shoes. Are organ shoes available in 12 1/2 H?

     

    I can't cope with bare feet, they dont slide at all well.

     

    Being tall, I have enough of a problem getting my heels across the pedal board without pressing any pedals and with my knees banging on the bottom manual. I don't fancy the idea of heels at all.

     

    I'm only a parish hymn and voluntary player. I felt very chuffed that I cope with Bach's Pedal Exercitum and similar levels of complexity without any trouble, and now some of you have frightened me with tales of much worse to come. I can see I will just have to practice more.

  13. I'm a mere dwarf of 6'3" and I get over the problem by not wearing any shoes to play. It makes your heals an inch or so higher. With shoes on I find it impossible to move my feet sideways without pressing pedals on the way. Having to have the bench so far back is a problem, the highest manual is a long way away. If I do not take care my back does get very stiff. I find it is better if I reach by keeping my back straight and rocking forward from the hips. I have a horrid feeling this makes me look like John Cleese taking the mickey out of schoolmasters...

  14. My congregation complain about D and above. I have found that they quite hapily go to Eb provided they know the tune well and no one tells them they are singing an Eb. They sing Billing happily in Eb with most of them getting there because it is a very bold major arpegio leading to it. On the other hand, give them a "Praise and Worship" they don't know or like and they foul up on c.

  15. A child in my church had a favourite posession, a tin mug which he bashed, and bashed, and bashed................................. tumutous applause from the congregation. Shortly afterwards they left to became Roman Catholics!

     

    Was that the whole congregation or just the parents?

     

    For several years we had a clergyman who, when he felt that the speed or key of a hymn did not suit his taste, would put his lips to the microphone and bellow along to the hymn in his chosen key and tempo, neither particularly consistently. The tempo I could often accomodate, but what was I supposed to do about the key in mid hymn? Can any of you out there improvise cunning modulations to suit such gentlemen?

     

    The individual has moved on now, so his new organist has my sympathy.

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