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Vox Humana

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On Saturday 24 March at 10.00 a.m. the Plymouth and District Organists' Association is mounting a "Meet the Organ" morning at St Andrew's, Plymouth. The event hopes to stimulate some interest in learing the organ by giving any budding pianists a chance of learning a bit about what an organ is and how it works and giving them the opportunity to get their mitts on one and give it a whirl. All ages are welcome, but youngsters especially so. To this end the association has been doing a fair bit of canvassing, including sending leaflets/posters to all the schools in the area.

 

From what I hear the feedback so far has not been very encouraging, but I was positively dismayed to hear of the attitude of the Head of Music at one of Plymouth's most highly repected secondary schools. The gentleman concerned - a brass player - apparently simply binned the material, dismissing the organ as "an old man's instrument" and by implication not worth further consideration. This despite the fact that two of his pupils are already organ pupils - one of them a lad who, although he has not been learning long, has exceptional potential.

 

Does anyone else share my dismay about finding such a blinkered attitude in an institution supposedly dedicated to education?

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Guest Lee Blick
"an old man's instrument"

 

I'm not that totally surprised. Organ playing still has that image of an elderly frustated man in a half-mask cranking out Toccata in D, or Phantom of the Opera. I think the positive effect from "Organ Idol" or "Strictly Come Orgasming" has yet to happen....

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Does anyone else share my dismay about finding such a blinkered attitude in an institution supposedly dedicated to education?

When we took our son who was a budding pianist to visit our first choice of secondary school (on the basis of the piano teacher), the head of music (and ex-army bandmaster) said that as he also played the oboe he would consider him as an oboist first regardless of his wishes. That was really upsetting for both him and us. When we declined to proceed the head and the piano teacher both tried to change our minds - but I reckon we made the right decision, as he is now a well-regarded concert pianist and teaching at Stuttgart Hochschule fur Musik.

 

It's a real shame when supposed educators wear blinkers; but far too common, sadly.

 

Paul

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Guest Roffensis
I'm not that totally surprised. Organ playing still has that image of an elderly frustated man in a half-mask cranking out Toccata in D, or Phantom of the Opera. I think the positive effect from "Organ Idol" or "Strictly Come Orgasming" has yet to happen....

 

 

Yes. What we need a good Docusoap about an Organist in his 20s, who joins the army, loves ground manouvres, and flower arranging. That would be a good puller, and bring up the ratings. If he wore a hoodie, so much the better. I might be persuaded to be in it myself come to think.... B)

 

 

R

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Guest Lee Blick
Yes. What we need a good Docusoap about an Organist in his 20s, who joins the army, loves ground manouvres, and flower arranging. That would be a good puller, and bring up the ratings. If he wore a hoodie, so much the better. I might be persuaded to be in it myself come to think.... B)

R

 

...as the frustrated gay balding manager of said 20 year old organ dude, perhaps.... B)

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As a Head of Music/Performing Arts in a large comp. I would like to stick up for the more enlightened of our breed - I have no students learning the organ at present but would never put any of them off learnng whatever they wanted. We have the full range of 'usual' visiting instrumental teachers and a healthy uptake by the students.

 

AJJ

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Yes. What we need a good Docusoap about an Organist in his 20s, who joins the army, loves ground manouvres, and flower arranging. That would be a good puller, and bring up the ratings. If he wore a hoodie, so much the better. I might be persuaded to be in it myself come to think.... B)

R

 

There have been some such programmes in the past; though not containing hoodies and flower arranging, there was a half-hour/40min programme on David Davies (Guildford) a few years ago.

 

My boss at the Abbey is working on a "learn the organ" extravagansa and I know of some local organists' associations doing similar things too.

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Guest Roffensis
There have been some such programmes in the past; though not containing hoodies and flower arranging, there was a half-hour/40min programme on David Davies (Guildford) a few years ago.

 

My boss at the Abbey is working on a "learn the organ" extravagansa and I know of some local organists' associations doing similar things too.

 

 

I think you should go with hoodie organists. It would be very trendy, it would interest the youngsters out there to play as well. Sort of like the organist's equivalent of Mission Praise?! You know, get the crowds in with a good chorus, or in this case, hoods?

 

Very upbeat B)

 

R

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I'm not that totally surprised. Organ playing still has that image of an elderly frustated man in a half-mask cranking out Toccata in D, or Phantom of the Opera. I think the positive effect from "Organ Idol" or "Strictly Come Orgasming" has yet to happen....

 

 

===============================

 

All the more reason why we should all applaud the planned "celebrity reality" show, in which Joe Brand is learning to play the organ. I don't know when it is planned to be completed or broadcast, but I am sure it will be fun to watch.

 

Joe Brand, for anyone who isn't aware, plays little else but Bach's organ-music, (on record of course), in the build-up to her one-woman shows.

 

Unfortunately, the organ became someone tainted in the God-awful cult-soap, "Eldorado" (Remember that you oldies?).....the character Mrs Mengele forever indulging in small-talk to the accompaniment of Peter Hurford playing the Bach C-minor Passacaglia & Fugue, or when she was clipping Spanish roses, to the more up-beat F Major Toccata. (I personally have the Jig Fugue playing when I dub the roses....it gets it done so much more quickly).

 

The soap, Mrs.Mengele, Peter Hurford and the whole cast, sank without trace after 12 months of misery, missed queues and fluffed lines; unlike the organist, who was unfailingly accurate and dynamic; even if he only played two pieces from the repertoire.

 

Perhaps someone should suggest a suitable type of plot, and I could have a go at writing a radio-play for the Beeb.

 

B)

 

MM

 

 

PS: Classic moment in "Eldorado" (before the writer/producer had a nervous breakdown) was when a Danishh character said something in Danish, then turns to a Scot and says, "Isn't that right Drew?"

 

Drew, and the entire studio audience look blank, and Drew finally replies with, "What?"

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I think you should go with hoodie organists. It would be very trendy, it would interest the youngsters out there to play as well. Sort of like the organist's equivalent of Mission Praise?! You know, get the crowds in with a good chorus, or in this case, hoods?

 

Very upbeat B)

 

R

 

=======================

 

 

I like this....let's see now....a brotherhood of organ-playing Monks, out for the day on an organ-crawl, and barred from having lunch at the Bluewater Centre. They return later dressed as Nuns, singing excerpts from "The Sound of Music," to rapturous applause, with Joe Brand playing the part of Mother Superior.

 

It has potential.

 

MM

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Guest Roffensis
=======================

I like this....let's see now....a brotherhood of organ-playing Monks, out for the day on an organ-crawl, and barred from having lunch at the Bluewater Centre. They return later dressed as Nuns, singing excerpts from "The Sound of Music," to rapturous applause, with Joe Brand playing the part of Mother Superior.

 

It has potential.

 

MM

 

 

Yes, quite. It does.

 

R B)

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Guest Lee Blick
=======================

I like this....let's see now....a brotherhood of organ-playing Monks, out for the day on an organ-crawl, and barred from having lunch at the Bluewater Centre. They return later dressed as Nuns, singing excerpts from "The Sound of Music," to rapturous applause, with Joe Brand playing the part of Mother Superior.

 

It has potential.

 

MM

 

 

You have spent far too much time in the Order of the Perpetual Indulgence... :(

 

As much as I love Jo Brand, a middle-aged, 'lesbianic' (I know she's not) 'maneater' isn't gonna turn that many stop-heads. We need some cute lads who have McFly type haircuts, who gets down to some hardcore organ playing in between snorting down Persil Automatic and heading off to Ibiza every so often....

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You have spent far too much time in the Order of the Perpetual Indulgence... :(

 

As much as I love Jo Brand, a middle-aged, 'lesbianic' (I know she's not) 'maneater' isn't gonna turn that many stop-heads. We need some cute lads who have McFly type haircuts, who gets down to some hardcore organ playing in between snorting down Persil Automatic and heading off to Ibiza every so often....

 

 

I say.

 

Shock and horror.

 

Ibiza? :o

 

R

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You have spent far too much time in the Order of the Perpetual Indulgence... :(

 

As much as I love Jo Brand, a middle-aged, 'lesbianic' (I know she's not) 'maneater' isn't gonna turn that many stop-heads. We need some cute lads who have McFly type haircuts, who gets down to some hardcore organ playing in between snorting down Persil Automatic and heading off to Ibiza every so often....

 

============================

 

 

I suspect that the possibility of finding "cute lads with McFly haircuts" among the English organ-playing community are fairly remote. Most I know have flat, greasy hair, wear thick spectacles and have hideous pimples, no dress sense and wear their wrist-watches on the left.

 

I did come across an organ student at Sheffield Cathedral, who could easily have been a pop-star, but that is the only one I can ever recall.

 

So in the absence of "McFly men," perhaps we should turn out attention to lady organists. I do not recall the name, but there is a very beautiful lady organist in Estonia, with long blonde hair. (You see! I may have a preference for the classical, but I can appreciate the romantic).

 

All we need is a plot.

 

How about dishy blond foreign organist forced to work in London sweatshop, surrounded by horrible people who never smile and a boss who cannot be trusted. For a whole year they spit and snarl at each other, until it gets to Christmas, when they all kiss and make up and wish each other "Mewwy Chris'mas dawling" as an ageing blond bimbo pulls a pint at the pub.

 

Sounds vaguely familiar to me...........

 

East-Enders with better music?

 

MM

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Yes. What we need a good Docusoap about an Organist in his 20s, who joins the army, loves ground manouvres, and flower arranging. That would be a good puller, and bring up the ratings. If he wore a hoodie, so much the better. I might be persuaded to be in it myself come to think.... :(

R

Actually the team responsible for pulling this event together would quite like to get the local TV news to film a short item featuring the young lad I mentioned as an advert for the day. Uphill task getting the TV interested in something like this though...
As a Head of Music/Performing Arts in a large comp. I would like to stick up for the more enlightened of our breed - I have no students learning the organ at present but would never put any of them off learnng whatever they wanted. We have the full range of 'usual' visiting instrumental teachers and a healthy uptake by the students.
I would never have doubted you, Alastair! :o

 

If what my wife tells me is true, we should probably be thankful that the prejudiced gentleman I mentioned above plays an instrument at all. Apparently in this age of computer music it is not uncommon to find heads of music who are incapable of playing anything.

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Does anyone else share my dismay about finding such a blinkered attitude in an institution supposedly dedicated to education?

 

Count me in, Vox.

 

Stiil, what else does one expect from a brass player?

 

I do not wish to generalise, but personally, I hate playing the organ in concerts or services with brass players. I know a good number as personal friends and, whilst none are remotely musically inept (and all have a superb technique) they seem lacking in musicality. I have never yet met a brass player who is able to play at less than fortissimo. Tte last time I played in such a concert, I was unable to hear the full organ (and that included the chamades). For anyone who knows the instrument in my church, they will appreciate that this is not an inadequate or gentle sound. Yet, with only five or six players, the organ was completely drowned out. I often used to wonder why my previous boss bothered to book any other players for concerts. As soon as the brass section started, the rest of us might just as well have gone home. I suppose that we were there simply to play the parts which did not include brass. A number of other members of the orchestra used to ask the same question on a regular basis.

 

Anyway, I digress. I think that what I an trying to say is that whilst this is a reprehensible attitude, it is not necessarily universal (possibly even amongst brass players). Perhaps an approach to the Headmaster, with a view to asking him if it would be possible to distribute some leaflets to pupils - or tackling the attitude of his Director of Music, might be worth the time.

 

 

 

============================

I suspect that the possibility of finding "cute lads with McFly haircuts" among the English organ-playing community are fairly remote. Most I know have flat, greasy hair, wear thick spectacles and have hideous pimples, no dress sense and wear their wrist-watches on the left.

 

MM

 

Speak for yourself, MM....!

 

:(

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============================

I suspect that the possibility of finding "cute lads with McFly haircuts" among the English organ-playing community are fairly remote.

I think such organists as may be more easily found than you think!

 

Anyway, i think this story confirms my view that the only people suitable to run music education are organists.

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=======================

I like this....let's see now....a brotherhood of organ-playing Monks, out for the day on an organ-crawl, and barred from having lunch at the Bluewater Centre. They return later dressed as Nuns, singing excerpts from "The Sound of Music," to rapturous applause, with Joe Brand playing the part of Mother Superior.

 

It has potential.

 

MM

 

OK - I have a hoodie (but no ASBO); but I am not dressing-up as a bloody monk - or a nun.

 

Incidentally, who is Joe Brand? Is he the brother of a comedienne who I suspect to be a misandrist?

 

It is true that there is a widespread perception of organists being greasy, spotty, geeky individuals, the lenses of whose glasses are so thick they must have superb eyesight to see though them. It is further imagined that such persons have the personality of a dead beaver and the social skills of an okapi.

 

However, there must be those amongst us that do not possess more than one anorak, do not make regular forays to Crewe station to collect train numbers - and who do not think that Ray Mears' Bushcraft is a programme about short, curly hair styling....

 

If there are such amongst us, perhaps it would be possible to arrange a meeting and come up with an exciting idea for promoting the organ as a worthwhile instrument.

 

On the other hand ...

 

 

... has anyone seen my anorak?

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If there are such amongst us, perhaps it would be possible to arrange a meeting and come up with an exciting idea for promoting the organ as a worthwhile instrument.

 

On the other hand ...

 

... has anyone seen my beaver anorak?

 

 

Sean, is there something you're not telling us? :(

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Sean, is there something you're not telling us? :(

 

Ummm.... no - I was using the word 'beaver' figuratively, not in the Naked Gun sense....

 

 

Notwithstanding, I have altered the original post - it did sound a bit odd. Please feel free to adjust your quote accordingly - or not.

 

:o

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I saw a post by a 16 year old organ student on another forum, saying he's only just started learning, but would really like to experience a big organ. So I dropped him a PM and offered to let him have a go at my church. He was keen, but I get the sense (unsaid) that his mother is not.

 

I can understand her concerns, but I wonder if this kind of thing is an image we organists have to overcome? i.e. we have an image as a bunch of weirdos, so it's not cool to learn the organ, plus the more sinister things that people associate with church musicians, rightly or wrongly.

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I have a hoodie (but no ASBO)

 

The mind wanders...

 

ARCO: A Reasonably Competent Organist

ASBO: A Stunningly Bad Organist

 

Do you suppose Ede & Ravenscroft would stock the appropriate hood(ie) for ASBO? Presumably the lining is Burberry?

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I saw a post by a 16 year old organ student on another forum, saying he's only just started learning, but would really like to experience a big organ.........He was keen, but I get the sense (unsaid) that his mother is not.

 

I can understand her concerns, but I wonder if this kind of thing is an image we organists have to overcome? i.e. we have an image as a bunch of weirdos............... plus the more sinister things that people associate with church musicians, rightly or wrongly.

 

====================

 

I'm not saying anything!!!!!!

 

:(

 

 

MM

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