Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Organists' Cold Hands


Recommended Posts

I've just returned from doing a couple of recitals "oop North". Unfortunately, at the first concert, whilst I spoke to the audience at the beginning of the recital, I felt my hands - previously warm - getting colder and colder. By the time I'd played the first piece, my fingers were like blocks of ice! This made all subsequent fast passagework problematic throughout the program, and I was dissatisfied with my playing. The audience - bless them! - seemed to enjoy the performance. But I didn't! The next day's recital, however, went swimmingly in a much warmer building.

 

Frozen fingers also became my lot at a recital a week before, although not to the same extent. Normally I have warm hands, but cold lofty buildings in winter don't seem to agree with the giving of organ recitals!

 

Any suggestions, please, folks? Granny gloves, portable heater? :D

Link to post
Share on other sites
I've just returned from doing a couple of recitals "oop North". Unfortunately, at the first concert, whilst I spoke to the audience at the beginning of the recital, I felt my hands - previously warm - getting colder and colder. By the time I'd played the first piece, my fingers were like blocks of ice! This made all subsequent fast passagework problematic throughout the program, and I was unsatisfied with my playing. The audience - bless them! - seemed to enjoy the performance. But I didn't! The next day's recital, however, went swimmingly in a much warmer building.

 

Frozen fingers also became my lot at a recital a week before, although not to the same extent. Normally I have warm hands, but cold lofty buildings in winter don't seem to agree with the giving of organ recitals!

 

Any suggestions, please, folks? Granny gloves, portable heater? :D

Try holding your hands in a sink full of hot water for a good 5 minutes before the recital. Let the heat soak thru to the bone. (Obviously, if it's in Yorkshire, you'll have the cost of heating the water docked from your fee.)

 

Cold hands can also be a sign of nerves. Were you more anxious about the first gig than the second?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I swear by a pair of thinsulate ultra gloves I once bought in an RSPB shop. You'll find them at camping/hiking shops too (you can even get battery-heated ones, but you won't need those). Guaranteed comfort. I'll quite happily keep them on til the last minute while talking to the audience, but then I don't mind looking stupid. If the church is too stingy to put the heating on why should I worry if I make an obvious point?

 

In lieu of the gloves I have been known to stand with my hands on the nearest radiator (if there's one on) for as long as I can manage and then thrust them into my trouser pockets until I have to play. Anything, really!

 

Not quite sure what you can do about creeping frigidity during a recital/service. I'd be interested to know.

 

Of course the answer is to arrange yourself an American tour. They don't do cold churches over there!

Link to post
Share on other sites

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...

Link to post
Share on other sites

You could try any of the following products:

 

http://www.marksandspencer.com/gp/product/...p;rh=&page=

 

http://www.peacockhandwarmers.co.uk/about.html

 

http://www.crazyaboutgadgets.com/detail.asp?ID=414

 

http://www.llbean.com/webapp/wcs/stores/se...mp;feat=9516-tn

 

As of tonight, the third item is currently listed as 'out of stock'; however, I should imagine that supplies are replenished regularly.

 

I hope that you find success.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Fingerless gloves are my 'solution of choice'

 

its also worth practicing with them ON... i find that slower pieces, or hymns etc can be accomplished with them on, taking them off for voluntaries or more technical accompniments..

Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks for those links PCND.

 

However, my problem is keeping my fingers warm whilst actually playing a recital in a cold church. I suppose, however, that a few seconds' use of a hand-warmer between pieces might help. It would certainly be of use during services.

 

Perhaps I just shouldn't go up North to play!!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Try holding your hands in a sink full of hot water for a good 5 minutes before the recital. Let the heat soak thru to the bone. (Obviously, if it's in Yorkshire, you'll have the cost of heating the water docked from your fee.)

 

Cold hands can also be a sign of nerves. Were you more anxious about the first gig than the second?

Wasn't that the method GTB recommended?

 

Yes, the first recital was in Yorkshire!

 

I don't think that I was any more anxious than usual before this particular recital. Rather, I was somewhat disappointed because the Cathedral's "temporary" organ (I really hope it will be very temporary, although I believe it's been there for a while now) which I was anticipating to be a decent - albeit electronic - instrument, turned out to have all the musical charm and variety of a primitive transistor radio I had as a boy.

 

When I played for the second recital, I was in a state of euphoria having found the second organ to be as beautiful as the first was bad. If I just say the name "Blackburn", some of you will know what I mean!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Wasn't that the method GTB recommended?

I don't know about GTB, but I distinctly remember a documentary about the pianist Glenn Gould which showed him immersing his whole forearms up to the elbows in hot water before a recording session. (At least, I assume it was a recording session because I believe he turned his back on giving live recitals.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not really relevant, I know, but many years ago, when I was a student in Worcester I used to do most of my practice on the 3M instrument in St. John in Bedwardine. I've always remembered one occasion when after only a fairly short practice session I decided that it was just too cold and that it was pointless continuing. Just when I was on the point of packing up the vicar appeared through the connecting door from the adjoining vicarage with a mug of hot coffee saying "I thought you might need this". It gave me fresh heart and did seem to keep the fingers working for longer than would otherwise have been the case.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Try holding your hands in a sink full of hot water ...... if it's in Yorkshire, you'll have the cost of heating the water docked from your fee.)

 

 

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

 

 

Quite rightly!

 

After all, holding a pair of ferrets costs nothing.

 

:D

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
Wasn't that the method GTB recommended?

 

Yes, the first recital was in Yorkshire!

 

I don't think that I was any more anxious than usual before this particular recital. Rather, I was somewhat disappointed because the Cathedral's "temporary" organ (I really hope it will be very temporary, although I believe it's been there for a while now) which I was anticipating to be a decent - albeit electronic - instrument, turned out to have all the musical charm and variety of a primitive transistor radio I had as a boy.

 

When I played for the second recital, I was in a state of euphoria having found the second organ to be as beautiful as the first was bad. If I just say the name "Blackburn", some of you will know what I mean!

 

If the first place was "shef...things sheep and cows stand in" (don't you just love talking in code to avoid the search engines and getting sued) then that's interesting as its replaced insides I believe are by the same company that recently installed a handsome 4 manual near a church you used to be organist at... They get good reviews and some folk are raving about them. My experience was that it looks and feels superb, in my opinion, but that's about it - the 'on' switch starts a downhill trend which includes some stops with less charm than a primitive transistor radio!!

Link to post
Share on other sites
If the first place was "shef...things sheep and cows stand in" (don't you just love talking in code to avoid the search engines and getting sued) then that's interesting as its replaced insides I believe are by the same company that recently installed a handsome 4 manual near a church you used to be organist at... They get good reviews and some folk are raving about them. My experience was that it looks and feels superb, in my opinion, but that's about it - the 'on' switch starts a downhill trend which includes some stops with less charm than a primitive transistor radio!!

I'd heard good reports about that 4 manual along the road from you, and was hoping for good things up North. I understand that the organ I played the other day is better than it used to be with the previous electronics, but that's not saying much.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I once solved this problem by taking a fan heater and an extension lead with me.

 

PLEASE be really wary about using fan heaters near organ keyboards. Toasters with plastic keys - not a problem - but I've seen many a fabulous set of wooden keys badly twisted by ill-placed heaters !

 

H

Link to post
Share on other sites
PLEASE be really wary about using fan heaters near organ keyboards. Toasters with plastic keys - not a problem - but I've seen many a fabulous set of wooden keys badly twisted by ill-placed heaters !

 

H

 

And less fabulous too - my antiquated 1 man. was gummed up last winter when someone used the fan heater directly on the keys. Mercifully it soon returned to its humid (and arctic) self!

 

AJJ

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd heard good reports about that 4 manual along the road from you, and was hoping for good things up North. I understand that the organ I played the other day is better than it used to be with the previous electronics, but that's not saying much.

 

Well it does make an impressive noise, and ought to with all those big reeds and all those speakers, BUT I didn't find anything of real charm or beauty once I'd got over my extensive tour of the tutti!!

In fairness though, it's still being tweaked... :unsure:

P

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can recommend a method not to use for warming fingers, namely sitting on your hands. From my recent experience this only yields partial success. True, my fingers no longer felt cold, however this had little to do with their increased temperature and more to do with the fact that they had lost all sense due to lack of circulation. Needless to say the subsequent playing had a certain random element to it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Back to topic.Whilst holding down keys as an apprentice for a tuner, in a bitterly cold church.A lady who had come to the church for a meeting in an adjacent room, kindly offered me a hot loaf of bread which she had just purchased from the bakers opposite the church. "Here you are lad"she said "warm your hands on this". with that she walked off and left me holding the said loaf. Those were the days!

J.Sheppard

Link to post
Share on other sites

I find that warming the keys before playing helps stop fingers from getting cold quickly: I'm sure people who follow this board would not do anything silly enough to damage the instrument!

 

One thing that I've tried is those packs of grain, for example barley, that are used for sore necks after they have been warmed in a microwave oven. All this is needed is to have the pack around body temperature - not hotter - and left on the keys for a few minutes before playing. The pack I use is just the right width to fit on a keyboard.

 

I wish I'd done that when I gave a recital in a church where the holy water, inside the main body of the church, was frozen.

 

I often wear fingerless gloves made of a thermal material when I perform. Gives the critics from the 'popular' press something interesting to mention in their reviews.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I used to help out at a parish church with a very fine Binns organ (one of the best he did), and for some strange reason, the radiant-element heater for the organist was placed rather dangerously above the keys at head-height. It had a timer-switch to prevent roasting the instrument and burning down the church, but I still wasn't convinced as to the safety of it.

 

A fan-heater wafted warm air at the feet, so everything was warm and comfortable at the console.

 

However, after an unusually wet autumn, I recall going along to play, and duly switched on the heaters about 15 minutes before I played the opening voluntaries, and to my horror, mid-voluntary (I think it was the Stanley Trumpet Tune), not one, but three ivories detached themselves and fell beneath the pedal-board. I could live with that, but what I couldn't cope with was the sticky slime of the now melted glue, which continued to migrate across the keys as I played.

 

It was a nightmare!

 

My sticky fingers went all tacky, and on turning a page of the hymn-book, I found myself attached to it. My attempts to shake off the page resulted in the page being torn out. That particular hymn ended with left-hand and pedal only accompaniment.

 

With the migration of the glue, some of the notes then decided to stick down, as they bonded with neighbouring keys.

 

I think it took about two hours to clean the keys, find the missing ivories and glue them back in place.

 

This was not a happy experience.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
:blink:

 

 

All this talk about playing in a cold church with frozen fingers makes me so cross. Are these churches so hard up they cannot afford to heat the Church properly. I think theres a case here for health & safety. What happens to the body when u are cold. U shiver and may need the loo more often as well as the fact your skin just turns all blue. I would not put my health at risk I would certainly refuse to play .

Link to post
Share on other sites
All this talk about playing in a cold church with frozen fingers makes me so cross. Are these churches so hard up they cannot afford to heat the Church properly. I think theres a case here for health & safety. What happens to the body when u are cold. U shiver and may need the loo more often as well as the fact your skin just turns all blue. I would not put my health at risk I would certainly refuse to play .

OK so when would you get to do any practice? I suspect the reality is just that - churches can't afford to heat the places up; old buildings, high fixed costs, poor attendances (no money), inefficient heating...

 

R.

Link to post
Share on other sites
OK so when would you get to do any practice? I suspect the reality is just that - churches can't afford to heat the places up; old buildings, high fixed costs, poor attendances (no money), inefficient heating...

 

R.

 

I used to practice in a hospital chapel - pyjama temperature 24/7 :blink:;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...