Church organists are used to practicing at a keyboard, but a new resource is designed to help organists from a computer keyboard instead of the organ console. A new resource from The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod will provide several short “how to” videos for church organists to improve their service playing skills.
The “Organ 101 Video Series” includes six, ten-minute video segments, prepared and presented by Kevin J. Hildebrand, Associate Kantor at Concordia Theological Seminary and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Each video segment is presented in a “how-to” demonstration format, with Hildebrand teaching a particular idea and then playing several examples for organists to hear and observe.
The videos are available to view online at www.lcms.org/playingtheorgan.
Topics of the videos include organ registration (what kind of sounds does the organist choose), hymn playing, hymn introductions, ideas for playing Divine Service settings 1 and 3 from Lutheran Service Book, and ideas for introducing new hymns. Many of these topics are presented by Hildebrand in on-site workshops, especially the annual summer organist workshops at Concordia Theological Seminary. “Having these videos available online both reinforces the teaching we do on site, and greatly expands the number of people who have access to these ideas,” Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand’s teaching is interspersed with demonstrations at the large Schlicker organ in Kramer Chapel at Concordia Theological Seminary, as well as a small studio instrument on the seminary campus. “It was important to include both a very large and a very limited instrument in the videos,” Hildebrand said, “in order to reflect the wide variety of organs that are used in congregations every week.”
The project began with an idea from the former LCMS Commission on Worship, with a request to prepare some kind of instructional material for church organists that would be accessible and long-lasting. “Rather than spending resources for an on-site workshop, which would be a one-time-only event for a relatively small numbers of participants, we decided to pursue a video demonstration format, available online, that would reach a large number of people,” Hildebrand explained.
Each video was professionally recorded in high-quality video and audio format, engineered by videographer Ty Black, who also recorded the recent DVD “Singing the Faith” (available from Concordia Publishing House, #99-2260).
Church organists, as well as non organists, should find these videos informative and helpful as they are encouraged to improve and enliven their playing. “The most important role of the church organist,” Hildebrand added, “is to lead the singing of the congregation.” Acknowledging that although musical resources in congregations are diverse and varied, the organ remains a constant source of musical leadership in most parishes. The ideas presented in the video will also be useful for other instrumentalists, singers, pastors, and interested congregation members who may want more information about how the organ functions in the worship service.
“We are extraordinarily grateful for this ,” commented Rev. David Johnson, former executive director of the Commission on Worship, now Director of Worship Arts Resources at Concordia Publishing House, who initiated the project. “It is so important to maintain balance in the arena of worship, encouraging [organists] in their craft to support and accompany congregational song,” said Johnson, who initiated the organ video project.
Posted April 28, 2011