What’s the main difference between a pianist and an organist? Obviously, there are many – but organists have to focus on playing an entire pedalboard with their feet! That’s why many people shy away from mastering such an incredible instrument. Today, we’d like to discuss the pedalboard of the pipe organ and some tips and tricks to conquering this challenge!
As an organist, your shoes become one of the most important playing tools you have. That’s why you may want to invest in some organ shoes that will help you play different pedals with your heel and toe at the same time. However, if you are just learning, then there is nothing wrong with learning in your stockings or dance shoes if they fit the same shape as organ shoes do. Essentially, any shoe with a good heel, a strap to keep it in place on your foot, and leather soles will be suitable for organ playing.
Adjusting the Bench
In order to play the pedalboard, your feet need to reach comfortably! Adjust the pipe organ bench so that your heels are at the same height as the pedals and your feet are parallel to the keys. You should need to lift your toes off the pedalboard to reposition your feet, but not stretch in order to press the pedals. Next, move the pipe organ bench forward or backward so that your feet are just shy of the black pedals. Be prepared to swivel your legs wherever they need to go instead of moving your entire body!
Playing the Pedals
Using small and concentrated movements will keep you playing only the proper notes. During any rests, use that time to lift your feet and reposition your toes to prepare for the next note. The best way to press a pedal is to use all of your toes but to also avoid using the entirety of the foot. With a flexible ankle, you should be able to pivot your toes any direction needed to play. In order to keep your legs ready for any interval or note, do your best to keep your knees together except for when your feet need to reach to the edges of the pedalboard. By keeping your knees and ankles in line, you will be able to better control your pedal movements.
Building Your Abilities
As you practice, you will find that mastering the pipe organ pedalboard won’t feel like a big deal! Of course, having a good organ teacher can make all the difference when it comes to learning the proper technique. Take the time to build your skills and gain the muscle memory you need to smoothly operate the pedalboard. Just like learning the piano, these muscles develop over time and eventually do not quite require as much thought as they did when you first learning to play.
If you are in need of a pipe organ for your New York music school, church, or wherever, please contact Whitesel Church Organs today! We cannot wait to help you choose the perfect pipe organ to meet your needs. We would also be happy to tune your current organ, so please give us a call.