AGO Prepares 30 Instructional Videos for New Organists

The AGO has begun developing a series of 30 videos intended to teach basic skills and techniques to beginning organists including pianists who are making a transition to organ-playing. The videos will be available on the AGO ‘s YouTube channel. More information will be forthcoming shortly. In the meantime, here are the working titles of the videos:

1. A pianist’s first steps in making the transition to the organ. The concept of 8´ pitch.
2. The architecture and layout of the American pipe organ. Two-manual organs.
Turning the organ on. The coupling of manuals.
3. Larger American organs of three or more manuals. Coupling manuals to pedal. Divisions under dynamic expression.
4. The organ score. Manual and pedal compasses. Varieties of pedalboards.
5. Families of organ tone. Naming the sounds and stops. Ranges of organ pitch.
6. Two basic contrasting organ registrations for leading hymn singing.
7. Using general and local pistons (thumb pistons and toe studs) to change registrations quickly.
8. Traditional use of mutation stops, the cornet, and mixture stops.
9. The crescendo pedal. Where is it? What does it do? When is it useful?
10. Does the shoe fit? A discussion of organ shoes.
11. Are you comfortable? A discussion of best bench height.
12. Basics of good pedaling. A few pointers from various organ methods.
13.-18. A keyboardist’s guide to leading hymns with the organ.
1)The use of organ pedals when adapting a hymn to the organ.
2)Varying the organ registrations in hymn playing.
3)The beauty of simple hymnal harmony. Using only time and touch to shape melody.
4)The power of interpreting hymn texts with alternate harmony.
5)The why, when, and how of key modulation in hymn playing.
6)Responding to classic prose forms in hymn texts.
19. Getting a shy congregation to sing. Elastic tempo and variety of touch in hymn playing.
20. Pointers for hymn introductions, and on handling the time between stanzas.
21. Love that text but not that tune, and vice versa. A guide for using metrical indexes for finding alternate hymn tunes.
22. A little traveling music. Spinning out a liturgical procession and filling awkward silences. Is this called organ improvisation?
23. To Amen or not to Amen, and other traditional conventions in American hymn singing.
24. Varied textures in playing hymns. Soloing out melodies and symphonic hymn registration.
25. Getting a MIDI-capable instrument to play through the organ console.
26. The art of the organ substitute. Tips on adjusting to changing acoustics and unfamiliar congregations.
27. Getting around on the vintage Hammond B-3 and C-3 electronic organs.
28. Tips for adapting to historic replica organs and exotic tunings during worship.
29. Customizing your own American-style crescendo pedal.
30. Adapting folk, guitar, piano, and other non-organ music to the organ.


  1. DANIEL BERG says:

    I would like to suggest more videos on techniques for adapting contemporary piano music to the organ. The current video uses Greensleeves (!) as an example. There are a lot of issues related to adapting contemporary piano music to organ that could be addressed (given the scope of the issue, I would suggest several videos using multiple examples of different techniques that can be used). Thanks–Dan Berg

    • Jerry Davidson says:

      Good to hear from you, Daniel. Thanks for the suggestions which will be seriously considered. Right now the committee is tuned in on the applications for the Pogorelski-Yankee scholarships, but we will turn our attention to concerns such as yours directly after.
      Drop me a note at if you like.
      Jerry Davidson
      Director, Committee on Continuing Professional Education

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