Message from the Dean
From the November, 2013 newsletter
Hello AGO Friends!
I don't know about you, but I don't think I can remember a time when we have had so many wonderful organ recitals and choral events in our area! I hope you have been able to attend at least a few of them. I come away from these performances enthused about the quality of the music our members are making. And I've heard lots of new literature that I want to try. It's almost like being at a regional convention, only spread out over numerous weeks instead of being packed into a few short days.
Speaking of conventions, I hope some of you are planning to attend the Louisville chapter's mini-convention on Saturday, November 16th. They have planned a full day of workshops and there is something of interest for everyone. I hate to miss it, but an all-morning rehearsal is going to keep me at church. I will certainly look forward to hearing about it from those of you who can go.
Bonnie and I will be attending the annual Kentucky-Indiana AGO deans' meeting this coming weekend. We are sure to come away with some great ideas for next year. We also want to hear your thoughts, so if you have a particular program or recitalist you'd like to have considered for 2014-15 please let us know. It will be time to begin work on next year's programming before we know it!
It does seem like this year is passing swiftly, and Advent and its attendant busyness is almost upon us. It's easy to be consumed by the myriad rehearsals and performances that inundate musicians at this time of year, so don't forget to give yourself some down time to enjoy the season. May you have a blessed holiday season, and we'll catch you in January at our post-holiday potluck and choral/organ reading session.
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Reflections on Preparing for the Service Playing Exam
Yesterday was Halloween with lots of scary spirits filling the air. As I was thinking about writing this column, it occurred to me that learning to transpose is for me a lot like Halloween-pretty scary. The problem is that I was never taught to play anything that wasn't explicitly written on the printed page. I used to joke that I couldn't play an "Amen" without having the music in front of me! So this segment of the exam is the one that I have been most worried about and the one that might have kept me from pursuing it at all.
What was most encouraging to me was to hear two organists whom I greatly admire talk about how difficult it was for them also. The words that stayed in my mind were: "Transposing is a learnable skill." While I didn't believe that some people were born with the ability to transpose, I did think that certain brains were better wired for that type of activity. Now, granted, a young person's brain may be more flexible, making it a lot easier to learn a new skill. I decided to change my thinking about brains and wiring and flexibility and simply decide that I could learn to transpose. I read all sorts of tips in the resources available from the AGO. I relied on a couple of organist friends to be my cheerleaders. (You can do it-yes you can!) It has taken months, but I am finally able to transpose my hymn (very slowly, mind you) into all four required keys with not too many mistakes. By the time I take the exam I should have it down!
How did I do it? Other than pure persistence and some tears, I didn't follow any one particular method. I know that the best way to become a proficient transposer is to be a proficient reader of intervals. At the beginning, though, that was not very easy for me. I first transposed one voice, then two, and gradually added the other voices. Progress was not straight forward; instead there were ups and downs. I admit, there were times when I almost gave up. However, I have found that as I get better and better at it, I do read the intervals more consistently and reliably.
The bottom line is that all the work has definitely been worth it. You can imagine the triumph I felt when, for the first time, I played my hymn in different keys for a friend. (That's the first time anyone has heard me trying to transpose except for my poor husband, bless his soul.) If you are like me, then, don't let the Halloween spooks get to you. Transposing is a learnable skill. You can do it-yes you can!
Good Shepherd Dedicatory Recital
On Friday June 21 organists Schuyler Robinson, John Linker and Owen Sammons dedicated the new Miller and Wrigley Organ, Goulding & Wood Organbuilders Opus 50 at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Lexington. (Picture courtesy of Elizabeth Leppman.)
Student Recital 2013
On April 28 the Lexington Chapter held a Students' Recital with organists Greg Kimmerer, Maria LeRose-Herndon, Will Kimmerer, Paul Isaacs, Jr., Mark DeAlba, and Jane Johnson. Also pictured is Dr. Schuyler Robinson, Professor of Organ and Harpsichord at the University of Kentucky.
The purpose of the American Guild of Organists is to promote the organ in its historic and evolving roles, to encourage excellence in the performance of organ and choral music, and to provide a forum for mutual support, inspiration, education, and certification of Guild members.