May. 6, 2016

The Ten Commandments Of Organ Practice

(by Daniel E. Gawthrop, as published in Keyboard World, ca. 1975):

I. Thou shalt practice every day, even if only for a short period.

II. Thou shalt NEVER practice faster than thou canst play perfectly, for it is written, Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.

III. Thou shalt NOT put off working on the hard parts; David did not invite Goliath to come back after tea.

IV. Thou shalt work out a usable fingering, inscribe it on thy papyrus, and NEVER vary from same, for Fumble Fingers Find Fate Fickle.

V. Thou shalt never apologize for thy playing, nor say "Oops!" when thou makest a mistake, for thou wilt only draw attention to things which otherwise would never be noticed by the thick people.

VI. Thou shalt practice each composition in short segments; that thy fingers may not break off more than thy mind can chew.

VII. Thou shalt listen ... and not only to organists, for it is written: What this untidy world needs is fewer organists and more musicians who can play the organ.

VIII. Thou shalt NOT play pedals without shoes (photo) ... for thy Odor-Eaters may be spent, and besides, it leads to sloppy playing.

IX. Thou shalt begin and end each practice session with something thou canst play readily, that thou mayest not be discouraged.

X. Thou shalt always remember that thy practice is a labour of love and that by persistence (oft proved by thyself in other undertakings) thou canst bring to pass many wonders.

NOTE: Nobody's perfect; all of us, at some point, have "sinned" against this Decalogue and have fallen short, sometimes for good and sufficient reasons; number 8 is a particularly hard one to keep [See blog, Playing Barefoot].
Playing and practicing in street shoes is acceptable if and only if they're absolutely clean and of the proper construct and made of suitable materials [See blog, Shoes Part I, Balance in Organ Playing Part I, Playing Barefoot].
Generally it's best to have a special pair of shoes used for organ playing and nothing else [See blog, A Third Hand].