May. 6, 2016

The Ten Commandments Of Organ Practice

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. Number 8 is a particularly hard one to keep.
Playing and practicing in street shoes is acceptable if the shoes are of the proper construct and made of suitable materials [See blog, Shoes, Part I, Balance in Organ Playing, Part I], or a special pair of organ shoes can be used [See blog, A Third Hand].
Removing street shoes for pedal practice and playing in our socks is never a good idea because the instrument is never performed in public that way, not to mention that it's impossible, when we're barefoot or in our stocking feet, to step across a pedal key to play thirds with one foot [See blog, Shoes, Part I, II].
As for any visible holes in the socks, they might succeed in air conditioning the toes and maybe even the heels ... but would still not satisfy Number 8.
That kind of practicing would be more "hole-ey" than righteous.