Our first two Year 9 students on the new Blue Coat Organ Scholarship, Olivia Stone and George Ke, are delighted with the experience and we asked them how their lessons have been so far.
They are both being taught by Lee Ward, Old Blue and Director of Music at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, on our Willis and Walker organs. Due to the current situation their lessons have been temporarily halted, but they are really looking forward to them being resumed.
What makes the Scholarship so special is that our scholars will also be tutored on the Anglican Cathedral Willis organ and the Metropolitan Cathedral’s Walker organ.
In fact, such is Olivia’s enjoyment that she believes it will be the start of a life-long enthusiasm, which has really broadened her musical tastes. Besides being a pianist, she is also an accomplished violinist.
Olivia said: “The organ is an extremely enjoyable instrument, which is not what I expected it to be. The organ has not only its easy aspects, but also its hard ones.
“Co-ordinating multiple keyboards with my feet can be quite difficult for me but the more I practice, the better I become.
“Overall, I really like the organ as an instrument for me to play and I see myself playing it for most of my life.”
George said: “It has been a really exciting journey so far. I’m starting to pick up the feel of having to work with your feet simultaneously with your hands. I am now working on trying to play with feet and hands in a Bach prelude.
“Playing the organ itself was more of a challenge than I anticipated. The keys on an organ manual are harder to press down than a piano and playing with your feet and your hands are quite the challenge. It definitely requires a lot of concentration.
“However, it is a fun challenge and I derive joy and satisfaction from completing a hard piece of music. Playing bass notes on the pedals along with playing on the manuals really adds depth to the music.
“The stops on an organ are also quite fun to play with and the amount of different sounds an organ can produce is impressive. You can play the organ like a brass, woodwind, reed instrument or all of those at once!
“As the organ is not reliant on volume, expressing organ music must come from articulation (things like how long each note is played for effect) and how you phrase the music rather than volume. It also means you have to be more precise with your playing, as the release of a key is more noticeable because air stops flowing through the pipe immediately as soon as you let go.
“Our organ teacher Lee has been really helpful with articulation and explaining how I can phrase the music better for the organ. The organ is much more different than I expected, but it has been great fun applying my piano skills to the organ and learning to express my music in a different way to the piano.”
We wish George and Olivia every success and we look forward to keeping you updated on their progress.
To find out more about our Blue Coat For All project please click here.