A BYU online organ tutorial course can benefit Church members with piano skills who have been called by priesthood leaders to serve as unit organists.
The online tutorial can be accessed at organ.byu.edu — click on "The New LDS Organist" link.
Featuring both downloadable audio instruction and printable materials, the tutorial was developed by Don Cook, BYU associate professor of music (organ), along with BYU graduate students Jane Dye, Ruth Eldredge and Shinji Inagi.
"We want to help them get to the organ as soon as possible," said Brother Cook of those comfortable at the piano but inexperienced on the organ.
Those following the lessons can download audio podcasts on an mp3 player, iPod or laptop and take the audio instruction with them to the organ. Those without equipment to play the audio files can download transcripts of the audio instruction, but Brother Cook said the lack of audio examples and direction makes for less-effective training.
The lessons provide an opportunity to listen to audio instruction, try out new skills and then play simplified hymns.
The free packet of downloadable support materials includes 25 arrangements of simplified hymns.
All together, the tutorial provides more than four hours of instruction, each of the 12 lessons ranging from five to 35 minutes in length.
Lessons 1 through 5 and 10 through 12 are for all tutorial students. Lessons 6 through 9 can be skipped for those trying to fast-track their instruction — those four lessons are for those with more time to polish their skills.
The course is designed to be completed within a three- to four-week period and can be accomplished by piano players with as little as two years experience, said Brother Cook.
"If they can play a hymn on the piano without much effort, then they'll slide right in," he said.
Brother Cook said organ playing provides a more powerful, appropriate spirit to a worship service than piano accompaniment, but playing the organ is much different than playing the piano.
"It feels different, it plays different," he said.