Author Topic: No__55___Of interest to Seniors  (Read 221 times)

Peter Anderson

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No__55___Of interest to Seniors
« on: September 02, 2013, 04:11:11 PM »
As I am now fast approaching 70, but not telling you from which side(!), it reminded me that the aging issue is significant for many senior organists.
I know that for some this can be a delicate area, but we still want to practice, and continue playing well.  We still want to perfect our skills and share them with other members.  However, we also feel that the learning process takes more time and it is not as easy as it once was.  Beside that our joints including our fingers are not as flexible as they once were.

So here are a few, I hope, helpful and encouraging considerations for us senior folk to consider, in order to (as Peter Slack says), ”Keep the Music Playing”.

1. Enjoy every moment on the organ bench
Always remember that practice is a privilege for which we have to be grateful. Sharing our skills with others is another great privilege. Keeping this in mind, organ playing should be an activity that we treasure, knowing how much we would miss it, if we lost the opportunity.  So really enjoy it.

2. Take your time and don't rush
At this stage of our lives, don't push yourself too hard.  Although the learning process might take longer than it used to, we are still making progress.  So don't attempt to play very fast, with a new piece.  Start your practice at such a tempo where you can avoid making (too many) mistakes and thereby stay in control. 

3. Play only pieces that you really love
There is no point in practicing music, which someone else has given to you, that you don't enjoy or has little musical quality.  The same could be said for those dry exercises unless of course they are meaningful to you and lead to the advancement of your skills.

4. Make frequent breaks in your practice sessions
It is good advice for people to take rests, to relax, and be prepared to stretch about every 30 minutes or so. I find certain muscles – especially in my back, demand this.   For seniors, the breaks might have to be even more frequent.  If you feel tired after playing for 15 minutes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Take a short break, walk a little, stretch or lie down with your eyes closed and have a drink.  Then you will feel refreshed and will be able to practice for at least another 15 minutes, and make quality use of the time.

5 Think about master organists of the past, who might have been your age, or older
For example, Johann Adam Reincken (baptized about Dec 10th 1643- Nov 24th 1722) but some claims to his birth are much earlier. We know that he was still active as an organist in St. Catherine's church in Hamburg at the beginning of the 18th century.   Whatever his actual birth date, he was certainly still mastering the organ, well into his late 80’s.  He knew Dieterich Buxtehude closely and influenced Vincent Lübeck and probably met Johann Sebastian Bach.  Although their meeting may be apocryphal, J.S.Bach was both impressed and influenced by Reincken, both as an organist and a composer.

In this painting, Domestic Music Scene by Johannes Voorhout, the man at the harpsichord is almost certainly Reincken, on his left most probably Dieterich Buxtehude playing the viola da gamba, and on his right, below the harpsichord, possibly Johann Theile.



Do any of you have any particular thoughts or tips, that you find helpful, which would be of value to other senior members?  If so, please feel free to share them below.

Peter

Hugh Wallington

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Re: No__55___Of interest to Seniors
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2013, 05:59:12 PM »
One of the problems that can occur as one gets older when playing an organ is backache.  When I had my Farfisa organ I had no problems, but had backache problems with my AR 80 from day one.  I saw a physiotherapist, who sorted me out with my back, and then suggested doing something about the organ stool, as if this is not right it can lead to back problems.

Read here (a) the solution for me, and (b) what others had to say about the height of their organ stool.

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=667.msg1664#msg1664

Sorry.  This is not available to non-members.


Hugh

PS.  I have had no more back problems since using that cushion.  If I sit on the stool without the cushion my back tells me within about 2 minutes!
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Ian and Bev Harrison

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Re: No__55___Of interest to Seniors
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2013, 01:01:02 AM »
Hi All,
I could not agree more with Peter's comments that the whole point of having an organ (obviously a non-essential extravagance) is to enjoy it.  Therefore it makes sense to only play pieces you enjoy playing.  However one should also remember that as one gets older it is necessary to keep your mind and body active otherwise you fossilize and slow down even further.  Playing music and learning new skills within that genre must assist with both but particularly the mind.   It is well proven that youngsters who learn music (and necessarily learn to read music) do better at maths and other logical skills than those who do not.  While I have not seen any empirical evidence to justify my supposition I believe this still applies to us old codgers as well.  So while agreeing with Peter that it is sensible to simply enjoy playing your organs it may be beneficial to start learning to read a bit more of the two stave or three stave kind.
 

Ian and Bev Harrison

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Re: No__55___Of interest to Seniors
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2013, 01:17:44 AM »
Must be getting old.  I hit the wrong key before I had finished so the above comment is unfinished.

Hugh makes a very valid point too when he points out that one must be comfortable when sitting at the organ.  Peter also obliquely refers to this problem when he suggests frequent rest or walk-about periods.   Part of the problem is caused by the average home organ, and the AR certainly comes into this, is not built with the ergonomics of the player in mind.   Pedals are rarely in the right relative position to the keyboards and stools are made to a price rather than for the benefit of the player. 

Peter makes a comment in his item about pedaling that you often hear Theater Organists sliding from one pedal to another or glissing from one note to the next but that is relatively easy on such organs as the pedals are built to AGO (American Guild Of Organists) standards with the pedals being in a radial spray pivoting from the back and are also concave (both on an 8' radius) which means that playing such pedals is a matter of simply flicking down your toe or heel rather than having to lift the whole leg and stamp down again which is required on the short pedals such as on the AR.

Peter also talks about past organists who have been still playing to a ripe old age.  Bit like anything I would suspect.  When you have played organs from early childhood and have done so every day for fifty or sixty years one's body is tuned up to that activity (bit like driving a car) and so it requires no strain to continue doing it.  Those who are starting late need to work up to this strange physical position and not stress their muscles too hard to begin with.   Bit like the joke about exercise where it is recommended that one starts trying to lift a potato sack in each hand.  Once you have done that a few times then put a potato in each sack.

Cheers

Ian

Hugh Wallington

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Re: No__55___Of interest to Seniors
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2013, 11:05:01 AM »
Oh dear oh dear.  Didn't insert the LINK in my posting above.

Peter, I'm approaching 70 too.  From the far side.  Maybe this is why I didn't insert that LINK.

I will remove this posting shortly .. if I remember to do it.

Hugh
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Peter Anderson

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Re: No__55___Of interest to Seniors
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2013, 01:41:22 PM »
When you said, "Read Here..." Hugh, I said, "Where?" .... but didn't understand, so put it down to my age!

Your above response makes sense now, Thank you.

Long may all we "old codgers" not only go on playing our AR's, but really enjoying doing so for many years to come.

Peter

Alan Lees

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Re: No__55___Of interest to Seniors
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2013, 04:42:22 PM »
I just wanted to say thanks for re-visiting the stool height issue as although I don't fall into the senior age group yet I get very bad backache when playing any electone as the stool height does seem wrong. I can play my wurlitzer all day and have no pain but that does have a full size pedalboard too, but you sit much higher and closer to the keyboards. 

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__55___Of interest to Seniors
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2013, 10:54:17 AM »
Just to remind you, I still think my simple modification, which is not permanent and does not affect or damage the stool directly in any way, is still a quick, cheap and solid way of increasing the AR stool height.   By making the blocks different widths (i.e. heights) you can 'adjust' the height to your precise preference.

You can view it directly in another window by clicking this link:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=667.msg1841#msg1841

Sorry.  This is not available to non-members.

Hugh posted this for me back in February 2008.

This particular posting is my 1000th.   Can that really be true?

Peter

Alan Lees

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Re: No__55___Of interest to Seniors
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2013, 11:00:15 AM »
I saw that mod, I may give it a try as it looks a good way to solve the issue without damaging the stool. I wondered if the configuration of the Yamaha's is caused by having to allow room to operate the knee lever. I also noticed on youtube videos of myself that when playing the AR I lean backwards noticeably as if I'm going to fall backwards... Which can't do me much good!

Ian and Bev Harrison

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Re: No__55___Of interest to Seniors
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2013, 12:36:34 AM »
Hi All,
The ergonomics of home organs has more to do with packing box size and making them fit through 2'6" doorways than human physiology.  Stools are often mass produced for both pianos and organs and shipped separately to the dealers who just grab one and include it in the sale.  So it is no surprise that they are often mis-matched.
Bev sits on a stool manufactured in Australia using an office chair air lift centre on a non-castered five way base topped by a piece of mdf padded with 2" of fairly firm foam and covered with a piece of black vinyl.  She can adjust the height to suit her and does so between using it at her keyboards or organ.   The stool provided with her piano happens to be the correct height even though it looks virtually identical to the one provided with the organ except it has a lifting lid.
If you find yourself leaning back Alan, then make a serious attempt to fix your stool, move it further away from the organ and raise it so that your feet fall naturally onto the pedals and the swell shoe.  Leaning back indicates your legs are too long for the stool height.
In passing I found that the pedals on the HX1 were so badly out of position that I had to engineer a set back arrangement to move the pedals back about 4" so that Bev could play them.  This was possible on the HX as the pedals were a separate clip on item and the connection was via a multi-pin  plug and socket with flexible leads.   
So please don't assume that Yamaha had you in mind when they made any of their instruments.  They are all made identical and we are not!
Cheers
Ian