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Fundamental Tips  for Organ Accompanists
Compiled by W. Herbert Klopfer

  • Follow the music director
  • Place your music on the organ in line of vision of the music director
  •  Accompany congregational singing by playing both hands on the same manual
  • Play only manuals if playing the pedals is a problem for you
  • Play exactly what is written on the page. If you cannot read music notation, you should generally not accompany on the organ
  • Do not change harmony if the congregation sings in parts. Free accompaniments are permissible when the congregation sings the melody in unison and has been instructed to do so
  • Musical ornamentation must be restricted to passing tones that do not affect the written harmonic structure
  • Communicate with the music director ahead of performance on all detail matters pertaining to the assignment, i.e. how many verses, interludes between verses, tempo, volume, proper rhythm, etc
  • Practice privately during the week for every assignment until you can play each musical selection without a mistake
  • If you cannot play a certain hymn, talk with the music director for a possible change to a hymn you can play
  • Use key changes between verses only if you are totally sure of yourself and can play transitions smoothly
  • Cultivate good organ playing techniques in your hands and feet
  • Choose proper registration. 8' principal stops are the foundation. If you do not understand principles of registration, ask someone who knows
Three Long-Term Challenges:
  1. Learn to play all hymns in the current hymnbook as written
  2. Learn to play several hymns singling out the melody played on one manual and the accompaniment on the other manual
  3. Learn to play a few hymns in several keys
Basic Principles of Organ Registration
Stops of the principal (diapason) family are generally preferred for hymn registrations. A clear flute stop may be used as a softer alternative.

Hymn registrations are built upwards from a foundation of 8' pitch on the manuals and 16' pitch in the pedals

  • Generally, only one stop should be used at each pitch level for the highest degree of clarity
  • Avoid skipping pitches in building up a hymn registration
  • Reed stops may be added to climactic verses
  • Do not use celestas or tremulants in hymn accompaniments
  • Changes in registration are best made between musical phrases and hymn verses