You’ll never guess who my newest organ student is. Why, it’s Pastor Jeff Lilley who approached me about lessons a few weeks ago! Like my other students, from age four to eighty-four, I’ve started him with Discover the Basics, a series by Wayne Leupold, a comprehensive method of teaching music reading, rhythm, theory, technique and even organ registration.
Pastor Jeff has an incredible ear for music, but long ago, relied upon his ear instead of learning how to read musical notation. Carl Crosier used to always say to people like Jeff, “Do yourself a favor. Take the time to learn musical notation and the world will be the better for it.” I do believe we are making progress!
Here are some of the words of wisdom I have given him (as well as my other students)
“It is better to spend 5-10 minutes a day practicing rather than try to cram it all in one or two days.”
“Do you brush your teeth every day? Then you need to practice every day.”
“You need to know the notes of the staff from memory, just like the multiplication tables.”
We found Pastor Jeff a simple flash card application for his iPad (Piano Monkey) which reinforces note-reading away from the keyboard.
Do you remember our LCH intern, Josh Graber? I gave him lessons from the same series, and I’ll never forget the day I came into the church, and found Josh accompanying on the organ for our former interim pastor, Steve Jensen (who is a good musician!)
By the way, I think my oldest student was the late Eloise Hayes, who was in her 90s when she died. She had two hip replacements but didn’t let that stop her from learning how to play the organ. I am happy to say that she indeed made progress, and I was especially pleased when, after the age of 85, she was able to make real music on the instrument, overcoming technical obstacles and making music expressive.
It all goes to show you that it’s never too late to learn!