"Self Taught" - An Organ Tutor by Adrian Self

Adrian Self has published two volumes entitled "Self Taught", based on the CSO scheme. These are available from Animus, 4 Rawlinson Street, Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA15 8AL, www.animus.org.uk. The following review by Ivor H Jones (Church Times, 20 October 1995) refers to volume 1...

Adrian Self has put together a collection called "Self Taught: Music, Help and Ideas for the Amateur Organist".

The preface indicates the realism of the author: "The reluctant organist is now a well-established character in the fabric of so many rural communities, but what of the 'reluctant organ'? So many were built as little more than hymn-machines, but with a little imagination and judicious use of the limited resources at his or her disposal, even the most miserable organs can be persuaded to be rather less reluctant."

A section on practising follows with a wealth of sound common sense, beginning with "Start away from the organ" and "Practise with the motor switched off." Some may not like the author's insistence on respecting the composer's intentions, but to help everyone who uses the book to do just that, Adrian Self provides each piece with a well-informed page of comment. These pieces are ideal for the purpose and lead to advice on where to look for additional similar material. Sometimes the material is set out for two manuals so that different colours can be used even on the smallest two manual, sometimes the pieces are designed for one manual use only.

One of the excellent features of the book is the choice of pieces which enables an organist to produce a variety of different styles and effects from very small resources. His choice of Samuel Wesley's Voluntary in C illustrates the point with its three distinctive sections and moods. Pedals are introduced carefully and helpfully, with each item in the book providing a potential service piece. Even the tercentenary of Merkel is not overlooked and Merkel's Evening Hymn is produced in a very fine editorial form.

Finally there is a section on repertoire and on accompaniment with advice which includes this sobering thought: "Don't sing at the same time as you are playing - you will end up accompanying only yourself." Altogether this serves its limited purpose admirably. Anyone working on a small organ will find the information, the tips and the music well worth having.

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