RGAN IMPROVISATION is on the mind of many organists these days as they cope in the absence of choirs and other musicians. To that end I would like to offer the work of German born organist Ronny Krippner, now of Croydon Minster (London). His doctoral studies focused on the improvisation methods of English organists (historical and modern) and he has produced a number of fine videos entitled Ex tempore: The Art of Organ Improvisation in England. In addition to these wonderful short videos he has a helpful series of articles on his website meant to aid organists as they navigate each style.
Let me be clear, I don’t hold the English Voluntary as the ultimate exemplar or pinnacle of organ improvisation, nevertheless, it and many other styles are extremely beautiful and serviceable and they lend themselves well to the novice (and not so novice), more so than contrupuntal improvisation.
Krippner’s Improvisation Aids
(from his personal website)
When a young child comes up and shyly watches you playing your postlude, do you invite him to try push down a few keys when you are finished or do you just close up shop? Do you pull out the trumpet stop and tell him to press down the lowest pedal note and hold it? Do you tell him to try out the swell pedal and watch as the shades open and close? When you ask him if he wants to run his fingers over the keys and instead he plays the first few notes of Für Elise to hear what it sounds like, do you immediately chide him for playing secular music in church or do you ask God to understand that it is one of His little ones excitedly trying out the big “piano” in church? Do you offer to teach organ playing to children in your parish who possess a decent piano proficiency? (By the way, there is nothing wrong with requiring remuneration for this.)
If mothers and fathers stopped having children, family life would die in one generation. What will you do to keep the art of organ playing alive?