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How to Start Organ Pedalling

Organ Pedalling

Want to start organ pedalling today? Read on to discover how to begin!

Find an Organ to Pedal!

You will need an organ to practice on and ideally often. Local churches will often welcome organ enthusiasts. Don’t feel pressured into having to play for a service. From a church perspective:

  • They pay a lot of money to maintain an organ, so they’d love to have it used!

  • You might not want to play the organ for services, but you might volunteer a short organ concert one day.

  • It’s part of their out-reach, engaging with the wider community.

Learn with a Simple Melody

Start with a 3 note melody and connect it with your ear via solfege. Hot Cross Buns is the perfect example, using Mi-Re-Do (M R D, M R D, DDDD RRRR, M R D), the first 3 notes of the scale descending from 3rd to 1st.

Develop Organ Pedalling Technique

  • Try to use your big toe to press the pedals

  • Slightly angle your foot outwards so that you play one pedal at a time

  • Play from the ankle rather than moving your entire leg.

  • Many organ teachers teach keeping knees together and some advocate tieing a scarf around your knees. This is so that you get used to sensing how far apart your feet are.

  • Start with the black notes and then explore other pedals.

Practice Playing the Organ Regularly

You should practice at least twice a week for 20 minutes each session. This will help you improve your technique and build muscle memory.

Transpose on the Organ

The Hot Cross Buns melody utilises two notes a tone apart. By playing in different keys you are learning your key signatures, developing your ear and changing your pedalling as you consider a different combination of white and black pedals.

Example keys for Hot Cross Buns Organ Pedal Technique

F# Major: All black notes A#-G#-F#. This requires you to consider how you are going to play 3 black pedals with 2 feet.

D Major: F#-E-D requires F# pedal to be played with the right toe, the E pedal with the right heel and the D pedal with the left foot. You are now learning to pivot at the ankle with the right foot in order to play the F# and E pedals.

Take Organ Lessons

There are several ways to learn organ playing.

(a) Take lessons with a teacher (Zoom or in-person).

(b) Utilise The Maestro Online library of online courses.

(c) Find a local organist association.

Use an Organ Pedal Method

There are various organ pedal methods on the market. The Maestro Online method includes videos demonstrating what you should be doing with your organ pedalling. You can see the right technique immediately. It takes you through short snippets of famous songs on the organ.

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