Helpful Hints for the Organist/Choir Conductor

Here's an idea to help all of you who might be doing "double-duty" at your church as both choir director and organist. Arguably, the best approach to these situations is thorough rehearsals that make sure the choir needs as little conducting as possible. However, many volunteer choirs will feel reassured by a little "hand waving" from time to time. Under those circumstances, it's difficult to play the music, conduct the choir and change registration, all at the same time. Many Allen organs are equipped with Programmable Crescendos that can be a lifesaver on these occasions.

The Programmable Crescendo has 22 steps. When used as a Crescendo, each step adds one or two new stops, allowing the organist to program the Crescendo Pedal to gradually build from pianissimo to full organ using his or her preferences. However, the Crescendo Pedal can also be used to help register an anthem in a way that's easier than finding a piston or toe stud while your attention is divided between playing and conducting.

To use the Crescendo Pedal in this way, you'll program several steps of the Crescendo with the same registration. Although this may sound counterintuitive, here's how it works. Many anthems will require three or four registrations. For our example, let's assume the anthem requires three. Program the first registration as the first, second, third and fourth steps of the Crescendo. Next, program the second anthem registration as steps five through twenty. Last, program the final registration as the final two steps of the Crescendo. (For help on Crescendo programming, consult the Console Controller Guide that came with your Allen organ, or contact your local Allen Organ Dealer.)

Now, how does this programming make life easier? Well, when you're ready to perform the anthem, rest your right foot on the Crescendo pedal. (Remember to hit the Cancel piston first to make sure there are no other stops registered on the organ.) Open the Crescendo pedal slightly. Since the first four steps of the Crescendo are programmed with the same registration, the exact position of the pedal is not crucial. To access the second registration of the anthem, depress the Crescendo pedal to anywhere in the middle of the range. Remember, Crescendo steps five through twenty are all the same, so the exact position of the pedal doesn't matter. When it's time for the last registration, open the Crescendo all the way.

We hope you enjoy this little performance tip. We'd also be interested in learning other ways in which you've found the features of your Allen organ make life easier for church musicians. If you have an idea you'd like to share, send us an e-mail at: Allen Organ Company and we'll consider including your tips in future issues of this newsletter. Happy conducting, playing and registering! And, remember, smile while you're at it!