Mini Course: The Story of the Pipe Organ

It’s the story of one of the oldest instruments and, until relatively recently, the mankind’s most complex machine. A great printable lesson is available. No previous music is needed for this unit study. A complete lesson plan is provided. Videos provide additional audio and visual support for the lesson and required to complete some of…

Mini-Course: How Do Organ Pipes Work?

“Why are there so many pipes?” “But how come you sit over here and the sound comes out over there?” “Why are those pipes so big?” “Why are those pipes so tiny?” “Why are some of the pipes made from metal and others are made from wood?” “How long do pipes last?” Right after the…

1912 M.P. Moller, Avon Federated Church, Avon, Illinois

The first settlers in Avon, Illinois, arrived in 1835. In just twenty years, the area grew enough to have a post office, changed its name twice, saw the building of a branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (CB&Q) and formed several churches. Among those fellowships were a Universalist Church and a Congregational Church….

The Notre-Dame Cathedral Paris Pipe Organ

The world watched in frozen horror as news broadcasts showed a fire blazing through the Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15, 2019. The fate of the historic building and its contents hung in the balance. The damage was extensive, yet somehow, miraculously even, some things survived. Among the remaining treasures in the cathedral is the…

1901 Hinners & Albertsen, First United Presbyterian, Knoxville, Illinois

Standing proudly in the small town of Knoxville, Illinois, is First United Presbyterian Church.  Founded in 1835, the congregation made their church home in other locations before erecting the current structure and moving into it, debt free, in 1899.   The Hinners & Albertsen organ was installed in 1901. Hinners Organ Perfection Manufactury was founded by John…

The Eyes Have It

Are you a multi-tasker?  You certainly are when reading music while playing the piano.  Let’s take a look <insert knee slap>  at what your eyes are doing.    Are you supposed to watch the music?  Or your hands?  Or some of each?  Are you getting dizzy from nodding your head back and forth between the…

"Let the Lower Lights Be Burning"

Philip Bliss, who wrote both the text and tune for this hymn, and his 19th century contemporary, Ira Sankey, are credited with founding the gospel song movement.  Both were part of the Dwight L. Moody evangelistic team, and both sang, led crusade singing, and authored many gospel songs.  Bliss was inspired to write this hymn…

February 16, 1848: Chopin’s Final Concert

Born in the Duchy of Warsaw (present-day Poland) and raised in Warsaw, Frederick Chopin (1810-1849) settled in Paris by the time he was 21 years old.  His musical compositions are primarily for solo piano and remain among the most popular selections for students, artists, and audiences.  While admired for his technical virtuosity at the piano, he was generally…

Join the Ranks!

Combining my interest in history with performing on a magnificent organ seemed like a great idea, so when Mike Hobbs, from the Civil War Round Table, asked me to provide a program for them I quickly agreed.  I had absolutely no idea, however, how this event would grow…and grow…and grow over the next days and…

Counting Aloud

Sometimes we run across some wisdom gem or quote or insight that we just have to share with everyone else.  It is especially exciting when that gem happens to back up something we believe and have tried to convey to others, as in,”See?  I TOLD you so!” If you have ever ‘liked,’ ‘shared’ or ‘retweeted’…

Selecting a Portable Keyboard

There are so many wonderful keyboards and digital pianos on the market that to choose one can feel overwhelming.  The question is really, “What kind of keyboard do I need to begin piano studies?” In an ideal world, we would all have pianos with 88 weighted keys. While the debate between preferring acoustic or digital/electronic…

"The Light of the World Is Jesus"

Philip P. Bliss (1838-1876) was one of the five children born to John and Lydia Bliss.  Their log home, typical of the early settlers of northern Pennsylvania, was filled with love and Christian teaching, but formal education was scarce.  Early in life, Philip developed a passion for learning and for music, and took advantage of…