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I only get about an hour-and-a-half's access per week to practice on a 'real' organ.

Needless to say, my progress at pedalling is painfully slow.

Are there any ways to practice pedalling without the pedals (I used to practice touch-typing by shutting my eyes and just imaging)? And if not, is there a way to make my practice sessions more productive?

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3 Answers 3

Don't know where you live, but here in U.K. the old style of organ (2 manuals, pedals), come along on occasions for little money. I bought one for £10 sterling, just for the pedalboard (although the 2 12" speakers were a nice bonus). If you can find room, this is a good option, as pretending won't tell you when you've hit a wrong note. There may only be one octave of pedals, rather than two, and they'll be parallel, not radial, but that's got to be better than none. To practise an instrument and improve, every day is the way to go.Even if it goes in the garage, bedroom, whatever, it's better than the once a week you're doing.

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Haven't got much room, but I admit I turned down an old electric organ recently because it only had one octave and parallel pedals, as you say. Interesting that you think it's better than nothing, and yes, every day would be good... – Benjol Mar 6 '14 at 9:58
How can it be anything except better than nothing ? The facility is there, and even parallel pedals will get your feet relatively accurate. – Tim Mar 6 '14 at 10:13

I find that moving my feet as if there were a pedal board, when practicing on a piano, for example, helps. It engages the learning centre of the brain - not as much as if you had the real thing, but better than not.

Playing the Organ is hard - it will take a long time to get proficiant. Have you got pedal exercises to do? working through them will teach your legs different pedaling techniques, and increase your accuracy.

Are there any other churches/organs in the area that you can get some practice at? Many churches are more than happy to let people practice on the organ.

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Yes, I've tried doing the moving my feet thing too, I guess that helps for the coordination, which is maybe the hardest bit. But it doesn't tell you if you've hit the wrong note :) – Benjol Mar 6 '14 at 10:56

The cheapest solution.

Take a cardboard. Draw the keys on it (of the original size). At least, You can be confident with coordination.

I used this method (however, for hands), when I needed practicing piano pieces written for the grand piano on my upright piano (which doesn't have some keys at the top). That's enough for studying a piece on the first stages, but anyway You have to practice in the real environment, especially the closer the concert / competition is to take place. Actually that is sufficient even to become a laureate of the competition, if You really desire (written from my personal experience).

Just a side note: Sergei Rachmaninoff used "silent" keyboard ("немая" клавиатура) during traveling.

The Cardboard Piano:

Perkins's "cardboard piano" derives from an incident (...) about the celebrated composer Sergei Rachmaninoff who practiced on a silent piano while crossing the Atlantic.

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