I feel quite comfortable doing piano improvisations, but I am very limited when talking about the organ improvisations.

Specifically, talking about the left hand, on the piano I can do the specific movements on the chord notes (e.g. for C major, I'd do C - G – E, C — G — D etc), but I don't know how to do that on the organ, since that won't sound very good on the organ. Would 8s/16s arpeggios be a solution for the organ?

Are there any specific techniques to use my piano improvisation experience for organ?

I saw some nice tutorials recommending, in case of chorals, playing the solo with the right hand on a manual, and making a counter melody with the left hand on another manual, and adding the bass. I am not an expert in building counter melodies, but while I can build them, I find it difficult to play the soprano with the counter melody in the same time. Could it be that my left hand is not trained yet to play melodies? I find it difficult to play solo with the left hand anyways.

1 Answer 1


Avoid multi-octave arpeggios, because they need help from the damper pedal, which almost all organs lack.

Avoid left-hand broken-chord noodling (Alberti Bass), because piano needs that to sustain loudness for a long duration, while organ just holds the chord. (Old joke: Why do organists play such long notes? Because they can!)

So just play solid chords with the left hand, melody with the right, pedals at whatever level of technique you have (e.g., left foot on C, right on G, don't dare to move).

Improvise not in texture and countermelodies, but in registration, octaves, manuals, modulation, tempo (triple instead of duple time), syncopated chord changes, etc. Let the organ's strengths do the hard work for you.

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