Getting 'Organ'ized

My story, as told by brian

Going back to the age of six, I’ve loved the pipe organ. My grandmother wanted me to take piano lessons, but even at that age I knew I wanted to play the organ. Mom was a church secretary when a family bought the church a new electronic organ. The previous organ, a Thomas Model 800, was moved to the church fellowship hall. I’d go to work with mom and promptly make my way to the old organ and play, play, play. I couldn’t reach the pedals, but I liked the sound. The church agreed to sell the organ to my parents, and mom and dad worked hard to raise the $500 to purchase it—a lot of money in 1973.

Fast forward to college and a problem with the recital hall pipe organ, the day before a guest recital. My professor called the organ serviceman and asked me if I could assist him, at 5:00 A.M. on a Saturday morning. (That I agreed to help at that hour—as a college freshman—is evidence of the dedication I have to the organ!) It would be a day that changed my life.

I’d peeked inside the organ chambers before, but really had not had much opportunity to explore just how the organ worked. The technician asked me to climb up the ladders to the great division where he was working, and WOW…. Thousands of pipes! Blowers, reservoirs, shutters, more pipes. Dust. A Zimbelstern. I was hooked. I wanted to learn everything I could. I started reading every book on organ building, working with the technician on weekends (for free), and helping out with other pipe organ technicians I met.

After he retired from the organ company full time, with nearly 50 years in the industry, the man I originally worked with took me on as an apprentice. I learned how to build windchests, wire magnets, tune, voice, re-leather, regulate, add ranks, troubleshoot dead notes, and even how to install and regulate new keyboards. For nearly a dozen years we worked on many projects together as I learned the art and craft, taking on bigger and bigger projects.

That passion that drove me to run down the stairs to the old vacuum tube organ at the church and that was with me waking up at 4:30 am to work on an organ drives me still today. I have a passion for the pipe organ-- to keep them playing and sounding their very best at all times. I love being in church buildings, seeing how it all works together, and making sure that the organ—be it new or old—is ready to go every Sunday, for church, and every other day for weddings, funerals, recitals, and practice.

Call me. Let’s get together and I’ll see how I can help you. No matter what your role—organist, trustee, pastor—I will do all I can to make your instrument sound its best every day.