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How much practice does it take to learn to play the organ?

Your question is a common one which may bear an unexpected answer. A world famous pianist, was once asked how often he practiced. His answer: "If I miss practice for 3 days my fans can tell. If I miss practice for 2 days my critics can tell. But if I miss practice for 1 day, I can tell." The point of his statement to the press was to show that his reaching for perfection is directly proportional to the amount of work that he was willing to invest. Even an advanced player as he, if asked the question, "How long does it take to learn to play?" would probably answer, "I'm still learning".

At first this may seem like a discouraging statement, but on the contrary, it is a wonderfully exciting statement. To think that even the greatest of the musicians are still working toward their goals demonstrates that a musical career offers a never-ending expansion of knowledge and exploration with centuries of beautiful, fantastic music to explore. Each piece learned is likened to a mountain climber reaching to the summit of yet another mountain peak. An exuberant, satisfying experience with each conquest!

So to answer your question, I will have to say that I myself am still learning and am loving every moment of it. Certainly it takes real work to learn the basics much like learning to ride a bicycle, but once you understand the basic concepts, you are off to discovering a wonderful world indeed. If you are already acquainted with the keyboard, then learning the basics to start playing the organ is just a matter of months depending upon your access to a good practice instrument, how well you and your teacher "connect" and how motivated you are in general to learn. In my college organ classes, there were always several students who went on to be professional church organists, some in two years time. None of them were necessarily blessed with a particular music talent, but they all shared the enthusiasm to study some of the most beautiful music on earth on what has been called "The King of Instruments" and be able to share this beauty with others.