How to Read Organ Sheet Music

Brent Phillips

How to read organ sheet music and How to read piano sheet music are similar to reading for playing. Two instruments which read and interpret music are different because they look different. There is a heading on top of each piece and an added bass clef below at organ sheet music.

We're going to explain three points; differences you read and interpret between piano and organ sheet music, between piano and organ tone, and differences between different organs in their sheet music.

Differences between Piano and Organ Sheet Music.

 Reading sheet music for piano. - You don't have to worry about preset organ settings, or the usage of vibrato and percussion, or the lower pedal. You always read sheet music horizontally on the piano, and most of the time, there aren't chord references above the notes.

Reading sheet music for organ. - Reading organ music takes on the vertical approach while making quick hand adjustments on presets to get the right sounds or timbres to match the composition

Differences between Piano Tone and an Organ Tone vs. Organ Touch.

  • Key depression - In piano playing, loudness of tone is control by how much force is used by the fingers. On organ, tone is produced by just pressing down, otherwise, factors such as registration usage, and the position of the pedal make loud and soft .
  • Tone quality -Tone quality with piano quickly diminishes with key depression. On the other hand , organ tone maintains a steady duration until key release.

Differences in Makes and Models for Organ Sheet Music.

 Included-presets for each organ model for each piece in a collection folio were popular in the '60s. The Wurlitzer's, Hammonds, and pipe organs set-ups have differed for church, theater, and home. They had headers at the top with each organ model- including every preset and a diagram above and below. Key charts had vibrato, reverb, percussion, and timbre of instruments, mainly on Wurlitzer home organs. 

 Sheet music for the organ was written widely during the twenties when acting in silent films had no sound. The organ was used in movie theaters while the movie was running, and theater organs had the most presets. Music stores sold sheet music with headers mainly during the '30s to the late seventies. Reading organ sheet music kept the organist scanning constantly in each part to get a different sound, so reading organ music is more than reading piano music.






Read more →

How to Read Piano Sheet Music.

Brent Phillips
The way to read piano sheet music is to have a good conception of musical notation not just for the piano but for most instruments. To interpret any composition for performance like symphonies, the player has to have a background of violins, violas, string basses, and even percussion notations. The piano player is like a conductor who reads through scores. Everything is fine and good, but what does that have to do with the beginner player who does not know about reading piano sheet music.


 We're going to cover three essential principles to reading piano sheet music.

1. Basic Musical Notation.

All musical notations are symbols and not musical sounds; it takes a good teacher to explain their meanings. Musical symbols are:

  • The Staff -  basic forms are treble and bass clefs. 
  • Notes - denotes pitch on the staff.
  • Note lengths - whole, half, and quarter notes denote time.

2. Sight-reading Skills.

Understanding musical notations through the study of piano sheet music and method books trains both hands to react to tempo, change of key signature, and repeats. For example using, a metronome for one hand, treble or, bass clef, then putting them together for completion, makes the pianist aware of how reading sheet music is vital.

3.Understanding Chord Structures.

A sequence of notes with written chordal notation gives the jazz pianist a map of the melody he plays. Along with sight-reading skills, a pianist knows with practice about the harmony he produces by chord structures all harmonic relations by sequencing form similar patterns. An example would be I(C)(IV(F)V(G) in the C major scale preceding the end of a melody, and references to this would be scorebooks such as; Norton Scores and Improvising Jazz by Jerry Coker.

We have looked at the essential principles for reading piano sheet music. Still, constant practicing major and minor scales, along with modal scales, will do you no good unless you start slow and simple in sight-reading with a metronome and understanding musical notation.

Read more →