BYU-Idaho offers students many opportunities to learn the organ. Student organists develop their skills as they practice and perform on many fine instruments for recitals, choirs, instrumental ensembles, and campus devotionals.
Students may study organ as part of the group organ class (Music 106) or enroll in private organ lessons for credit. There are two options for private organ lessons (known as “applied instruction”):
- Enroll in Music 158B for individual instruction in organ as a non-music major. (This course can also be part of a music cluster or music minor with an emphasis in organ).
- Enroll in Music 160B (and above) as part of a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Musical Arts (BMA) or Bachelor of Music (BM) degree with a major in Organ.
Scholarship assistance is available. Please contact Dr. Daniel Kerr with any additional questions.
Student performance opportunities include:
- Providing music for the weekly Devotionals in the BYU-Idaho Center
- Student organ recitals held throughout each semester
- Performances with various vocal and instrumental ensembles
- Providing music at graduation ceremonies, new student convocations, etc.
- Semester projects (Organ Festival, Hymn Festival, Study travel tours of instruments)
In addition, the organ faculty and outside artists present recitals and masterclasses throughout the year.
The campus is home to four fine pipe organs:
- A four-manual, 67-rank Ruffatti organ in the Barrus Concert Hall of the Snow Performing Arts Center.
- A three-manual, 24 rank Wicks organ in the Rexburg YSA First Stake Center.
- A three manual, 9-rank Rodgers organ in Taylor Chapel.
- A one-manual, 3-rank Bigelow continuo organ for use with early music ensembles.
- A two-manual, 6-rank Bigelow practice organ
Additional electronic instruments are located in the BYU-Idaho Center, Hart Auditorium, Hinckley Chapel, the teaching studio, and four additional practice rooms
Organ majors (like most music majors) are required to participate in an ensemble each semester (eight credits total). Usually organists participate in a choral ensemble (in fact, at least 4 credits of choral ensembles are required for organ majors). However, if the student is proficient in an orchestral or band instrument, some of the ensemble credits can be earned in instrumental ensembles. Organ majors should follow audition information for the ensemble they wish to join (singing for the choral faculty or playing for the instrumental faculty). Some ensembles (both choral and instrumental) are non-auditioned; if you desire to participate in one of these, simply sign up and then attend the first day of class.
Organ students do have opportunities to accompany choirs on the organ. However, these opportunities are assigned on an as-needed basis during the semester. There are very few opportunities to earn ensemble credit by playing the organ in the ensemble. These are limited to accompanying a choral ensemble (as rehearsal pianist, with some organ accompaniment) or playing keyboard for the Baroque Ensemble (harpsichord and organ). Students interested in these options should speak directly with Dr. Kerr and then the specific ensemble director to determine the possibility of participating in these ensembles at the keyboard for credit.
Auditions for admission (and scholarship, if applicable) may be played at any time on campus by making arrangements with Dr. Kerr. If distance precludes a campus visit, then the audition may be submitted by DVD or You Tube link. Be sure that the video shows both the organ keyboards as well as the pedalboard.
The audition for Admission should include the following elements:
- Play an organ work of J. S. Bach, a work from another period, and a hymn.
- At the piano, play one major and one minor scale in parallel motion (four octaves) and contrary motion (two octaves) in sixteenth notes; quarter note = 80.
- Students with no organ background but strong piano skills can be considered for admission to an organ major by performing a keyboard work of J.S. Bach and a significant work from another period on the piano.
The audition for Scholarship should include the following elements:
- Play a larger-scale organ work of J. S. Bach (for instance, other than the so-called Eight Little Preludes and Fugues) or a large scale Bach chorale, a significant work (or movement of a larger work) from the standard organ repertoire from the 19th or 20th centuries, and a hymn.
- At the piano, play one major and one minor scale in parallel motion (four octaves) and contrary motion (two octaves) in sixteenth notes; quarter note = 92.