An exciting month for Rosemary

It seems like everything happens at one time.  Ironically, the month of June is usually not the busiest time of the year for me.  I guess all the normal ground rules are off in today’s world.  With the exception of certain “snow bird markets”…namely some Florida, Arizona, New Mexico areas…the organ retail business seems to be buzzing.  Amazing!  Part of this is due to folks choosing to partake in home activities.  This includes finally learning to play an instrument.  Frankly, the satisfaction of pursuing any solo instrument, especially keyboard or guitar, is quite gratifying.  To accomplish this, manufacturers have integrated an array of helpful features to get you going including automatic chords and bass notes.  Is utilizing these a form of cheating?  Of course it is!  But who cares as long as music achievement arrives quicker and sounds better.  At least, that’s my opinion.
But back to this month’s schedule.  Next week will be the launch of the “Volare” seminar program we’ve discussed previously.  I’ll be off to Santa Rosa and San Jose, CA, for four days presenting creative ideas for interesting arrangements to groups of folks currently at the intermediate to advanced playing level.  We have 15-20 people registered for both two-day sessions.  I can’t wait to begin the tour.  Although I plan on keeping the presentations somewhat informal (that’s just the way I am), people will definitely take with them a multitude of meaningful information that will guide them through the hoops to enhanced performance capability.  In addition to listening and learning from my personal instruction, everyone is given a packet to take home that provides the essence of the sessions.  Along with that is an audio CD prepared by me which coincides with the written data.  So the participants will be provided with long-term remembrance of the “Volare” experience. 
I believe in the “Volare” concept and know that those choosing to attend will gain substantial musical knowledge plus various practical techniques from the short course.  Since the introduction of comprehensive keyboard instruments in the ’90s, the player has had the advantage of extracting the sounds and effects that suit their preference and style.  One has but to look in the owner’s manual to realize the procedure involved in retrieving these.  HOWEVER, now that the organist has found out how to register their favorite features, what would be the logical  application for them?  In other words,  what is the players’ responsibility in making this new-found instrumentation work for them?  How does the musician decide which effect or feature would complement the mood of the song?  Which sustain, ambiance, vibrato, etc. options are necessary to complete the atmosphere of the effect?  Some of the realism can be attributed strictly to the tone itself.  But the player must supplement that by using appropriate technique, touch, strike force, etc., that complete the intent of the sound sample.  Roland provides the tools necessary for a  beautiful musical rendition.  It is up to the artist to creatively apply these sounds and effects to their playing in a knowledgeable, confident, personal way.  In other words, the technology is captured in the instrument.  It’s up to the player to learn to manipulate, apply and personalize it.  This can be a bit challenging for some unless they are coached on how to achieve their goal of performing at a higher level of playing and arranging.  Fortunately, this is also the core concept of the “Volare” program.
More to come….          
See ya soon
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Where am I?

June 8th and 9th….the initial Volare event in Santa Rosa, CA.  This is an intensive seminar for intermediate to advanced organists who are ready and eager to improve their skills.  I have created and marketed a program that I know will be of value to people whose playing has become a bit stale and stagnant.  It’s easy for this to happen, especially when the musician has fallen into the trap of simply learning new songs…not new techniques.  A great artist will never stop growing their craft.

Sometimes even I might drift into a period of complacency which might show up in my performance.  However, I always have had some sort of engagement to prepare for that involves a crossover of the same folks attending.  Consequently, it behooves me to constantly think of either new songs to play or new arrangements of something I already know.  Sometimes the instrument itself (the Roland Atelier) gives me the incentive to create interesting effects and sounds that are the inspiration for the arrangement.  This kind of reverse engineering….finding new sounds/rhythms….lends itself to composing an innovative rendition.

I remember some years ago when the Scat Voices appeared on the console.  You may associate this sound with the late Ella Fitzgerald who used your incredible voice as an instrument.  If you recall, many times within the song she was performing, she’d forgo singing the lyrics and go off on a totally ad lib melody vocally simulating trumpets, trombones, flutes, etc.  In the case of the Atelier, this effect is made possible through the use of a feature called “initial touch”.  This allows the player to depress the key at various pressure levels, each one activating a different phase of the effect.  For example, when I use scat voices, the softest sound will be “doo”…if I press a tad harder, the vocal sound becomes “doot”, then “dat”, “bap”, and finally “bow”.  The result is the organist, simply by depressing the key with varying pressure can simulate a scat style.  This is exciting, fun stuff!

But back to the Volare learning system…..Immediately after I have completed the Santa Rosa event, I’ll be going to San Jose to again perform the Volare seminar on June 10th and 11th.  I’ll be home for a day and then off to Portland, OR to perform at the national dealer meeting at Rodgers Instrument Inc.  , a part of the Roland Corporation  group of companies.  I’m not quite sure what my role will be for this commitment on June 15th.  I’ll have to wait until the prior rehearsal day to get direction on that.  Fortunately, all I have to bring with me to prepare are my ten fingers, two feet and perhaps my personal registrations which are stored on a thumb drive.  Rodgers specializes in producing organs for the institutional market.  However, due to their tremendous manufacturing facility,  Roland consoles are assembled there as well.

Then, on the 20th, I’ll be off to Lancaster, PA. to perform at the Dutchland Organ Festival for two days.  This is an annual event which is held at a resort in the area.  There will be some 150 folks attending who love good organ music and also learning from the artists some of the techniques we like to use.  I always have a great time at this festival.

I hope my dog remembers who I am after all this time away!

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See you somewhere soon.


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American Theatre Organ Society

I am so looking forward to the American Theatre Organ Society National Convention being held on the weekend of July 4th in Providence, R.I.!  An array of artists will be concertizing at various venues in the surrounding the area.  Performers will appear on huge theatre pipe organs at venues including the Hanover Theatre, Stadium Theatre, Zeiterion Theatre, etc.  Wonderful music, enlightening seminars and great fun will all combine to create a festival like no other.  My role at the show is somewhat multi-faceted.  Although theatre organ styling is one of my mainstays since childhood days, I am now in love with the replication of that beautiful sound on the digital organ….namely, the Roland Atelier.  Mr. Bob Evans, convention chairman, has graciously asked me to provide several workshops featuring the Roland Atelier organ.  In times past, this notion was thought of as downright sacrilegious!  But now, it is a welcome part of the event. 
The reasoning behind this evolution lies mostly in the fantastic quality of today’s digital theatre organ registrations.  The excitement increases when these sounds are coupled with appropriate touch response options offered on the Atelier.  This means that when you’re playing the instrument, a pivotal part of the realism called “second touch” is activated.  Picture the organist depressing the keys and hearing notes whose tones have been pre-set.  Then, the same keys are pressed down a little harder to a deeper level.  An entirely different sound is now heard.  It’s like magically adding another manual to the console!  Naturally, on the theatre organ this is accomplished by way of the relay system going from the organ up to the chambers housing the pipes which directs the sound change.  On the Roland though, this is done through the sophistication of its electronics.  The result is virtually the same.  This combined with “vaudeville theater” ambiance makes for an orchestral effect reminiscent of the ’20s but in fact played on a contemporary digital instrument.
F.Y.I……Did you know that the digital organ can be set up to actually operate in a de-tuned mode?  What???  Why???  Don’t be too shocked.  This is because some pipe organ installations due to disuse, age or disrepair fall into a condition whereby the music comes forth as not being completely in tune. As you may know, organs using pipes for tone generation are constantly susceptible to damage due to climatic conditions or general deterioration.  Roland has built in the option of purposely throwing the organ a bit out-of-tune.  This is intended strictly for purists (like myself) who desire to create as realistic an effect as humanly possible.  The de-tuning idea can also be applied to other effects like the calliope, honky-tonk piano, bagpipes and a variety of Asian wind instruments.
Please visit my website for more information on the event.
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Volare!  It’s more than a song title from the ’60s.  Now it’s also a music learning program!  Actually, the name came to me after thinking about the intent and substance of the program I’ve created.  You know, after traveling for so many years as part of the promotional aspect of major organ manufacturers, I realize there are a number of amateur and semi-professional musicians out there who are looking to improve their skills.  Some of them want to enhance their playing ability…give it a fresh feel.  Others seem to want genuine revision to what they have been playing for many years.  But everyone has one thing in common.  They seek an avenue, a game plan, that will make their music sound better.  For most musicians, including me, this desire in never-ending.
Soon I will be departing for northern CA to begin the Volare seminar tour.  We begin in Santa Rosa on June 8+9, then San Jose on the 10+11.  The data that will be covered is meant to enhance one’s performance capability through expanding knowledge of harmonic and melodic techniques making them sound more advanced.  Also being presented will be extra playing tips I’ve acquired through the years which will be passed on to the participants.  Plus, I promise the interaction between the attendees will be a lot of fun!
The beauty of Volare is that regardless of whether you are playing Pipe Organ, Theatre Organ, an older manual organ, electric organ or a new state of the art digital organ, you will benefit from the knowledge you gain from this program.  We even anticipate members of the American Theatre Organ Society, ATOS to be in attendance at some of the seminars.
After completing the west coast engagements, the Volare tour progresses to other locations throughout the U.S.  If you’re interested in knowing more, please e-mail me at  I’d love to hear from you.  In the meantime, visit my website at
Bye for now…..Rosemary
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