Meeting Up with Cindy’s group

Last Tuesday was very special for me.  I met with some ten hobbyist organists who were ready for another dose of Volare input.  For those of you not aware of what I’m referring to, Volare is my teaching program designed for amateur organs and keyboard players.  I explain the premise of the course on my web site,  One of my biggest proponents in this effort is a woman associated with the music industry by the name of Cindy Soriano.  It is through her efforts and encouragement that this week’s event took place.

It seems that there are some folks out there that consider even elementary bits of information inspiring.  They crave the acquisition of musical skills on an ongoing basis.  This is a good thing!  After all, learning music is a never-ending sport, right?  So we all convened and discussed the importance of building beautiful and logical medleys of tunes.  The first question asked of me by Marjorie had to do with my opinion about the length of an average medley of songs.  I shared this anecdotal story:

A number of years ago, a friend of mine accompanied me to a concert given by an artist whom we both knew.  It was quite enjoyable but lengthy…to say the very least.  I recall the plan for the artist’s musical arrangement.  She announced her medley to be a “musical journey across the great United States of America”.  And it was!  The medley started with a melody reminiscent of San Francisco and was to end in up in New York….a wonderful concept.  The only problem was that after almost one hour, the audience we still in Kansas City!  The moral of the story was that too much of a good thing can turn out to be counterproductive after a while.

So, I guess the moral of my story for you players out there is to keep your songs combinations entertaining, yet succinct.  In my opinion, a maximum of five tunes is sufficient for any medley content.  It can be fun to plan out these things but please pay respect to those who are the listeners.  My analogy is that as wonderful as premium chocolate ice cream is, too much of it can make you feel a bit uncomfortable after awhile.

Look for the March Song of the Month to be posted in a week or so.  Last month’s winner, Lois Phagan from Florida solved the dilemma of identifying the melody.  It turned out to be a tough one to solve…..sorry about that.  But please remember that each song posted on my web site has pertinence to the month itself.  I’ll give you one clue to the correct answer of the upcoming song……it definitely WON’T be a march.

Of course, as always, if you are interested in pipe organ, theatre organ or home organ, please feel free to visit my website at and see whats going on with Volare and Pearl.




posted by Ric Overton of


“Longer Days…..Hooray!

“Longer Days…..Hooray!
I’ve never really been a morning person, that is until about five years ago.  I don’t know what happened but I found myself rising earlier and earlier all of a sudden.  I guess the key is to curtail late night television watching.  I finally realized that staying up until 3:00 A.M., fighting sleep (and sometimes caving in to the temptation), was sort of stupid.  Most of the time I didn’t even recall what I had been watching the night before.
So this morning when I first began to wake up about 5:30, I realized the days were becoming longer again!  I like this!  Most of the time, I ly in bed for a few minutes planning my day’s strategy.  Seems like the minute I get up, the real world sets in complete with its obligations and distractions.  Strangely enough, even the animals acclimate to the change.  My golden retriever was up and ready to go when I was as were the birds.  There’s one large crow that noisily pecks at the skylight in our living room every morning.  Hope he doesn’t break it…it’s tough to sue a bird for damages.
So today’s plan is to complete the details of an abbreviated Volare course which I am presenting this Tuesday.  If you recall, Volare is my learning seminar that shows amateur keyboard players some of the secrets to musical success.  You can read more about this on my web site  There’s lots of things that are not really that difficult to incorporate into your playing…if you know how to do it.  I’ve been asked to talk a bit about techniques in creating medleys.  Great subject.  Apparently each one of these musicians have a few tunes they’ve learned to play but have no conduit to connect them into medley form.  A few of the ideas we’ll be discussing have to do with chord transformations, chromatic fill-ins, rhythm introductions, etc.  Some of this type of thing comes naturally to me….or maybe I just listen to a lot to various styles of music throughout the day….jazz, theatre organ, show tunes, whatever.  Once in a while I find myself inserting a musical passage into an arrangement that I know came from somewhere in my subliminal mind.  After all, we know the brain is an incredible storage house of information.  The challenge is to retrieve the file in our head that completes our current demand.  In music, that data could be anything from Sinatra-esque phrasing to a country banjo riff.  If we’ve heard it, it’s up in there somewhere.  The trick is to extract it to use it in one’s own playing.
I’ll be talking to you more soon and thanks for reading my weekly blog.  I certainly enjoy generating it.”
In the meantime please take a look at this newest video  and also feel free to visit my website at and see whats going on in the world of Pipe Organ, Theatre Organ and Home Organ.    Until Next Time……………
posted by Ric Overton of

Three Thoughtful Christmas Gifts (no, not gold, frankincense and myrrh)

Why is it that music is part of most holiday celebrations?  When you think about it, it’s really true.  So when this Christmas time came around, I was delighted to receive audio CDs created by three separate people who share a common connection, being musicians.  I received individual music files performed by the senders as holiday gifts.  Each one portrayed a different playing style, all coming from these folks who never have met and actually don’t know about one another.  Yet their intent was the same…to remember me at Christmas time and to share their craft with me as well.

A dear friend from Cleveland surprised me with several original CDs he had recorded live at various venues in the area.  They were terrific to listen to.  Lenny is semi-retired now after enjoying a long career in the theatre organ world.  Now he brings genuine happiness to locals who attend his performances on his multiple music keyboards.  What a selfless, caring guy.  Folks often look forward to hearing him play and I’m certain find his shows tremendously entertaining

One of my newest friends, Jason, was kind enough to send along a copy of his Senior Recital CD.  He received his Bachelor of Music in Sacred Music degree at Westminster College in Princeton, New Jersey.  He is now on to assuming a position as music director of a large Catholic Church in Sarasota, Florida.  I know he will be a fantastic choral and instrumental leader.  His performance disk is truly remarkable tackling such challenging works as the Toccata and Fugue in Dm by Bach.  The entire live recording was a true work of art requiring countless hours of preparation.  I got to know him through his participation in the annual Roland Atelier Fest a few years ago (I was one of the judges).  He took first place in his division and performed flawlessly.  I also had occasion to visit with him at the ATOS Theatre Organ Convention last July in Providence, New Jersey.  I’ve heard Jason consistently progress in his technique and style which is heartening to me.  One can’t help but recall my enthusiasm of former days when the passion for playing became unstoppable.  It brings me great pleasure now to encourage and nurture the fire within those just embarking on their musical journey.

And finally, a word about a talented woman I had occasion to meet recently in Florida.  Lois attended my two-day Volare master class.  It’s a two-day situation where intermediate organ students are allowed to “peek inside my head” for ideas that result in musically advancing upward a level or two. She is a person driven to learn as much as possible about performance techniques that she then applies to her instrument at home…a very charming, upbeat sort of individual.  So you can imagine how pleased I was to receive her original renditions of Christmas songs that she had personally put together and performed on an her audio CD.  The presentation was terrific.  I even heard a few nuances in the music that she might have picked up from attending my seminar.  I’m flattered and delighted the message of Volare was of value to her.  She has the potential to take her music as far as she wants to go.  When you have a minute, check out the entire Volare success story.  I’ve brought my concepts to ten cities across the U.S. so far.  2012 scheduling is in progress.  Read more details by visiting

So there you have it.  Three separate people in various parts of the country sharing a common bond, the love of creating music.  I do know there are tons of other folks just like them around the world.  What a pleasure to discover what brings satisfaction to our lives.  Those of you reading this who are musicians, no matter how accomplished, know exactly to what I am referring.  How fortunate we are to have discovered our personal road to happiness.

When you have a chance visit my website at:

Happy New Year



Posted by Ric Overton of

Hard Work….But Ohhhhh So Much Fun Too!

“It’s good to be back home.  I’ve just completed a two-week tour of Florida where I had bookings for a variety of event types that kept me on my toes.  However, all the trauma was offset by the fact that I enjoyed reconnecting with family and friends who reside in the state.  Some twenty folks with whom I am acquainted managed to link up with me.  This was truly terrific and a welcome release for me in the midst of preparing for some serious performances.


First off was two “command performances” at the Kirk of Dunedin near Clearwater, FL.  I’ve played there several times before but only every other year.  The reason for this is the alternation of artists who are asked to be part of the Fall/Spring concert series.  If you get a chance, log onto to take a look at this magnificent pipe organ installation which is expertly maintained by Mr. Terry Charles.  I had a ball!  Fortunately, all ground rules are off when it comes to song selection.  I included everything from Hungarian Rhapsody #2 to “One” from A Chorus Line.  Fortunately, the audiences were very accepting and appreciative of my diverse program.  I look forward to the 2013 season when I have already been asked to return.


Then it was off to Fort Myers for another Volare seminar which I presented for two days.  The attendees were very satisfied with the materials and suggestions I gave them.  If you recall, Volare is my way of passing on playing tips and performance secrets that enhance anyone’s playing skills.  But be forewarned, this course isn’t for sissies!  Let’s face it, certain criteria are consistent with a successful result.  For example, scales are a must…no getting around it….gotta do it.  Once one begins to believe in this necessity, I find the participants are willing to follow my lead.  Some of them actually began the regiment after the first day of instruction despite my specific request they “lie low” and get plenty of rest in preparation for day two of the seminar.  Oh well, I guess if they feel compelled to immediately put into practice what has been given to them during Volare, there’s no stopp’in em!  Go!


Afterwards, I drove over Alligator Alley to the east coast of the state ending up in the Merritt Island area, very near Cape Canaveral.  This was a repeat of the previous scenario.  It seems wherever I go throughout the country presenting this “how to” mini music course, the people I work with are all on the same page.  They have been taught how to play the notes.  But what they are looking for now is to improve their ability to create interesting arrangements, register the organ more dramatically, develop technical skills, etc., etc.  These concepts are the universal theme of the Volare program.  It’s apparent to me that geographical and demographical factors are non-existent when it comes to learning music.  Actually, age isn’t even an issue.  All of my Volare family members are on the same page.  Frankly, these men and women are looking for ways to sound more like professional musicians.  My job is to convince them that although their aspirations may not always be totally realistic, the notion that they will play better utilizing more complex harmonies and melody lines along with corresponding dynamics, is.


If you haven’t noticed, I love what I’m doing these days.”

Visit my website at




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Getting Ready for the Holiday Eating Marathon:

“Okay, I love the season as much as the next person.  However, the logistics of organizing mega meals…plus the social hassle of putting them all together are increasingly more complicated.  After all, one has to determine who would be likely candidates for the Thanksgiving Day table.  Folks’ lives change!  People move away, get divorced, remarry, pass away….all of which forces a repeat performance of last year’s meal to become sometimes unrealistic.  But I always seem to land on my feet when it comes to hosting holiday celebrations.  At least that’s what my guests tell me.  Mind you, that’s AFTER they’ve enjoyed lots of my food and beverages.

Over the years I’ve attempted to prepare the turkey using a variety of techniques.  Some results were tastier than others.  One was a disaster–that was when I smoked the bird for three days prior to the meal.  I’m still hearing about that day when there was a lack of a turkey-roasting smell in the house.  Even my dog looked at me in disappointment!  Apparently, a thoroughly basted turkey roasted in the oven still seems to come out best for me.  Forget the deep-frying, bar-be-que, steaming, etc.  I’ve reverted to the basics, but with a few new twists.

As long as the bird is moist and cooked throughout, there’s not too many thing that can go wrong.  A cooking thermometer is my life saver.  It’s the stuffing, though, that creates the flavor in my book.  So allow me to share a recipe with you that contains an unusual ingredient…oysters.  Please don’t freak out about this even though you may not be a fan of these crustaceans.  Follow the simple turkey stuffing plan below.  If you do, don’t mention a word about the oysters to your guests.  They’ll never know your secret……and I’ll never tell.



1 lb. toasted bread cubes (either homemade or purchased at the grocery store)

1/2 lb. bacon (cut in 1/2-inch pieces)

1 bulb fresh minced garlic

2 cups chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup finely chopped roasted chestnuts

1/4 lb. UNSALTED butter (melted in microwave)

3 tbsp. fresh thyme

2 tbsp. fresh sage

1/2 cup chopped parsley

12 diced fresh oysters (strained from the jar–but keep for future use, its wonderful stuff)


Cook the bacon pieces over low/moderate heat; drain, SAVE 1/4 cup of the fat.

Pour bacon fat into a medium-sized skillet over moderate heat.

Add garlic, onion, celery and cook until soft.

Stir in thyme, parsley and sage; stir thoroughly.

Add butter, cooked bacon, oysters, and chestnuts.

Season to taste.

Transfer mixture into a medium bowl; toss thoroughly and let cool.

Combine mixture with toasted bread cubes JUST PRIOR to baking; stuff bird; roast and enjoy!


Now while the bird is in the oven and you are waiting visit me at http// and order up some Christmas music.  Enjoy




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Back in the saddle again.

It’s travel time again!  I’ll be leaving California for Florida this week in preparation for presenting three major events there.
First stop is Tampa where the Kirk of Dunedan is located.  If you have a minute, take a look at their web site and click on “concerts” listed at the bottom of the home page.  Not only is this an impressive place of worship but it also doubles as an artistic center.  Perfect acoustics and a fantastic pipe organ combine to make for a wonderful performance venue.  My commitments are for next Friday and Saturday, October 21st and 22nd.  I submitted my program to the Kirk personnel yesterday for printing purposes.  Having played there prior (more than ten performances over the years), I’m familiar with the instrument and what musical styles work well on it.  This is important for me to know when formulating a written program, although I will need to refresh my memory before the performance date.  As you probably know, all these installations are different.  Consequently, one false move from the organist can be disastrous….like depressing a tab which activates a cymbal when you really were aiming for the one next to it, the flute. Ouch!  The renditions I’ve selected range from a Cole Porter medley to Hungarian Rhapsody to selections from West Side Story.
There’s another special side to this venue.  In addition to the four-manual organ, two grand pianos also appear on either side.  These are operated directly from the pipe organ.  In other words, if I choose to have the pianos play along with me (while I’m seated on the organ bench), they magically begin to produce music.  This is showcased by tiny lights positioned over each key.  For example, when I perform a ragtime piece, I plan on “waking up” the pianos to join in with my rendition.  This will be too much fun!
Next, it will be on to Fort Myers and Jay+Kay’s Music where I will be back on the Roland digital organ conducting a “Volare” seminar.  I’ve written about this before on my blog.  Briefly, I present a two-day master class which provides the intermediate musician with tips, short cuts and incentives enabling them to improve their skills.  A full explanation of the mini-course can be found at  Finally, the same program is scheduled in the Merritt Island area at Laut’s Music.
Rest assured there will be some “off time” on this trip as well.  It seems the whole world has moved to Florida.  Not only do I enjoy visiting with an array of relatives who live there but I also look forward to sharing time with friends I have met through the music industry….some of whom I haven’t seen for a number of years.  I’m sure we’ll have a great time reminiscing about the old days and telling each another how young we look….maybe.
Don’t worry, my friends, I have already prepared the November Song of the Month for you, one of my priorities before leaving town.  It’s quite a different interpretation than the previous ones.  Again, please go to the site if you’re not familiar with this project.  You may become a winner!
Let’s all concentrate on staying well and safe as the year progresses toward holiday times.  My personal plan is to work hard, play hard and give thanks every day for all we have.  I’ll be reporting in again soon.  Bye for now.
Don’t forget to visit posted by Ric Overton of via

October – Fall is here

As you know by now, I always have more than a few balls in the air.  It seems to go in cycles.  But this time of the year is by far the busiest for me.
Why is it that we start to feel the momentum leading up to the holiday season so far in advance of December?  I don’t know, however the impact of supplying interesting and fitting programs with coordinated software is primary on my agenda.  Much of my day is concerned with these issues.
October promises to be multi-faceted, exciting and rewarding for me.  My Volare seminars are going full-throttle in southern Calfornia to be followed by two commitments in Florida, Fort Myers and Merritt Island.  The latter will come after a very special double concert package offered by The Kirk of Dunedin church near Clearwater, FL.  Amazing!  The pastor of this congregation not only appreciates liturgical music but also is a jazz buff!  I’ve performed at this venue many times over the years on their tremendous theatre pipe organ.  Everything from Bach to Bacharack is not only permitted but encouraged to be performed.  Because the organ is a combination of several installations married to create this magnificent instrument, almost any  type of music works well on it.  You might want to read more their monthly concert series on-line at  I will be there on October 21st and 22nd, just before leaving for the Volare seminars part of my trip.
Obviously, I will be switching musical gears during the month.  It’s times like this I truly appreciate my pipe organ background we’ve talked about before and the subsequent electronic/digital organs I perform on today.  I realize it’s the same white and black notes on both families of keyboards, but the technique required to create sounds appropriate for the instrument is the key.  Touch response, proper registrations, song selection all play a part in the realism and success of the performance.  I will be on my toes for sure during this tour.  There will be no place for distraction while concertizing and performing.
I wish all of you a cozy, secure and beautiful October.  All is good.  Sit back, relax and enjoy the colors of the season.  Stay well and I’ll check in with you soon.
In the meantime, visit my website at and look out for my monthly newsletter.  If you are not on my mailing list please send me your email address so I can add you.
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