Course to end 'dreadful shortage' of organists in Wales

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Media caption"There are so many combinations of stops to choose from"

It may have been hailed as the "king of all instruments" by Mozart, but the future for organ music sounds distinctly off-key.

For almost a thousand years it has been the centrepiece of congregational singing across the UK.

But a "dreadful shortage" of organists has left many places of worship silent.

The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) is now offering courses across Wales to attract more people to play the instrument.

Image caption "The feedback from last year's course was extremely positive," said Meirion Wynn Jones

"There's a really urgent need to address a national shortage of organists in England and Wales," said Carmarthen course leader Meirion Wynn Jones.

"Many churches and chapels now have no-one to play, which is very sad.

"In a lot of others, they have piano players who have been forced to play every Sunday but haven't had the opportunity to be taught at all."

Aimed at "average players" of grade three or four, the scheme focuses on playing hymns and songs with confidence, as well as how to deal with the many stops on an organ.

Launched last year, the course has already attracted a "wide age range" of people.

Image caption Daniel Smith was inspired by listening to recordings from Coventry Cathedral

Among those was Daniel Smith, 23, of Aberystwyth, who has been playing since he was 11 years old.

"I like that you use not just the keyboard, but pedals, and there are so many combinations of stops to choose from," he said.

"The course has given me so much more confidence and helped me develop my technique and explore the full repertoire of the organ."

Other places of worship have also taken matters into their own hands to address the decline.

Image caption Dafydd Huw was the first in Wales to earn an "organ scholarship"

Dafydd Huw, 26, was the first to benefit from an organ scholarship, established by the Tabernacle Baptist Chapel in Cardiff city centre.

"When I was sitting in my chapel, I was thinking, 'One day, I'd like to sit up there and make as much noise as the women is doing up there'," he said.

"Slowly I [was] introduced and got lessons and was lucky enough to win the Dewi Watcyn Powell's scholarship. I'm enjoying the lessons very much."

The deadline for registration to the RSCM course is 11 September.

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