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Course Materials

Course Materials

Course Textbook

The main textbook for this course contains materials developed for the Group Organ Program at Brigham Young University and for the Independent Study organ courses. Its primary strength lies in the written materials, worksheets, and exercises that cover a wide range of topics of importance to the early-level organist. It is revised frequently to meet the needs of the BYU organ program—including these courses. In addition, you may wish to use the Davis, Gleason, or Keeler textbooks listed below for the exercises and studies that you will prepare for the played assignments.


OrganTutor Organ 101 is a computer tutorial and workbook. The technique exercises and hymn projects appear in the workbook for practice, but are also demonstrated through video clips on the computer tutorial. Organ registration and other concepts are illustrated through hundreds of audio clips. For more information, see the OrganTutor Web site.

Organ Technique: The Method Books

To prepare for the Speedback assignments and the written exams, you are required to use either OrganTutor Organ 101 Complete (computer tutorial and workbook), or OrganTutor Organ 101 Workbook only (workbook only – no computer tutorial). For the organ technique portions of the three played assignments, you may use exercises from those books or from the other three texts listed below as an alternative. You may choose to play from any one or a combination of them.

In the Preparing for the Played Assignments section of this course, there are charts specifying the particular exercises or pieces you need to prepare for each of the played assignments for the book(s) you choose to use. You may even use another method book with the approval of your BYU organ faculty instructor. Whatever method book you choose should develop the same concepts and skills listed in the charts using comparable exercises. There is a list of places to buy or order organ music in Appendix A of the course.

Music Theory

The music theory portion of this course is divided into four lessons (lessons three, five, eight, and ten) that are studied in order. The text for the music theory portion of level one, which is also used in level three, is the following:

Organ Repertoire

The following book contains at least one piece that is required in both levels one and two:

The other two or three required repertoire pieces should be selected from the list contained in the “Preparing for the Three Played Assignments” section of the course. This list includes pieces found in OrganTutor and in other books that can be purchased separately. Alternatively, you may select pieces other than those included on the list after consulting your local organ instructor. If you do so, be sure to choose pieces that require good legato manual and pedal technique and that you will be able to polish in time.

Organ Registration

The organ registration portion of this level is divided into six lessons (two, four, six, seven, nine, and eleven) that are studied in order. The OrganTutor Workbook or Organ-Tutor Organ 101 Complete contains the materials needed for the organ registration section of this course. Additional information may be found in the books listed in Appendix B of this course. Each of the concepts should be thoroughly learned by first studying the sections given in The OrganTutor Workbook or Organ-Tutor Organ 101 Complete, and then by using additional resources as needed.

The lessons from the music theory and organ registration sections can and should be studied at the same time. Studying music theory and organ registration together, as well as practicing for the played assignments, will offer well-rounded training in organ playing.

Piano Technique (Not Required)

The following method book is included to indicate the technical and musical skill required at this level and as a recommendation for piano study concurrent with this level of organ competency. Piano technical study is recommended but not required at this certification level.

BYU Organ Faculty Resources

In addition to the materials you will receive from Independent Study for this level, other resources are available on the BYU Organ Study home page. Make use of this internet resource as you continue your organ study. This website will be updated frequently with new and interesting organ related resources, some of which are designed specifically for BYU Independent Study organ students. In addition, Appendix B of this course contains a list of supplemental texts that you may also find useful.

Don Cook, your BYU organ faculty course instructor, can answer most of your questions dealing with the subject matter of this course. Feel free to contact him at 801-422-3260 or by email at

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Course Outcomes

  1. Students will participate in an off-campus performance or administrative experience to enhance the student’s academic training at the university.
  2. Students will gain access to professional contacts and create a network beneficial to future career choices.
  3. Students will apply acquired classroom skills in a professional setting.


Speedback Assignments

After studying each lesson thoroughly, you should complete the corresponding Speedback assignment. Speedback assignments consist of a series of multiple-choice questions formatted for immediate computer (Internet) processing and feedback.

Most Speedback assignments may be completed with or without the aid of lesson materials. However, the concepts covered in the Speedbacks will be included in the final exam, which should be completed without using any materials for assistance. Whatever procedure you choose, strive for complete understanding of each concept.

Carefully review any feedback you receive and work on gaining a full understanding of any unclear concepts. Use the feedback as part of your preparation for the final exam.

Played Assignments 1, 2 and 3

This course includes three played assignments. You must submit lesson one before playing Played Assignment 1 for an evaluator. For details on the content of the played assignments, see “Preparing for the Three Played Assignments” section in this syllabus.

Prepare Played Assignment 1 by practicing the organ technique, organ repertoire, hymns, and sight-reading items required for that assignment. This process usually requires several weeks or months. When you are ready, follow the instructions given under “An Approved Evaluator” in the “Preparing for the Three Played Assignments” section of this syllabus.

There are two ways to complete the played assignments: playing for a qualified evaluator or sending a video recording to BYU.

Preparing for the Three Played Assignments

Looking Ahead

Each of the three played assignments consists of up to four sections—organ technique, organ repertoire, hymn playing, and sight-reading. The evaluator will make point ratings for all sections on manual technique, pedal technique, accuracy of notes, and accuracy and steadiness of rhythm, as applicable. In addition, he or she will evaluate certain sections for tempo, registration, musical effectiveness, and line (meaning consistent touch, clean articulation, musical phrasing, and independent yet cohesive parts). You must complete Speedback assignments for lessons two through nine to access played assignment two and lessons two through eleven for played assignment three.

The following chart maps out exactly what is expected of you in each of the three played assignments. The specific instructions for each played assignment are found under the respective played assignment module in Brainhoney. The method books containing the exercises and many of the pieces are described in this syllabus.

Played Assignment 1Played Assignment 2Played Assignment 3
Organ TechniquesFor each played assignment, you will be asked to play any or all of the manual, pedal, and combined manual and pedal technique exercises for the assignment(s) you have prepared.
Organ RepertoireMarcel Dupré, “Glory Be to God on High,” or “Beloved Jesus, Here We Stand”One piece of your choice from the organ repertoire section.Two different pieces of your choice from the organ repertoire section.
Hymn PlayingTwo hymns, one verse each, in normal arrangement.Play one hymn, one verse only, in the normal arrangement.
Play one verse of a hymn, manual only (no pedal).No manual-only hymn is required.
No complete hymn is required.Play one hymn completely, including the tenor solo technique (an evaluator will conduct all or part of the hymn).
Sight-ReadingNo sight-reading is required.You will be presented with an example of two-part music. You will have one minute to look through the music before playing.

With the help of a local organ teacher of your choice, prepare for each played assignment by practicing the organ technique, organ repertoire, hymns, and sight-reading items specified for that assignment. These items are described and summarized in the played assignment module.

In addition to the played assignment, lesson one includes a Speedback assignment reviewing the essential manual and pedal techniques. The Speedback assignment covers the information in OrganTutor Organ 101 that accompanies the manual and pedal exercises listed below. You should pass the Speedback assignments in manual and pedal technique (lesson one) before completing Played Assignment 1.

Once you have passed the Speedback assignment and feel that you are ready, make arrangements to play Played Assignment 1 for an approved evaluator. Preparing for a played assignment usually requires several weeks or months. You may play more than one played assignment in a single session, but be sure to prepare each item thoroughly.

An Approved Evaluator

Select an evaluator and make an appointment to play each played assignment for him or her. For this noncredit course, you are responsible to pay an appropriate fee directly to the evaluator at the conclusion of your session, which usually requires about ninety minutes. Although fees vary widely, an hourly rate of $50 is often appropriate. In seeking out a qualified evaluator, choose from these three options:

Approved Evaluator. Obtain approval for an evaluator of your choice from Don Cook, the course instructor. Contact him by email ( or telephone (801.422.3260), and provide him with the name, contact information, and general credentials of your proposed evaluator. Evaluators of your own choice will be considered upon request, but should be someone (possibly your local organ teacher) who meets one of the following qualifications:

Your BYU Organ Faculty course instructor, in person. If you wish to travel to Provo, schedule a time to complete a played assignment directly with your course instructor. Bring the Played Assignment Evaluation Form 1, 2, or 3 as appropriate. For this non-credit course, the fee for this service is $50 per assignment via Venmo (RDonCook) or PayPal (801-372-9869).

Your BYU Organ Faculty Course Instructor, through video recording. If you choose this option, you do not need a proctor or evaluator in your locality. Play and record the entire assignment without stopping the recording. Do not play any portion of the assignment more than twice. Mail the recording or post it on YouTube, Vimeo, or as a standard video file on another common file sharing service. In addition to posting or sending the recording, email the ungraded Played Assignment Evaluation Form 1, 2, or 3 to Don Cook ( for evaluation and grading. For this non-credit course, the fee for this service is $50 per assignment via Venmo (RDonCook) or PayPal (801-372-9869).

Meeting with the Evaluator

When you meet with the evaluator, do the following:

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Final Exam

The final exam consists of fifty multiple-choice questions and can be accessed one the played assignments and all Speedback assignments have been completed. See the chart below and the Final Exam Preparation section of this course for further information. This course also includes a practice final exam. It doesn not count towards your grade, but it will help prepare your for the final exam.

The following chart details the lessons covered in each exam:

Written Final Exam
Organ Technique
Music Theory

Lesson 8 (The Minor Scales)

Lesson 10 (Key Signatures)

Organ Registration

Lessons 2, 4, and 6—Review

Lesson 7 (The Three Primary Types of Organ Registration—review, Chorus Registration—review, Hymn Registration—review)

Lesson 9 (Solo and Accompaniment Registration) Lesson 11 (The Process of Registrational Decision Making and Registration Mechanics)

To successfully pass the exams, review the lessons thoroughly by rereading the text(s) and the feedback from the Speedback assignments.

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The grading scale used in organ certification for all assignments, exams, and final grading is as follows. Note that a grade of D– (70 percent) or above is required on all assignments and exams in order to pass this level.

Your eleven Speedback assignments are worth 3 percent each, or 33 percent of your total grade. Played Assignments 1 and 2 are worth 15 percent each; Played Assignment 3 is 20 percent. The Final Exam is 17 percent.

Grading Scale

A- 93–91 C- 78–77
B+ 90–88 D+ 76–74
B 87–86 D 73–72
B- 85–84 D- 71–70
C+ 83–81 E 69–0

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Are You Enrolled in the Appropriate Level?

Make sure that you are enrolled in the level that is right for you. Level two offers early intermediate organ instruction, and is for those with previous organ training, but who would benefit from a review of basic legato organ technique, repertoire, registration, and hymn playing. Level two develops the ability to sight-read two-part music and covers more advanced music theory topics in intervals, scales, the keynote or tonic, modes, and key signatures.

Level one offers beginning organ instruction for pianists with little or no previous formal organ training, or for those who need help in applying what they have learned in their organ playing. Level one is also designed to be helpful to those who have played the organ for years but who have little or no formal organ training. Level one develops the ability to sight-read single-line melodies. Music theory topics covered in level one include the overtone series, musical notation (including note names, clefs, ottava sign, accidentals, enharmonic notes, chromatic scale, whole and half steps) rhythmic concepts (including duple, triple, and quadruple meter; simple and compound time), note values and rest values, metronome indications, tempo indications, and time signatures.

Level one students should already possess note reading skills on the piano and be able to play hymns fluently on the piano.

Level three offers intermediate organ instruction for those with substantial training and fluency in the basic organ skills and music fundamentals listed above.

If you feel that you have enrolled in the wrong level, contact Independent Study to request a change of course. If you are unsure, contact your BYU faculty organ course instructor.

Course Structure

This course consists of eleven lessons with Speedback assignments, three played assignments, and a final exam. You also are required to choose a qualified organ teacher to help you through the requirements of your level. Your teacher should have at least one of the following qualifications:

You might consider a teacher who has studied for two or more years under an organist with one of the above certifications.

Make arrangements to meet with your teacher as often as needed to complete the course in time. Although some can complete the course with only occasional contact with a teacher, most students do their best work when lessons are frequent and regular (i.e., weekly or biweekly). You are responsible to pay the fee required by your chosen teacher.

Course Instructions

  1. Use the following list as a general outline for the order to prepare and complete lessons, assignments, and exams. First, complete lesson one. After that, you should usually be working on a music theory lesson, an organ registration lesson, and practicing on a played assignment at the same time.
    • Lesson 1: Manual and Pedal Technique—Review
    • Played Assignment 1 (begin practice, then play for an evaluator when ready)
    • Lesson 2: Organ Types and Components
    • Lesson 3: Music Theory: Intervals
    • Lesson 4: Non-Speaking Stops
    • Lesson 5: Music Theory: The Basic and Major Scales
    • Lesson 6: Classification of Organ Stops by Pitch and by Family
    • Lesson 7: Hymn Registration
    • Lesson 8: Music Theory: The Minor Scales
    • Lesson 9: Solo and Accompaniment Registration
    • Played Assignment 2
    • Lesson 10: Music Theory: Key Signatures
    • Lesson 11: Decision Making and Score Preparation
    • Played Assignment 3
    • Written Final Exam
  2. Study the reading assignment for each lesson with the goal of internalizing each concept thoroughly.
  3. Complete the Speedback assignment at the end of each lesson. (See details below under “Speedback Assignments.”)
  4. Once you have submitted the Speedback assignment for lesson one, you can complete your played assignments at any time. For information on how to prepare for the played assignments, see the Preparing for the Played Assignments section in this course.
  5. When you have completed all other lessons, the three played assignments, and you can take the final exam. See the Final Exam Preparation section in this course.

Course Completion

If you would like to receive a certificate that documents your successful completion of this course, please send an e-mail with the following information to

  1. In the Memo line, please type: “Certificate of Completion from Don Cook”
  2. In the main text, type in your name, mailing address, e-mail address, and the date you completed the final exam

Please send the information via e-mail within one month of completing the course. Dr. Cook will then mail you a Certificate of Completion.

If you do not have e-mail, please mail your request to:

BYU Independent Study
Testing Department
206 HCEB
Provo, UT 84602


Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


For this course, there are 11 computer-graded assignments and 3 played assignments. Must pass the played assignments with 70% to pass the course. Each assignment may be resubmitted once for a fee.

Resubmit an assignment for a fee. 


One proctored, multiple-choice, computer-graded final exam. All assignments must be submitted and graded before requesting the final exam. Students must pass the final exam with a 70% to pass the course. May be retaken once for a fee.

Retake an exam for a fee. 

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514