If you are an organ enthusiast like the team here at Viscount Organs, you know how hard it can be to go a long time without practicing! In fact, most of our clients practice daily to ensure that they stay on top of their technique and their skills. However, sometimes we can’t practice for whatever reason. Whether you are sick and bedridden, or you’re just away on vacation without access to a digital organ, how can you still practice?

Some people believe it is inevitable that our skills will begin to diminish after just a few days off, but there may be something we can do to minimize this risk. Even if we don’t have time to practice, there are some things we can do to keep our technique strong.

Learn by Listening

Research has suggested for years that we can improve our motor skills by watching others do the same activity we are hoping to improve at. For example, if your organ teacher shows you a new technique, it becomes easier to master. You can even do this by watching the professionals play.

However, can you do this with listening, as well? As it turns out, yes! Music recordings actually offer us quite a few clues about what sort of motor movements are needed to create a specific sound. This includes bow speed and weight for string instruments, or even the vibrato used for singers. With that being said, paying close attention to the sound could actually be a solid substitute for practicing when we are not able to.

The Listening Study

There was a study conducted with 36 non-musicians who were asked to learn a 15-note piece of music. Each participant practiced until they could play it perfectly without any note or rhythm issues. After 48 hours had passed, the participants came back to the lab for one of three types of sessions.

  • The first was the passive-listening group. They sat quietly and listened to the passage they had learned for 20 minutes.
  • The second group was the distracted-listening group. They listened to the music pattern as well, but they were asked to solve a jigsaw puzzle on the computer at the same time.
  • The third group listened to nature sounds instead of the passage they had learned two days before.


So what were the results? After a week had gone by since they had learned the passage, all participants were asked to come in and play the passage with no warm up and only one try. Researchers paid attention to the note accuracy, correct rhythm, and dynamic range consistency. In each category, the passive listeners scored the highest. While the distracted listening groups did a proficient job and outperformed the nature sounds group, they did not score as well as the passive. Simply listening for this 20 minute period gave the passive listeners over 80 percent note accuracy, while the nature listeners scored under 50 percent for note accuracy. That is a large difference!

Will This Work?

Keep in mind that this study was for those with no musical background, so the results could vary for experienced musicians. However, previous research has shown that actively listening to music this way can even leave a greater impact on musicians, as they understand what movements correspond to what sound.

Action Steps

Just because you are feeling under the weather or can’t take your digital organ with you on vacation doesn’t mean you can’t practice! Listen to the piece you are working on in your lessons while you do your groceries or while you hang out at the airport during a layover. While it is no substitute for actual practice, it’s a simple way to keep your music skills sharp during your time off.

Viscount Organs

When you are ready to sit down and get to the real practice, start with a digital organ you can rely on. Contact Viscount Organs today to learn more about our digital organs for sale. We want to help you master your technique and become a master for all your needs, whether they be for church, an orchestra, or just for recreation. Give yourself the best possible start with one of the finest organs available. Contact us today to learn more!