CAPTION: The Pipe Up Devon scheme offers young people the chance to learn how to play the organ.

Pipe Up Devon Scheme is Inspiring the Next Generation of Church Organists

Posted: 28th November, 2022

A teenage musician says he values the opportunities the Pipe-Up Devon scheme has given him to learn the church organ, including playing at Christmas services.

Pipe Up Devon is the Diocese of Exeter Young Organist’s Training scheme for 11-18 year olds.

Samuel Whitfield, 18, had been playing the piano for six years when he started organ lessons

He said he heard about Pipe Up Devon from his mum and felt it would be ‘right up his street’.

He said, “I started [organ lessons] because I love the instrument. I’ve always loved listening to it and the idea of having so much sound from one instrument is amazing.”

Young musicians are encouraged to have a go playing at services

The organist’s training scheme allows students to transfer their existing piano or keyboard skills to a new instrument, and gives them the opportunity to offer their services to their local church or at community events.

Ian Curror is one of the tutors for Pipe Up Devon and teaches students in Totnes. He said, “The aim is not just to teach the organ as an instrument, but also how playing it can be put to immediate practical use in playing hymns, psalm settings, mass settings etc.

“We want more players of all levels of ability, willing and suitably equipped to play for services in rural Devon churches, where otherwise the organ might be silent.”

Students under the scheme receive 30 lessons a year, which usually last 30 minutes for a beginner or an hour for advanced learners.

Each student is given tuition from an approved tutor. Samuel is tutored by Ian, whom he meets with fortnightly.

Pipe Up Devon students receive 30 lessons a year

Samuel commented, “I’ve learnt a lot from him. He’s got so much knowledge, especially of stuff that I’m interested in. We have very similar music tastes.

“Any techniques, even with piano, I can ask him about.”

Ian added, “As a teacher you nearly always are unaware of the influence you are having on other people – I sometimes meet former students years later and they remind me of something I said, played or did, forgotten by me but valued by them.

“Those moments make it all worthwhile.”

Since joining Pipe Up Devon, Samuel has played the organ in a Christmas Carol concert and has also been able to play hymns at a local church service.

Students are also given the opportunity to enter for the Royal College of Organists’ Certificate of Accredited Membership and diploma exams.

Samuel says, “I love having the opportunity to learn a new instrument.”

To find out more about Pipe Up Devon, please click here.

Contact the PipeUp Devon Administrator, Mark Perry, on 01395 279673 or email Mark