Organ vs. Piano: Which is the better choice for you?

If you are someone who is considering adding a keyboard instrument to your home, have you considered whether you should get an organ or a piano?  Many people can’t tell the difference between the two! They both have keyboards, so they must be the same, right?

Not true! In fact, although they require a similar technique, the organ is about as different from the piano as a drum is from a clarinet.  This is important because many people who take up the piano wonder how to transfer the skills they to the organ.  Keep reading to learn about the key differences between the two, and which will better suit your hobbies and aspirations!

Sound

Did you know that the piano is classified as a percussion instrument, and the organ is actually classified as a woodwind instrument?

When you strike a piano key, a small hammer hits a string, which produces the sound you hear. The player has to continue striking keys to continue the sound. Much attention has to be paid to the dynamics since the sound dies away quickly.

A look inside of a piano at the small hammers and strings

A look inside of a piano at the small hammers and strings

Yet, when you strike an organ key, an electrical circuit is completed- the key being pressed does not physically strike anything.  The keys are tuned to specific frequencies, and when the circuit is completed, the sound can be held for an indefinite amount of time – in other words, the sound continues as long as the key is being held down!  However, this also means that much more attention has to be paid to releasing the notes

Another difference is the number of sounds each instrument can generate. A piano sounds like just that- a piano!

An organ on the other hand is a bit more versatile; it can be altered to sounds like a variety of different instruments. This is because the organ also different “ranks” (or voices), which can be used for a variety of effects. The hands and the feet- on the keyboards manuals as well as the pedals control these ranks.  Each rank in an organ can be combined with the others to produce sounds of a variety woodwind and reed instruments.

An organ has different levels of keys, as well as many pedals

An organ has different levels of keys, as well as many pedals

Role

The role of the two instruments when used as accompaniments is different as well.  The piano works well as a leading instrument- the power of percussion instruments comes from the first strike.  The piano can also produce rhythms and melodies much faster than an organ, making it an excellent introduction piece. Likewise, it is also a good tool for guiding the melody.  An organ is capable of filling a larger space with sound, and supporting a large congregation, for example, in singing. It achieves its power during the sustainment of the notes.  A primary function of an organ is to fill in sounds and provide the supporting chords.

 Skill

Each instrument calls for a different set of manual dexterity and music theory skills.  Although both instruments are keyboard driven there are many differences between them when it comes to playing. Organ players must learn to play bass notes on a pedaled keyboard while controlling a volume pedal as well. Piano players must learn complex chords and fingerings.

The general verdict is that if you want to play the organ, it’s a good idea to learn basic keyboard skills on the piano first.

This is because a student with a solid background in piano will be able to better focus on the issues unique to the organ.  Pianists who are at a relatively experienced level should consider trying to find an organ they could play! Developing skills on the organ will give a pianist a new perspective on playing keyboard instruments; therefore, it will indirectly influence their piano skills as well!

Evola Music can help you find the perfect piano or organ for you or your family.

The organ, from its baroque origins to today’s contemporary marvels, is unmatched in its versatility and tonal variety.   If you are already skilled on the piano, an organ may be exactly what you are looking for! Evola Music has the right organ for your needs, whether it’s for church or home. Or, if you’re searching for the perfect upright piano, baby grand, or concert grand piano, you’ll find it at Evola. We sell a variety of digital, player, and acoustic pianos- new and pre-owned! If you are looking to begin your practice and start off with lessons, we offer those as well.  We have a variety of classes for all experience levels and age ranges. Contact your local Evola Music, or visit our website for more details!

Evola Music's Lowrey Organ Program

Evola Music’s Lowrey Organ Program