The Wellington Cathedral of St Paul prides itself on providing high quality organ tuition to a wide variety of students. Previous pupils have gone on to hold organ scholarships around the world and to compete in international organ competitions.

Pupils learning at the cathedral receive tuition on the main cathedral organ, and practice space is available in the cathedral’s Lady Chapel. Organ scholarships are also available to assist with the cost of lessons.

Richard Apperley (Assistant Director of Music) is currently writing his own organ tutor which covers many aspects of organ playing, ranging from pedal technique through to more advanced aspects like ornamentation, hymn playing and transposition. The tutor also contains an extensive amount of organ repertoire – his teaching philosophy is based around primarily using repertoire as teaching material rather than exercises.

When learning the organ it can be difficult to find opportunities to perform in public, and also to watch in detail experienced organists play. Because of this, the cathedral hosts an annual organ pupils recital, where all organ students in Wellington are given an opportunity to play. Pupils are also encouraged to perform short pieces as organ voluntaries at cathedral services, and also to assist at the organ with registration and page turning.

Why learn the organ?

  • no other instrument provides the variety of sounds, pitches and volume that the organ does – the organ has often been compared to an orchestra played by one person
  • playing the organ teaches you essential and advanced harmony, score reading and accompanying skills
  • playing the organ challenges you mentally and physically – not only are you playing beautiful music, but you are also co-ordinating playing with your hands AND feet together and managing stop changes

It is normally recommended that pupils have reached a Grade 5 level on the piano before commencing organ lessons, but options are available to combine beginner piano lessons with time on the organ.

If you are interested in learning the organ then please contact Richard Apperley by emailing richard@wellingtoncathedral.org.nz or Michael Stewart by emailing dom@wellingtoncathedral.org.nz

Richard Apperley (Assistant Director of Music) presents a behind the scenes tour of the cathedral organ, published by SOUNZ – The Centre for New Zealand Music

Information about the cathedral organs can be found here.