June 2019 : Theatre / Cinema organ registrations and lessons

As many of these instruments are historical, much like vintage cars, there are no factories or organ companies currently building instruments. There are also not many places that you can go to in order to learn how to play them. 


I recently came across a YouTube series that presents this information very well!  They are created by the UK organist, Tom Horton. Go to Theatre / Cinema Organ Lessons & Performances to view his lesson play list. I've also listed all his current videos here for your convenience:
Tom has a good sense of humor, and gives us an excellent learning resource for our VTPO playing :)  Learning registration techniques seems to be something that we're all looking for, so this free resource is wonderful! You can find his content on Facebook at https://m.facebook.com/keyboardskillspro, and help support his work by becoming a patron: Keyboard Skills Pro.

I don't know if you're anything like me, but when I was first faced with a console of more than 100 theatre organ stops, it was a little overwhelming. As I learned more about the Unit Orchestra (another name for the theatre organ) and how registrations could be made, how ranks were unified over the manuals and available in 16, 8, 4, 2 and the mutations, I got bolder with my choice of registrations. I also listen to a lot of theatre organ recordings, and enjoy trying to match the tonality and color from what I've heard. It's a great challenge!  MIDI playback on Hauptwerk VTPOs also give us the opportunity to see the registrations used. 

Web resources

For other resources on theatre organ registrations see
These two web resources have some example registrations and some great opinions on what sounds good.

Then I suggest having a quick read of a small online book - Theatre Organist's Secrets"A Collection of Successful Imitations, Tricks and Effects for Motion Picture Accompaniment on the Pipe Organ. Compiled and Published by C. Roy Carter, Los Angeles, California." No copyright data in evidence; assumed to have been printed circa early 1920's. It's available in PDF and other formats.

There! That should give you a really great starting point for learning about theatre pipe organs and their virtual cousins, the VTPO. Enjoy and have fun! :)

#VTPO #TheatreOrgan