ORGAN  GRINDERS'  HINTS and TIPS

If you are an organ grinder, you will find the information on this page invaluable (and interesting as well).  It is filled from top to bottom with some really useful hints and tips for organ grinders.  Why not give them a try next time you are out grinding?
(Before trying out these useful hints and tips for organ grinders,
please see my standard disclaimer notice at the bottom of the page.)

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Here are the really useful hints and tips on this page:

To make your organ front look more interesting and attractive to the public (children in particular) simply remove all the pipes and replace them with party blowers, so as you turn the handle the party blowers move up and down. However, the sound quality may be affected. To solve this problem (if your organ has registers) only put the party blowers on the front rank of melody pipes, so you can still hear the music. For the book playing organ, you can even connect one to the output from the cut-off ventil so you know when to put a new book on.  Nick Williams

Make a complete list of all the music that you have, and paint all the song titles on the front of the organ in white paint.  Make sure you number each title.  Now, the audience can simply shout out the numbers of the tunes they wish to hear.

To avoid injury, always assess the weight and position of the centre of gravity of an organ before trying to lift it.  To assess the weight and the position of the centre of gravity, simply lift it up.

Increase your takings by mounting an old grinding wheel on the crankshaft of the organ.  The audience will be only too pleased to pay you for sharpening their old knives and scissors whilst they enjoy the music.

Get somebody to sit on a chair directly in front of the organ with their ear to the pipes.  Have a pre-arranged signal, so that when the listener hears no music for 5 seconds, he raises his hand above his head.  Whenever this happens you'll know that the music has finished, and it is time to put on another roll or book.  Tell him to lower his hand when the music starts playing again.

Always carry two identical organs around with you.  Then, in the unlikely event that the first one goes wrong, you will be able to continue your performance on the duplicate instrument, thereby avoiding audience disappointment.

Organise a competition for your audience.  Tell them that they have to guess the titles of the music you are playing.  Increase the excitement by offering the organ as a prize to the person who guesses the most tunes.

If you get complaints that your organ is too loud, remove all the pipes from the organ and turn them round so that they face towards the back.  This doesn't make a lot of difference, but every little helps.  Always carry a pot of glue around with you to enable you to glue the pipes back into position again afterwards.

To save money on books and rolls, buy an old piano from an antique shop.  Stand the piano next to the organ and hire a concert pianist to play the piano whilst you turn the handle on the organ.  To avoid the organ music interfering with the pianist, make sure that the bellows are removed from the organ.

If you've ever had air leaks, you will know how difficult they can be to track down.  Try this simple solution:  Place the test roll or book in the organ and start cranking it.  Whilst the music is playing, submerge the whole organ in a tub full of water.  Any air leaks can be easily located simply by watching for bubbles rising in the water.  This trick works for bicycle punctures as well.

To avoid getting bored by playing the same music over and over again, take a portable casette player with you, and a large pair of headphones.  Whilst you are playing the boring music to the audience, you can be dancing along to the greatest hits of Val Doonigan or Max Bygraves. 

We all know how expensive book music can be.  Well instead of paying out large sums of money for unnecessary music, why not turn the handle at half the usual speed?  In this way, the small amount of music that you have got will last twice as long, and nobody will be any the wiser.

Cut all your roll labels off the start of each roll, and stick them in a scrap book in alphabetical order.  By examining the book, you can instantly tell whether you have got a particular piece of music.  This avoids needless duplication through ordering the same roll twice.  Book organ owners can conveniently cut off the title page of each book in a similar fashion.

Organ tuning is a difficult enough job without having to remember which pipe is which.  To make the job easier, paint the pitch on the front of each pipe in black letters so that it can be easily seen (C, C#, etc.).  Now you can easily tune the organ without adjusting the wrong pipes.  The job can be made easier still by painting the following legend on the front of every pipe: 'Tune pipe by adjusting stopper at top'.

Sometimes, the bellows on an organ can make an annoying 'Whooshing' sound which can be heard during quiet parts of the music.  This can be eliminated by carrying a portable generator and a vacuum cleaner around with you.  Drill a large hole in the bellows, and connect this up to the 'blow' end of the vacuum cleaner by a long length of flexible tubing.  Make sure the vacuum cleaner and generator are at least 50 yards away then switch on.  As well as being quieter you will also find that the organ becomes much easier to turn.  Don't forget to remove the dust bag first.  Incidentally, this trick doesn't always work - but it's worth a try.

Annoying ciphers can be easily cured by removing the pipes from the organ one-by-one until the noise stops.  When you have found the guilty pipes, simply throw them away and replace the good ones back in the organ.

Roll organ grinders:  Remove the lids from your music rolls, mix them all up, and put them back on the wrong boxes.  Now you can test your memory by trying to guess which roll is in which box.  Score 5 points for each one that you get right.

Hide a radio inside the organ and tune it into a station broadcasting orchestral music and operas, etc.  Whenever the music starts, turn the handle.  The audience will think that you are playing the music on the organ.  During operas, you can also open and close your mouth in time to the words, and the audience will think that you are singing as well.  Don't forget to stop turning the handle during news bulletins and weather reports, otherwise your secret may be detected by sharp-eyed listeners.  However, you can continue to mime to these, and your appreciative audience will think that you are providing them with up-to-date news stories during your recital.

Find out which are your most popular tunes by drawing a cross on each roll or book whenever you finish playing it.  At the end of the year, all you have to do is to count up the crosses on each piece of music, to discover your most popular piece.

If the weather forecast predicts hot weather, take a bucket of water with you.  Then, in the unlikely event that the forecast should turn out to be accurate, you can stand in the bucket of water to keep your feet cool.

Impress your audience by putting a roll of music on backwards.  When it doesn't play properly, remove the top from the organ and poke about inside with a long screwdriver.  At the same time, pretend to examine the circuit diagram of an old washing machine.

Standard Disclaimer:
The information on this page was given to me by a bloke down the pub.  I cannot be held responsible if it is a load of rubbish.  Neither am I responsible for any harm, loss, damage, waste of time, unintentional pregnancies, insomnia, or premature baldness caused by anyone foolish enough to act upon this information.

 

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