She’s got pipes

Baylor School of Music's faculty orginist Isabelle Demers from Montreal has been playing the origin since she was 16 years old. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt

Organs aren’t just a cheerful instrument played in church, a fact that assistant professor of keyboard studies Isabelle Demers is well aware of. She will perform her set, filled with different sounds and tempos, at 7:30 p.m. today in Jones Concert Hall in the McCrary Music Building. Admission is free.

Anyone attending the concert can expect to hear a wide range of pieces.

“Whenever I play a concert I try to have variety, so not too much of one thing,” Demers said. “I find that if you go to a concert and you don’t like a specific type of music and it’s three hours of it then that’s painful. I’ve been to those. I try to have a bit of everything. Pieces that will be soft, pieces that will be loud, pieces that will be slow, fast and different areas of music.”

Organist_THSeptember 14, 201513.jpg
The assistant professor of keyboard studies will be performing tonight in Jones Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt

The concert will consist of seven pieces.

“It starts with a piece that’s a little bit angry but then the next few are a bit more cheerful,” Demers said.

Her set of songs includes both newer pieces and pieces that have been in her repertoire since she started playing the organ. Demers said she doesn’t use sheet music for her performances.

“I memorize them,” Demers said. “I find it allows me to be more comfortable when I play. It’s better than having to be glued to the score.”

She said she still has butterflies before she plays, even after all the performances she has completed.

“I think you’ll always nervous playing in front of people,” Demers said. “If you’re not nervous you shouldn’t do this. I mean it’d be boring.”

Demers said she loves the organ and it has become a major part of her life.

“95 percent of my life is music and it’s because I want it that way,” Demers said.

Although she once played the piano, Demers said she is confident that she has found her calling. Demers’ passion for playing the organ is evident as she has chosen to spend her career teaching college students how to play it.

“I like the fact that you can impact their life more by teaching than playing in church,” Demers said.

Graham sophomore Andy Rose — one of Demers’ students — said Demers is one of the best teachers she’s had.

“She’s always willing to help you figure things out,” Rose said. “If you’re having trouble finding a way to practice four measures [of music] she’ll help you to figure it out so you can play it perfectly in your next lesson, hopefully. That’s the goal.”

Demers said she sees her job as more than just teaching college students how to play the organ. She says that she is able to help them figure out what they want to do with their lives.

“I think there’s a difference between applied music and say a lecture,” Demers said. “You can teach a class with 300 people and you might know their names by the end of the semester. When you teach applied music you get pretty close to your students because you spend so much time with them. After they graduate, they become your friends and I think it’s nice that you form all these relationships throughout your life.”

Demers is in the process of rebuilding the organ program at Baylor. She has had two students graduate so far, and there are currently six organ majors and seven secondary organ majors in the program.

“It’s great to teach the students that are really talented and motivated, but sometimes it’s also nice to teach someone who’s less gifted,” Demers said. “When they get it and it finally clicks and you can see the joy in their eyes.”

Both Demers and Rose are preparing for a Halloween-themed concert happening later this semester.