Man led to play organ after years on piano

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 18, 2013

HENDERSON (AP) — A piano teacher’s passion for imparting the gift of music to as many children as possible is where Jake Hargrove got his start on a keyboarding journey that continues nearly 40 years later.
From a 30-year concentration in piano, Hargrove, the music minister for Greater Refuge Apostolic Church, transitioned in the direction of organ playing, starting with years of informal learning at first and then through the past two years of formal training.
Hargrove, who served in the U.S. Army for several years in the mid-1980s, received a first place award for best original music composition in a contest sponsored by the Veterans Affairs last year.
It was his childhood keyboarding mentor, a retired piano teacher named Katie Smart who lived next door to where he grew up in Henderson, that he credits for his fond memories of just watching others, some of them his friends, at their lessons.
“I was over at her house all the time, and she got me interested in playing the piano,” Hargrove said. “Some of her students were friends of mine. It was from there I took up music in college.”
He received a bachelor’s degree at Shaw University in speech pathology with a concentration in music. Then came an opportunity to pursue further music training at Ohio State.
“After some soul searching, I decided to go to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary instead,” Hargrove said, adding he received a master’s degree in divinity.
Hargrove was one of several featured musicians earlier this year at the Spring Street Missionary Baptist Church’s annual Easter cantata, helping choirs and fellow music leaders present, “I Know My Redeemer Lives” on April 1.
His ministry focus lately has been on taking his dedication to music up a notch, and his resolution for 2013 is to continue formal training to learn the range of organ music as a means of achieving that goal, possibly through further university training.
He learns organ from Sue Crocker these days, playing the very complex Moller acoustic organ at First Baptist Church on Winder Street and when he has a chance, the Allen organ at Church of the Holy Innocents on Chestnut Street.
“I come to practice and learn,” Hargrove said. “I have been playing improvisational for quite a few years, but it has only been recently I have taken some formal training, in the past two years or so.”
His preparations to play include following the different registrations marked on the music sheets, understanding what organ stops to pull to perfect the desired sound effect.
“The stops are pulled in order to determine what sound you’ll hear,” Hargrove said. “These determine if you will have flute sounds or deeper stringed-instrument sounds. You can also range into reed sounds such as a trumpet.”
He can demonstrate the use of the stops with an instantaneous precision, and sight-read sheet music.
At Greater Refuge, Hargrove said he plays the simpler Hammond brand organ.
“My ministry lately has been concentrating on music,” he said. “I play every Sunday at Greater Refuge.”
Hargrove said that his 2013 New Year’s resolutions focus on taking further strides with his music talents.
“I am looking to become a better musician,” he said. “It may be better through the private lessons or perhaps with an institution.”
His options include a conservatory of music, which is freestanding formal training, or by pursuing another degree program through a university.