Fr Andre Christophe has taught the pipe organ to more than 30 students.

A dedicated teacher, passionate, and in love with the pipe organ, is how students of French missionary priest Fr Andre Christophe describe him.

A little known fact is that this Paris Foreign Missions priest teaches the pipe organ and has so far taught more than 30 students over the past 20 years.

The basic requirement is that any potential student must be able to read music.

Two of Fr Christophe’s students, Alphonsus Chern and Angela Lim, describe him as enthusiastic, patient and dedicated, and never scolds even though they might take a long time to get a passage correct.

“He patiently sits beside you pointing out mistakes, circling mistakes, making sure we follow the given fingerings, repeating challenging passages over and over again,” said Lim.

Chern adds: “He’s very careful when he teaches us how to play passages using certain techniques. You must get it right, get the fingering right, the smoothness right, everything.”

Fr Christophe took in his first student in 1991 when a woman, sent by a priest, approached Fr Christophe to teach her Church music. He said he was delighted to find out that she had a flair for Church music.

“My aim was to teach her how to play in a way which is conducive to prayer – gliding but not striking [the notes].”

You strike the keys on the piano, but you glide on the organ, Fr Christophe explained.

He took in his second student in 1997 and more followed.

On Nov 17, some of Fr Christophe’s students performed on the electronic pipe organ to about 400 people at the Church of St Teresa (see story above).

His pupils say their teacher holds the pipe organ in high regard. While the Electone organ is used in many parishes in Singapore, Fr Christophe dismisses it as a “kettle pot”.

Till now, Chern remembers looking forward to his lessons on the old Viscount console with Fr Christophe at Church of Our Lady of Lourdes where Fr Christopher had served as assistant priest.

Fr Christophe’s meticulousness and enthusiasm is seen in his ability to remember lesson dates and timings – he would call the student a day before to confirm the lesson

His students say they intend to make the best use of their skills to inspire congregations. Both Lim and Chern are organists at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.

By Darren Boon
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