Remembering UK’s first electronic organ laboratory

The first Wurlitzer teaching laboratory in the country opened in Southwick Square in January, 1970

The first Wurlitzer teaching laboratory in the country opened in Southwick Square in January, 1970

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THE first electronic organ laboratory to open in the UK was ready to commence operations in Southwick Square early in 1970.

So many people were buying the modern, small electronic organs for home playing that Southern Organs was opening the first Wurlitzer teaching laboratory in the country.

Any number of pupils, up to 24, was able to receive simultaneous and individual tuition from organist Jackie Brown.

Through headphones, he could listen in to any individual pupil, and the pupil could hear only himself and his instructor.

Before the laboratory even opened, 100 pupils had enrolled.

The idea was that anyone from complete beginners to accomplished performers could learn or improve their organ music.

Every type of music was taught, including pop, classics and church arrangements.

The school was housed next door to Southern Organs in Southwick Square and having a separate teaching school meant every pupil got the benefit of being instructed on the same model of organ.

Wurlitzers were stocked solely for the purpose of instruction and they were electronically wired so that each pupil could receive either individual or group instruction.

Southern Organs was the sole British agent for the sale of these teaching laboratories.

They could be purchased as complete units by schools, colleges or other institutions, for recreational instructional or therapeutic purposes. The next stage of expansion the company was planning was the installation of recording studios at its Southwick premises.

Classes were held morning, afternoon and evening, and there were virtually no lower or upper age limits.

Anyone wanting individual support, for example for exam standard, or in a particular sphere of music, could also be accommodated at the organ laboratory.