Being Better: Set up the Instrument

Part I of in the “Being Better” series – an attempt to find discrete ways to engage fully with the job of church musician while perhaps, getting the side results of efficiency and wisdom.
1.  Preset a generic level.
I can’t say that this is a particularly novel idea, but the return-on-investment is tremendous.  There are likely a limited number of combinations that you need, and if you have the available levels, it is invaluable to be able to sit down at the instrument and have the basic registrations immediately prepared.
Method 1:  Think about volume.  If I have 6 general pistons available, then
piston 1 is pianissimo
piston 2 is piano
……and so on…..
piston 5 is mezzoforte
piston 6 is forte.
You don’t need to preset fortissimo – you have that with the crescendo pedal and sforzando.
Method 2: Kind of the same as method 1.  Think about specific stops.  I heard Joyce Jones present this idea in a workshop.
piston 1: all 8′ flutes
piston 2: + 4′ flutes, 8′ strings & small principles
piston 3: + 2′ flutes, 8′ principle, 4′ octave
piston 4: + 2′ octave
piston 5: + mixtures
piston 6: + reeds
Method 3: This is for divisional pistons. I started this when I was playing a memorial service at an unfamiliar church and didn’t have the time to set up registrations for each piece.
Divisional pistons 1-3 are accompaniment stops – strings, flutes, soft things.
Divisional pistons 4-6 are solo stops – small reeds, solo principle, gentle cornet (8, 4 ,2, 2 2/3)
At this point, you can combine each solo sound with each soft accompaniment and always have the possibility of a new, gentle registration available.
This is probably the single thing that you can do to make your time at the instrument efficient. If you have an extra memory level, help yourself so that you can save time in the future.