Hi, I’m Chris Dortignac. I’ve been a church pianist in Southern California for over 20 years, now residing in the greater Coeur d’ Alene area, teaching and ministering part time in local places of worship.
When I was 9 years old, my worst nightmare came true: Dad came home and told us to gather up all of our Legos because he was going to get rid of them! We were shocked to say the least-Dad wasn’t cruel: he just had something much wiser in mind! Of course, we didn’t know that then, and convinced him to give them to the neighbor (figuring we would still get to play with them sometimes). So what does this have to do with music? Looking back, it was one of the best things that ever happened to us because he replaced Legos with musical instruments. Now we had a choice: we could learn to play and instrument, or go outside and play!
We weren’t forced to, but it had a good effect. Out of my 13 siblings, all of them play an instrument or instrument(s), and/or sing. Music has become a big part of our life.
I never took piano lessons because the teachers all insisted on teaching only classical and silly little songs written for children, and I wanted to play hymns and gospel songs after hearing a guy named Rudy Atwood, who skillfully utilized the entire keyboard while accompanying congregations singing the old hymns and gospel songs. My sister Tiffany had taken lessons, and she kindly taught me to read notes. The rest I picked up mostly by trial and error (mostly in a very gracious church fellowship) and from those willing to show me what they had learned. I really can’t take credit, it has to go to the LORD who has given me the gifts I have. While by no means am the most accomplished pianist or improvisor (far from it), I have been able to pick up a few things here and there from others and apply them to playing hymns and gospel songs in churches.
This website was borne out of the request of many people who have asked me to teach some of these things to others who play in church as well. The purpose of this site is to share with fellow musicians, what I have learned the hard way, and am still learning, in hopes that you too, might be able to take a hymn, gospel song, or really any other music as written, and easily apply the techniques that are available to play the message of the song.