Jan Overduin

A multi-award winner, Jan Overduin won the Healey Willan Prize in 1963; the International Organ Competition in London, Ontario (1967), second prize and finals in improvisation; the Festival of Flanders International Organ Competition in Bruges, Belgium (1970), finals; and the St. Alban’s International Organ Competition (1973), shared main prize, finals in improvisation, and the audience prize. He has been the recipient of several Canada Council awards for studies abroad during the 1960’s, allowing him to study with, among others, Marie-Claire Alain, Jean Langlais and Peter Hurford.

Jan Overduin was University Organist and Professor (and Chair) of the Organ and Church Music Department at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, where he also conducted the WLU Chapel Choir. He served as Director of Music at St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Kitchener for over 12 years, and as Director of Music at First United Church in Waterloo, where under his supervision a 44-stop tracker-action organ by Gabriel Kney was installed in 2004. In 2005 the Kitchener-Waterloo Arts Foundation honored him with its “Lifetime Achievement Award”.


In his book, Making Music: Improvisation for Organists, Jan Overduin shows that improvisation requires neither a virtuosic command of the instrument nor a magisterial command of music theory. These simple but satisfying, loosely-graded, exercises are aimed at bolstering self-confidence and enable the student to improvise from the start.

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