Champions: Paul Fey, the Organ Maestro, Composer, and YouTube Sensation

Make Music Day

In this interview, we talk with Paul Fey, an organist from Leipzig, Germany, to discuss his musical journey, centered around the beauty of church music. Paul shares insights into his background, experiences, and views on music, offering a glimpse into his world as a full-time musician, composer, and YouTuber. He is one of the organists at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, where he works with the choirs. Last year, he released his first CD, “Around the Organ World,” which features 11 tracks recorded on ten amazing pipe organs from all over the world.

How did you find out about Make Music Day?

I was planning a concert trip to the United States last year, looking for opportunities, and this church in New York, Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, came up with the idea to play a concert on Make Music Day. That’s how I got into it and learned about it.

How was your experience at the Make Music Day event?

I wasn’t sure what to expect as it was my first time playing a concert there. But I really enjoyed the experience. I had a nice time playing at the concert, and I hope the listeners had a nice time too.

Was it your first time hearing about Make Music Day?

Yes, it was the first time. I had heard about Fête de la Musique in France, but I wasn’t aware it was connected to Make Music Day.

How did you start making music?

I started as a child in kindergarten; my parents set me up for music lessons. They asked my brother and me if we wanted to try an instrument when we got to primary school. I began playing the classical guitar, and my brother played the keyboard. After two months, he was done with it; he didn’t go to his practices at all, he wasn’t happy with it. So I took over and started practicing both, playing the guitar and the piano at that time. Eventually, the piano transformed into the organ; I got asked at church if I wanted to give it a try, and the organ thing started. Now, I only play the organ; it’s the most fun. Pianos are always kind of the same, but an organ is completely different, and it’s pretty cool to experience and discover what it can do.

What genres do you enjoy playing?

I personally enjoy all genres. I think I’m most known for the classical range of music, especially the small preludes that people seem to love from JS Bach. Everything works on the organ if you want it to. I’m into the classical organ style, and of course, my own music.

Do you also post your original compositions?

I do. I’ve set a goal to write one every week, publishing it on Sunday in a video. The last two weeks have been busy, so I didn’t get to write anything. I used to write something every week—a challenge I set for myself to have a deadline to work into, a good thing for me at least.

Do you play other instruments or sing?

I’ve studied church music, including organ music, piano playing, choir conducting, singing, and orchestra conducting, among others. I did that for a while, but I didn’t really enjoy it. I’m the organ guy.

At what point did you say, “I want to do music as a living, as a full-time thing”?

I grew into it, I’d say. Let me tell you the story. I finished school, and I wasn’t sure what to do, like every teenager. My parents suggested I try office administration training, a three-year program to become an office worker here in Germany. I did that with a large television company. It was really boring for me. When I was doing that, I got asked at church if I wanted to give the organ a try, and that’s how I got into organ music. I grew to love the instrument, and that’s what I wanted to do afterward. After finishing the training, I decided to do a course at university that’d give me a bachelor’s degree in church music, and that’s what I did. At that time, especially with the COVID situation, I started a YouTube channel. That’s the channel I’m working on today. I kind of grew into making and posting videos on YouTube. My channel grew and eventually became my full-time job. It all happened quite fast. I post my stuff on YouTube, and people seem to enjoy it, so I consider myself very lucky. I’ve been doing this for three years now. Although I have a degree in office administration, I wouldn’t go back to it.

How would you describe what music means to you?

I think about music as a way to communicate feelings you usually wouldn’t be able to convey with words, at least not in a way you can do it with music. In church, you can really influence how people feel with your music. There’s a great power with all kinds of music in influencing people with feelings and emotions. That’s like a superpower people don’t seem to understand, especially non-musicians, I guess. That’s what I want to do with my music. I want to make people happy and have fun myself doing it.

What would you say your goal in music is?

I don’t really have a goal, to be honest. I think as long as I’m enjoying what I’m doing, I’m doing the right thing. My goal is to be happy with what I’m doing, and I’m happy with my music and playing.