Secrets of Organ Playing Improvisation Contest Week 1 is open. The deadline is Monday, May 7 at 12:00 PM UTC.
Here are the details for entering.
Hope to see you on the inside!
I hope you'll enjoy reading the 1st part of the interview I did for Steemit Art Centre.
This is what other people are saying about it:
Glenn R Tompkins:
This is an outstanding interview and a wholly inspirational format for fellow artists, musicians, writers, bloggers and enthusiasts. Bravo, Vidas Pinkevicius, for sharing these remarkable insights!
You did an awsome interview @organduo. I’m so impressed with you and @deemarshall, your incredibly talented sir. I pictured you and your wife a much older couple. Probably because you say such profoundly wise stuff sometimes, like a wise old owl. You have a wonderful partnership in marriage. So wonderful to see it. Drawing pictures to each other how beautiful and quite endearing, friend. Bless you for sharing your creative abilities to the world.
What an awesome interview, it is a nice insight into @organduo as a person.
I like the quote from his father "No day without a line" as I have a similar passion for drawing art!
Thank you for nice interview @deemarshall.
@organduo thank you for telling us about yourself! Your organ playing is amazing!! I really enjoyed it.
What an interesting story of the characters Pinky and Spiky. You inspired me to draw comics with them and I loved them so much).
Yes, you are right. Notepad and oil pastel are easy to carry in your bag. And my drawings stop because they require water and paint.
An Interview with the Steemit Artist @organduo - What Makes Him Tick? (Part 1)
Check it out here
Let me know what you think about it and stay tuned for Part 2.
Some of my Total Organist students have been asking me to arrange the material inside the program according to the levels of difficulty (Beginner, Basic, Intermediate, and Advancement).
Finally a few days ago I had enough time to do it and yesterday I made a video where you can look inside the program.
My hope is now you'll have a better idea of how to navigate and will never be at a loss of which type of organ training material do you need to study.
Check it out here
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start Episode 208 of Ask Vidas and Ausra podcast. This question was sent by Jane. She writes:
Is there a source on the Internet for all of the toe-toe, heel/heel scale patterns? I am playing 15-20 hours per week in preparation for some private lessons in Paris this summer.
I am an accomplished musician, but my pedal technique has become lazy over time. Working it back into shape as I am playing repertoire such as the Guilmant, op. 42 which has very demanding pedal passages.
Thank you for your inspiration!
V: So Ausra I think the best place to look for solutions for pedaling patterns playing scales in all keys is probably our Pedal Virtuoso Master Course.
A: Yes, I would say so because it has all kinds of scales you know and all kinds of pedalization.
V: It’s quite demanding because right away from week 1 we start with C Major pedal scale over one octave and every day for six days in a row you learn four different keys, four different scales in ascending number of accidentals. C Major, A Minor, G Major, E Minor. Then day two D Major, B Minor, A Major, F# Minor and so on. So by the end of week one you have the knowledge of playing those scales over one octave. Is this enough Ausra?
A: For starters yes, but when you need to expand you know that basis and to play not in one octave but in two octaves.
V: Right. We do that in week two. The same order of keys but now we expand into two octaves. And the principle for somebody who has never done it before is very systematic I would say. We try to keep both feet together, and your knees together, and your heels together. Basically you two feet have to move as one unit. Right, Ausra?
A: Yes, but it nevers works for me for example because I have short legs so you know I have to play scale in two octaves I wouldn’t be able to keep my knees together because I would fall down from the organ bench or I would injure my spine.
V: So, this is just for improving your technique or course. In real life those kind of passages over two octaves is rare to find.
A: Because it’s good if you are playing in a middle range. Then it’s OK. It’s fine. You can do that. But when you go extremely high up or extremely lower down then it’s much harder unless you have long legs which I don’t. So...
V: And basically when I first released this course I received a feedback from one of my earlier students playing C Major scale that it wasn’t really comfortable to play with both feet in the extreme ranges you know When you play C, D, E, F. In theory C with left toe, D with right toe, E with left heel and F with right heel. And then turn to G with left toe, A with right toe, B with left heel and C with right heel. So this is system we use, but in reality it is completely unnatural to do this in the lower range of the pedal board up to let’s say bass G. So then I changed the first five notes from C to G I recommend playing just with the left foot.
A: That’s what I would do too because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to reach such lower notes with my right foot.
V: And then the same is with the last few notes in the tenor range. Let’s say A, B, and C now I think is best to be played with the right foot alone.
A: Sure, yes.
V: So the principle is we keep is quite straightforward, right? We alternate toe-toe, heel-heel for both feet wherever possible but of course when you get keys with accidentals then you get into some tricky situations and sometimes you have to think whether to start with the toe or with the heel in order to land on the toe when you are playing this sharp.
A: That’s true.
V: Like in E Minor. E would be left heel, F# would be left toe, and G would be right toe, A would be left heel, B would be right heel and so on. Right? So we have to think about what’s possible and sometimes you have to skip sometimes some notes because when you get to more accidentals like F# Major for example then it’s you have to even do substitutions.
A: Luckily you don’t have many passages in organ music where you have to play F# scales in the pedals.
V: Um-hmm. Um-hmm. But I think it’s useful for people at least from the feedback we received so far. It’s not easy. You have to understand that. A lot of people start with week one, maybe week two and then they stop and don’t continue. Because later we have arpeggios over tonic chord, and then arpeggios over dominant seventh chord and dominant seventh scale degree diminished chord, and chromatic scales, and the same with double octaves you know. This is really a virtuoso organ pedal technique course. But it starts with a single octave scale.
A: Yes, and it doesn’t mean that you have early to work on the pedal course.
A: You need to play repertoire as well you know in addition to this because if you will play only pedal exercises you will get bored after a while.
V: Exactly. And the point of this is just to give you enough tools for later practice because when you learn those scales let’s say over two octaves you can easily incorporate those exercises as a warm-up.
V: After you complete the scores, you know to keep the technique flexible because the entire point or the mystery behind the perfect pedal technique as Marcel Dupre said is the flexibility of an ankle. So while doing those tricky exercises you develop flexibility of an ankle.
A: That’s true, yes.
V: But it’s not for everybody for example people who like real music will get bored very quickly while playing those scales and arpeggios, right Ausra?
A: Yes, that’s true.
V: Would you do the scales yourself?
A: Well, it depends.
V: At which point of your development you are.
A: Yes, if I would get this kind of course at the beginning of my career then yes, I would do it. Now, I would probably not.
V: Or if you need to perfect your pedal technique in a you know rather short period of time to play at a symphony of some sort, or a you know french symphonic piece, maybe Franck’s “Grand Piece Symphonique.”
A: Well, talking about Franck I think his pedal part is so easy. I know very few French organ composers who wrote pedal part as easy as Franck did.
V: Or let’s say Reger, if you wanted to do Reger.
A: Oh yes, you would have to do it.
V: Or Durufle probably.
A: Yes and Vierne wrote also some very tricky pedal parts, but not Franck.
V: So investigate your choices and vision in your pedal technique development in the future. What would you like to accomplish? And if you want to get flexible ankles and be able to play those tricky passages with your feet then this course might work for you.
A: Yes, definitely.
V: Thank you guys, this was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
Would you like to master Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich, BWV 605 by J.S. Bach?
Hubertus asked me to create the fingering and pedaling for this beautiful ornamented Orgelbuchlein chorale prelude. I've done it with the hope that it will also help our other students who love early music to practice efficiently and recreate articulate legato style automatically, almost without thinking.
Basic level. PDF score. 2 pages. 50% discount is valid until May 3.
Check it out here
This score is free for Total Organist students.
David, one of the people who helps us with transcribing fingering and pedaling for us from slow motion videos feels that he's too slow and that this process takes up too much of his time and he can type faster instead. Therefore we decided to put him on a team of people who help us with podcast transcriptions.
So now there is one opening for fingering and pedaling transcription from slow motion video in exchange of access to Total Organist program.
Here's a sample video from which one would have to add fingering and pedaling into the PDF score provided (we use DocHub app for editing PDF's which is connected to Google Drive). Remember to slow down the video to 0.5 speed in YouTube video settings.
If you feel this is something you would be interested in doing rather efficiently without spending day and night in exchange to access to Total Organist program, let me know by the end of this week.
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start Episode 207 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. This question was sent by Ahra. And she writes:
My name is Ahra Yoo. I am an organist
in Korea. My recital is coming up in Germany, and the organ has short octave. I have never been played on short octave organ and I read your article about ‘CDE Octave’
Could you recommend any appropriate pieces for this organ? I am in trouble to make a program. It will be very helpful any of your advice.
So. It’s wonderful that people from various countries are trying to play on historical organs, right Ausra?
A: Yes, that’s wonderful.
V: And it might be surprising for Ahra, because in Korea, they might have replicas, but not historical organs
A: Yes, not originals, yes.
V: Mhmm. So, what do you need to recommend to Ahra, in this situation? What is C-D-E and short octave?
A: Well, yes...You know, it doesn’t matter what kind of repertoire you will select--you will still not be able to avoid the short octave; so you will really have to learn how to play it. So of course, the earlier the music you will select, the better it will work.
V: Until the 18th century, probably.
A: Yes. Don’t play Bach with the short octave; it might not work.
A: And also, the fewer accidentals the pieces will have, the easier you will adapt to that particular organ. So I would say: because your recital will be in Germany, play German music.
V: And look at the pieces that you want to play, and circle all the short octave notes. If it’s C-D-E, this means that there isn’t C♯ or D♯ in the bass octave.
A: That’s right.
V: If it’s C-D-E-F-G-A, then it means there are no accidentals of C♯, D♯, F♯, and G♯. Even more limited. And whatever you do, you need to adjust your fingering this way.
A: Yes, that’s right. And you know, what I did when I knew that I would have to perform on an organ with a short octave? Of course I circled the notes that belonged to the short octave, as the first step, as Vidas mentioned; and then, while practicing my organ that I had as a practice instrument, I would play it that way, imagining that it is with the short octave.
V: Even though it sounds--
A: Yes, it sounds horrible that way. But in that case, you will build up your muscle memory, which is very important for us as keyboardists.
V: Uh-huh. C-D-E organ short octave has a layout that C is where normal D is, and D is where normal D♯ is. So the lowest note is D. And you depress it, and it sounds C. And in another version, if it’s C-D-E-F-G-A, then the lowest note is still C but it looks like E. And then D is where F♯ should be, E is where G♯ should be, F is where F [should be], G is where G [should be], and A is where A [should be].
A: So anyway, you will have fun!
V: It’s really fun, but very confusing for the first time.
A: Yes, it is.
V: So take Ausra’s advice, and play on your normal modern keyboard, pretending that it is a short octave.
A: Okay. Now let’s talk a little bit more about the repertoire. What would you play on such an instrument?
V: You already suggested to avoid most of Bach’s works, right? Maybe some early Bach works would still be ok.
A: Maybe something written in C Major.
V: Mhm. Or G Major, or F Major. Those 3 keys in major, or d minor, in minor key. That would be probably the best solution for starters. And in general, if you look at earlier music from the 17th century, I think most of this music would still be composed with just 1 accidental, or even less.
A: Yes. And remember that short octave might be in the pedal as well.
V: Definitely. I think the most common version of short octave is: in the pedals, C-D-E, and in the manuals, C-D-E-F-G-A. But in her case, I’m not sure. Maybe C-D-E is in the manuals, too.
A: Yes, I don’t know exactly how it is. So I would play probably some Scheidemann on such an instrument; I think it would work well.
V: Yeah. She could look at Scheidemann, and Scheidt, and Sweelinck, probably, too.
V: “Tabulatura Nova” by Scheidt. And any piece in Tabulatura Nova could be played by manuals only.
A: That’s right. And if you would need more manual pieces, you could also play some Pachelbel; I think he would work well, also.
V: Yes. Pachelbel...What else?
A: Some Buxtehude, probably?
V: Easier Buxtehude.
A: Yes, easier pieces. Also Bach’s pieces too.
V: I made a big mistake for my first try on the mean-tone temperament organ with split keys and short octave...choosing a piece in E Major.
A: Hahaha that’s a horrible mistake!
V: And you? You did something else in C Major.
A: Yes, Yes. I actually played in e minor.
V: E minor?
A: Which is also not as good selection for mean-tone temperament and split-key action...but that’s what we did!
V: Hopefully Ara will not have to deal with split keys just yet; but some time in the future, she might.
A: But I think pieces by Buxtehude--such as Chorale fantasy, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern--I think would work quite well on an instrument like this.
A: And it has almost not pedal parts. This would also make life easier. I think some pieces by Böhm would work well on such an instrument. Don’t you think so?
V: Yeah. So you could choose between those authors Pachelbel, Böhm, Scheidemann, Scheidt, Buxtehude…
V: And Sweelinck. Those 6.
V: What else? Maybe some early Bach, right...
V: If you really like playing Bach. Do really think, Ausra, that modern music created in the 21st century would still work on an organ with short octave?
A: Yes, I think some of it might work. But you’d need to make a selection very carefully.
V: Or even improvise. You could improvise.
A: Yes, that’s right. And you know, I thought also of another composer that would work, I think, very well on such an instrument: that’s Muffat.
V: Georg Muffat?
A: Georg Muffat, yes. His “Apparatus musico-organisticus.”
A: It consists of many toccatas. There are, I think, like 4 volumes of it; and you could select quite nice pieces. They are not too hard, and sort of sectional.
V: Mhmm. They’re a little bit Italian-influenced, or French-influenced as well. Do you think Italian music would sound good on this organ, too?
A: I think so, yes.
V: Something like Fiore Musicale, by...
A: And maybe some Fröhberger, too, if you like him.
V: So in general, 17th century music would work well…
A: Yes, yes--I think that 17th century music…
V: Except for French music.
A: Oh yes, that’s right! French music wouldn’t work!
V: Mhm...Spanish, maybe?
A: I...wouldn’t risk it.
V: Early Spanish. Renaissance Spanish...
A: Yes, that’s true, that’s true, yes yes.
V: But not 18th century Spanish.
A: But still, because you are going to Germany, you want to honor German composers first.
V: Right. Play some Korean music, too. That would be nice, I think--to bring your own cultural flavor to Europe. People will appreciate it. Lots of Korean music is written in pentatonic, so you just to be careful with accidentals; but if anything happens, you could still play in C Major without the fourth or the seventh scale degree
A: Yes, if it will sound good…
V: Without F or B. Or improvise something in pentatonic, and say it’s an original Korean melody! Nice. Wonderful. Thank you, guys, for listening. We hope this was useful to you. Please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
AVA206: I am to give a recital on an organ which has 3 mutation stops and would like to demonstrate all 3 during the recital
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start Episode 206, of #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast. This question was sent by Alison. And she writes:
I enjoying reading your blog and would appreciate some advice on repertoire using the mutation stops. I am to give a recital on an organ which has 3 mutation stops and would like to demonstrate all 3 during the recital. I have looked out a Cornet Voluntary by John Stanley and a tierce en taille by Michel Corrette, but perhaps you could suggest some other repertoire I could play?
Here is the full specification of the organ:
Department and Stop list
Pedal Key action Suspended Stop action Me Compass-low Compass-high Keys
1 Sub Bass 16 RDH Bourdon
Manual I Key action Suspended Stop action Me Compass-low Compass-high Keys
2 Principal 8
3 Stopped Diapason 8
4 Octave 4
5 Fifteenth 2
6 Nineteenth 1 1/3
7 Twentysecond 1
Manual II Key action Suspended Stop action Me Compass-low Compass-high Keys
8 Gedackt 8
9 Chimney Flute 4
10 Nazard 2 2/3
11 Flute 2
12 Tierce 1 3/5
Console type attached Stop type drawstop Pedalboard radiating concave
Naturals black, sharps black/white; couplers by hitch down pedal;
Manual II to Manual I
Manual II to Pedal
Manual I to Pedal
I hope you will use this question in your blog.
V: Basically, you can find the specification in the description of this conversation as a text. But we could also summarize, right? In the pedal, if it has only one stop, SubBass 16’, in the first manual, if it has Principle 8’, Stop Diapason 8’, Octave 4’, 15 2’, 19 1 1/3’, so that’s the mutation. And then 22nd one foot. And then on the second manual, Gedacht 8’, Chimney Flute 4’, Nazard 2 2/3’, Flute 2’ and Tierce 1 3/5’. Basically on the second manual it has two mutations—a fifth sound and a Tierce sound. And in the manual one he has a high pitched fifth; 1 1/3, right?
A: Yes, that’s right.
V: So the most common mutations, I would say.
A: Yes, yes.
V: And if he has suspended key action, which means the keys should be depressed quite lightly, in Italian fashion, I believe, according to this specification.
A: Yes, it looks like very much Italian, because it doesn’t have reeds.
V: So, so she chose Cornier Voluntary by John Stanley. Let’s see if we could build the Cornier. For Cornier remember we need five banks.
A: Yes, that’s right.
V: 8, 4, a fifth, a two foot and a third. So on the second manual you have all, everything you need, right? Because we have to remember that they have to be flutes.
A: That’s right, so it looks like, you know, the second manual is actually a Cornier.
A: If you pull all stops together.
V: And then Tierce en Taille by Michel Corrette is something different. Tierce en taille. Tierce en taille means, it’s like a Cornier but in the tenor.
A: That’s right. It’s a French manor. Piece written in French manor.
V: Maybe without Nazard. Maybe, maybe Gedacht 8’, Chimney Flute 4’, sometimes for depth and reinforcement and this Tierce. And that might be enough, don’t you think?
A: Yes, I think so. I actually have to listen to that balance. Because sometimes its sort of risky you know, to decide to, what stops you will pull out before you actually, you know, play on that particular organ. Because, well, some, some stops, sometimes stops sound so much different from what you imagined. And from sort of, common, common stops. So you need to adjust right on the spot. But, but I think it might work.
V: And, my guess is that 1 1/3 19th on the first manual might be a principal stop.
A: Yes, that could be. Because it looks like you know, the first manual is stronger. It has no other principles.
V: So what we’ll be suggesting next might not work for the first manual. What about the ornamented chorales? You see? They’re probably more suited for the second manual, right?
A: Could be. But then it would probably be hard, you know, to select something for accompaniment on a different manual.
V: Well, sometimes you can play with Octave 4’ but one octave lower. If the tenor is not lower than tenor C.
A: That’s right. But then again, you know, maybe you could use one of those new principles. Probably Principle 8’ not a stop Diapason. What do you think?
V: Yeah, if it’s not too loud of course.
A: I know. You need to check the balance.
V: If it’s too loud then check Octave 4’ one octave lower and you have a couple of choices here on the second manual, to bring out the melody.
A: What do you think; would it possible to accompany the Gedacht 8’ on the second manual and then play solo on the first manual?
V: With 19th?
V: And stop Diapason?
A: Yes. Would that be possible, a possibility?
V: It could be possible, yeah. It could be possible. If it’s not too harsh, this 19th. If it’s not…
A: Yes. Then again you have to check on the spot to listen to how it sounds.
V: Right. So any type of ornamented melody in the soprano might work for any of those mutations, high pitched 3rd stops, like 1 1/3’ or Nazard together with Gedacht, right? Or a Tierce together with Gedacht, without Nazard.
A: What, let’s say, you know, if you would go to that organ and you would find out that mutations are just really loud. What would you do?
V: I don’t…
A: I think, I think it would work for Stanley like, you know, well, that piece, but, but for major ornamented chorale it would be too much. Would it be possible to register and not use mutations?
V: Yeah. Principle 8’ or Octave 4’ one octave lower, would be perfectly suitable for the solo voice, I think.
A: And what would you do when for accompaniment on the Gedacht 8’ or would you also add Chimney Flute 4’?
V: Chimney Flute 4’ of course. And we have to probably recommend to Allison to use Chimney alone sometimes in the demonstration too.
A: Yes. That would be nice. Because some pieces sound just beautiful played on the 4’ flute.
V: Or Flute 2’ on some passages.
A: That’s true.
V: If it’s a full, full demonstration too. So lots of choices even though it is just a twelve stop organ.
A: I know. You could also use some gap registrations as well you know, like 2’ 8 and 2 together.
V: Oh, you mean on the second manual Gedacht 8’ and Flute 2’,,,
A: That’s right.
V: Would sound perfect for, or even for ornamented chorale.
A: That’s right. Sometimes it works very nice.
V: Or remember you played the Canzona by Scheidemann this way.
A: Yes. I did it, and it worked quite well.
V: Mmm, hmm. It think you have to, you have to maybe play with coupler in the pedal, sometimes, right? To reinforce,,,
A: Yes. Yes, I think so, yes.
V: Because Subbass alone is not enough sometimes. Then you need to do either pedals to manual two or pedals to manual one, depending on which manual is accompanying.
V: Yes. But I think it’s, you know, its a nice, nice size instrument. It seems like it’s not a big one but you can still do lots of things with it. Don’t you think so?
V: I think so, yeah. And hopefully the room is a little bit reverberant so it can even enlarge the sound and reinforce the acoustics. Excellent! Lots of variety. It can be done very nicely I think during the recital. So you don’t need to have hundreds of stops to register some elegant and delightful organ music and play for, for thirty minutes or entire hour this way.
V: Yes, that’s right.
V: Even solo organ music, you don’t need to play with, with a friend or a singer. I mean you could, if you have an instrumentalist, but it’s perfectly possible to do a solo recital this way.
V: Yes and I think some Italian music would work well on this kind of instrument. Remember those sonatas, by,,,
V: By, by, I’m thinking about, eh, you’re thinking about Italians, right?
V: And we played it?
A: Well, yes you did. Remember, at the museum.
V: Oh, Gaetano Valerj’s sonatas are perfect for this too.
A: That’s what I thought but I also forgot his name. Getting old.
V: Mmm, hmm. Thank you guys. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
A: Miracles happen!
Have you ever wanted to start to improvise but found yourself sidetracked after a few days? Apparently your inner motivation wasn't enough.
I know how you feel. I also was stuck many times. What helped me was to find some external motivation as well.
In order for you to advance your improvisation skills and help you motivate to practice, Ausra and I would like to invite you to participate in a weekly Secrets of Organ Playing Improvisation Contest on Steemit platform (www.steemit.com) where everybody gets paid for creating and curating content. Steemit runs on the Steem blockchain.
This is a test. I'm trying to find out if enough people from our Secrets of Organ Playing universe would want to do this to make it worthwhile. Right now we are committing to 4 weeks of improvisation contests starting from next Monday, April 30. After these 4 weeks we will re-evaluate engagement and decide if there is enough need from our community to continue this contest.
This is my and Ausra's effort to promote improvisation and possibly later other areas of organ playing, such as organ repertoire, hymn playing and composition while supporting the community at the same time. Winners would share the rewards that the announcement post will generate. And every participant will get our upvote (upvotes are worth real money on Steemit). Of course other people will want to upvote participant's entries too.
So with this type of contest everybody wins.
I've sent a preliminary message to about 20 members of our community and a few people already said "Yes!"
Here are the most common objections from others with my solutions:
Not enough time: It will take only 3-10 minutes of your time every week because the length for each improvisation will be limited.
Not enough skill: The requirement for improvisation will be very simple - I will assign 4 notes and you will have to play something interesting using those 4 notes exclusively. You may use different stops, different octaves with or without pedal, different rhythms and meters. Anything you like, just make it interesting. No matter if you are a beginner or an advanced improviser, you can participate. Improvisations on pipe organs and electronic organs are OK.
Don't have enough technical knowledge: If you can record yourself while playing organ (audio), then you can do it. All you need to do is to upload mp3 file to the site DSound which runs on the Steem blockchain, add a title of your improvisation, a suitable photo and use #secretsoforganplaying as the first tag. That's how we'll be able to find your entry. In order for other contestants to also find it easier and support you, we ask you to also add a link to your improvisation on DSound as a comment to the announcement post.
The rewards from posts on Steemit are transferred after 7 days from the publication moment. So this contest of Week 1 will also run exactly for 7 days. In the 1st week Ausra and I will be the judges but starting from Week 2, we will invite a guest judge. This will usually be one of the winners from the previous week.
The guest judge will receive 10% of liquid SBD (Steem Dollars) raised from the announcement post. The 3rd place winner will receive 15% of liquid SBD, the 2nd place winner will receive 30% of liquid SBD and the 1st place winner will receive 45% of liquid SBD raised from the announcement post.
Why SBD? Because the default mode of the rewards for posts on the Steem blockchain are 50% - SBD and 50% - Steem Power which can't be transferred to anybody else. There is an option to receive payout as 100% Steem Power but then we couldn't distribute the rewards to the winners and the guest judge.
If you are interested, go ahead and create your account at www.steemit.com now because it will take about a week for them to activate your account and send you the automatically generated password.
IMPORTANT: Once they activate your account, you have to secure your master password in a safe place so that nobody but you will have access to it (they can't recover lost passwords so if you forget it - your entire Steemit account is lost forever...)
I will post the official announcement in a week, next Monday, April 30.
If you need more information about how things work on Steemit, this is a good resource to start: www.steemithelp.net
We hope this contest will motivate you to practice organ improvisation.
When you sign up for Steemit, we invite you to follow us there. You will find me at https://steemit.com/@organduo and Ausra at https://steemit.com/@laputis
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start Episode 205 of Ask Vidas and Ausra podcast. This question was sent by Petty. She writes:
I would like to offer my contribution as follows :
1. What is your dream for your organ playing?
To become a reasonably capable parish organist.
2. What are 3 most important things that are holding you back from
realizing your dream?
I would like to provide a brief background of myself to put my input into a better perspective :
I will be turning 50 in a few days' time and have just retired. I started
learning to play the piano since the age of 7 until my early thirties when I have to leave for a job overseas. I have since been playing the piano, not very often, as a leisure hobby, i.e. only with sparing technical
exercises. I have stood in as substitute organist a few times in 2016 and
2017 which sparked my interest in taking organ lessons, and this started last September. I practise in the church a few times a week and will practise on the piano other times - finger exercises and piano pieces. To me, the three most important issues in adapting to organ playing is :
a/ adapting to the different touch in organ playing - I have started seriously taking up technical exercises for the fingers again, but it has taken me a while to adapt to applying the right touch on the organ keyboard.
b/ overall physical "coordination" of the body - the relative distance
between the eyes/the score/the hands are quite different (farther off) from the piano (upright or grand). Proper posture and how to conduct movement would be essential or it could lead to unnecessary muscles fatigue, as I have experienced.
c/ muscle coordination - this follows from (b) above. There is no short of resources about correct posture in organ playing but I think it might be useful for beginners to be advised of how to, say, keep necks/shoulders/hips/thighs appropriately relaxed, during and after practice. Since there is a lot of matters requiring attention in learning a new instrument, the mind and body would possibly become tense at some point, particularly when playing with hands and feet together. Specific advice to keep the body properly relaxed would be useful.
Thanks for allowing me to share my experience.
V: So Ausra, that’s a nice goal and quite a few useful experiences that we have here, right?
A: Yes, that’s right.
V: Do you think that Petty is on the right track while listing those challenges? Adapting to different touch, physical coordination and muscle coordination. This is useful and important, right?
A: Yes, I think that these are difficulties that many beginners have to overcome.
V: As I was reading this question I thought about simply practicing before you get tired. Maybe taking a break before you even get fatigued. What do you think about that Ausra?
A: Yes, I think that’s a good idea because if you will do something bad with your muscles then you may recover very slowly so it’s better to take breaks more often.
V: So sometimes we get immersed in our organ playing and our track of passing of time is really difficult to remember right? And we get really focused on the music and we can practice for hours and hours but then it’s not good for the body.
A: Yes, that’s true and we have talked about it I think in a few of our conversations before. But I would like to remark about reading this question about how different hand motion is from playing piano compared to the organ. Because as Petty mentions that pianists usually make quite a lot of movement with the hand they use the wrists, they move the wrists and elbows and shoulders. So, you need to avoid these motions when you play the organ because these motions you know if you do too much of them it will not help you to get the right touch.
V: You are right and I think there is a letter from Bach’s day describing how he played, that someone who observed him play couldn’t actually notice any movements.
A: Yes, that’s what you do when you play organ you know. It’s not that you get tense and you know not move at all but you still keep relaxed you know your arms, your whole body keeps relaxed but you avoid all the unnecessary motions.
V: I think it’s really important to keep breathing and reminding yourself to breathe because we forget to breathe consciously and if we can remember this, entire problem of stiffness in our neck, or shoulders, or hands, or even feet will disappear because to breathe is to relax, to relax is to breathe.
A: That’s very important point that you are making Vidas and it’s actually very important because it not only will help you technically to play better and not to hurt you muscles but it also will help you to play more musically because breathing is often related to phrasing.
V: Mmm. So, I think the singing also helps to breathe right? Because you cannot sing forever without taking a breath. And you usually take a breath at the end of the phrase.
A: That’s true.
V: And breathing as we talked helps you to relax and then it’s more natural this way.
V: So let us recommend to sing some lines from her score, maybe inner voices, maybe the pedal part one octave higher or lower depending on her range and it would be really interesting if Petty could sing even soprano.
A: Yes and no. Another important thing would be that you actually need to work on your coordination and I think the best way to do it is to work in different combinations. Don’t try to play everything together and we have talked about it I think quite a few times but you know I still keep reminding people that this is the way you know to learn to coordinate your feet and your hands.
V: Sometimes people forget this step right? That they need to learn to play separate parts first. Because maybe it’s boring.
V: It’s rather boring. But I think it pays off in the end after a few weeks maybe of strenuous effort if you really stick to this plan of playing single voices, two part combinations, three part combinations and only then four part texture. Then something really clicks at the end and you are ready for a denser texture and you will not make too many mistakes this way.
A: Yes, that’s very good advice Vidas.
V: So guys, please continue practicing this way. The slower the better right Ausra?
A: Yes, that’s true. And actually the last thing that I would like to remind Petty and others that I keep constantly reminding myself since she you know comes to the organ after you know playing piano for many years. That in piano it is more important how you touch the key but not as important as how you release it. But in organ it is equally important in how you press the key and how you release it. So never forget it.
V: Um-hmm. You mean because the sound never fades in organ.
A: That’s right.
V: And you have to be really precise.
A: That’s right.
V: And calculate when exactly would like inner voices to get released.
A: Yes, that why it’s so hard you know to play the fixed texture on the organ to play for example a fugue, five voice fugue. It’s really hard because you need to be careful about each single line.
V: Or even two voices sometimes are complicated because you can focus on one voice or another voice but both of them together maybe some people are not ready.
A: Yes and working in combinations will help on this aspect too.
V: Right. Let me just add for the final advice to Petty and anyone else in a similar situation who want to become a decent church organist. Keep expanding their repertoire for preludes, offerings, communions, and postludes. Those four elements. Well maybe even wedding marches or fanfares something like that. But sometimes, yes you need that. Yes, and funeral pieces too. Keep adding one by one maybe one piece a month, maybe one piece every week. I don’t know how fast you can learn you know. And those pieces don’t have to be very advanced or long, right? A couple of pages and that’s it.
A: That’s right.
V: But remember to refresh your memory with old pieces with pieces that you played a month ago or a few months ago or a year ago because that’s how you expand your repertoire and you can play them in alternation, one week one set, another week a second set. Maybe you would need just maybe a handful of sets to keep variety in your playing and mix them together those sets of pieces, right?
V: So the people won’t be able to guess what will be next because that will become boring after a while.
A: That’s right.
V: You have to keep them always guessing what the organist will play next. Thank you guys, this was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: And remember when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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