Swimming against the stream
You most certainly have been in this situation: you know you should practice organ playing today but deep inside you feel that the strenth needed to drag yourself to the bench is not there. You think maybe tomorrow will get easier and you use this idea as an exuse.
The feeling inside is not a nice one - it's a feeling of defeat. Your inner battle is already lost - you feel like giving up. It's even worse - you've lost this battle many times before.
So the most common scenario for a lot of people is to flee. Go do something else, something easy. The problem with this is that the feeling of emptiness is even greater after that. You say to yourself: "See, I told you."
But at least one time all of us have taken a different path - instead of giving up we fight. At least once we have said to ourselves, "OK, I don't have the courage. I admit it. But I must practice no matter what." And you do it against all hope.
This unpredictable action of courage is so important that it changes the course of your life. You stop floating down the stream and start swimming against the stream.
If you have done it once, it's easier to do it again.
There is a great joy in helping people grow. Especially, if they are your friends, people you care about. That's why I'm testing out Refer a Friend program powered by InviteBox. If you find this blog valuable to you, I'm sure your friends who love playing the organ will find it too.
Over the night 18 people have registered to find one of their friends who learn to play the organ to subscribe to my free 10 Day Organ Playing Mini Course (with the video Organ Practice Guide as a bonus).
Not only this will bring joy to both of them but also they both will receive BWV 553 video training and practice score with complete fingering and pedaling for free ($47 USD value)!
Here's what some of my subscribers say about this mini course, the video and this blog:
"Your explanations (also those send in your various emails) and continuous focus on study discipline have motivated me to study in a more structured way. I need that because I am not a professional organist so I need to do all the studying in my spare time. Your valuable advises will certainly help me to improve my organ playing!" (Jaap)
"Your suggestions have been VERY valuable to me. I have printed off all of your emails and am putting them in a notebook with tabs so that I can keep them organized. I have even printed copies to give to my teacher for him to use with his organ studio students." (Bill)
"You are the person who has given me the method, the tools and the means to be able to play the organ, and I thank you so very much for that." (John)
Do you want to help some of your friends reap the benefits of my tips and advice, just as you do? Just visit the homepage of my blog and click on the blue badge at the bottom of the screen which says "Get Free BWV 553 Video Training".
I'm currently testing out my new Refer a Friend program. If you can get 1 friend to subscribe to my free 10 Day Organ Playing Mini Course (with the video Organ Practice Guide as a bonus), you will both receive BWV 553 video training and practice score with complete fingering and pedaling for free ($47 USD value)!
BWV 553 is the 1st of the 8 Short Preludes and Fugues. This Prelude and Fugue is in C major, formerly thought to have been composed by J.S.Bach but now believed to have been created by one of his best students, Johann Ludwig Krebs.
You can have the complete video training of this piece together with the practice score which includes all the fingering and pedaling for easy practice and authentic articulate legato touch.
Just find 1 new subscriber for me. If you know any of your friends who are learning to play the organ, this might be valuable for them (remember, your friend will also get BWV 553 video training).
To take advantage of this deal, visit the homepage of my blog and click on the blue badge at the bottom of the screen which says "Get Free BWV 553 Video Training". Read the instructions and the system should take care of the rest.
If you knew that applying hand and feet preparation in your practice would eliminate all kinds of sloppiness in your performance, would it be worth it?
Basically this is the first step to professional attitude because it requires great attention to detail and meticulous repeated work in fragments.
Regardless whether you consider yourself an amateur or a professional I believe applying preparation is what will make a difference in the long run.
When you watch great organ virtuosos play from behind, you can notice how effortlessly their feet move. This is because as soon as their feet release any specific note, they slide instantly into position for the next note and wait there. This waiting period can be as short as half of a second or as long as one minute depending on the situation in the score.
Try this trick not only with your feet but also with your hands. This will not be easy, though. A part of you will scream to stop and play the piece without stopping. In fact, the longer you practice this way, the harder it will get.
But if you persist, your feeling of accomplishment will be so much greater, even if you only mastered this way 4 measures today.
Because you can
When you decide to take the more difficult path to do things that truly matter, a common thinking pattern says that if you do this, in the end you will be rewarded. Then naturally people choose to do projects that have a reward associated with it (get this, achieve that).
When rewards can be measured, the importance of the project can be judged from looking at the reward. The greater the reward, the more important the project is.
The problem with this thinking is that some rewards are difficult to measure (compare the number of people who attended your recital with a tear in an elderly woman's eye afterwards). If the reward is difficult to measure, many people tend to stay away from such a project.
Another alternative is choosing to do things that matter simply because it's the right thing to do. Because you can.
A common pattern of thinking within a group of people (large or small) is that you cannot create change you need unless your boss gives you permission.
What we need to understand is that all change involves risk. It might not work. Then your boss will be responsible, he will get the blame.
Of course, he'll say no to your proposal to restore the old historical organ in your church. Of course, he'll say no to your new idea to get more qualified students to your school. Of course, he'll say no to the riskier strategy to treat people with respect.
Initiative is never given. Initiative is always taken. The answer is in starting small - somewhere where you don't need anyone's permission.
It's a circle:
"This might not work. Therefore, I need someone to take responsibility if it fails. If someone will take responsibility, I need his permission. He will not give me his permission because it might not work."
Whoever breaks this circle first - wins. Would that be me?
Asking the right question
When people are trying to find a solution to their problem, they ask these sort of questions:
How to get people to like me?
How to get my workers to obey?
How to make students not to miss classes?
How to get more people attend my recitals?
How to find more members for my church congregation?
How to find more qualified students for our school?
How to get students do their homework?
How to get my kids to behave?
How to keep the traditional worship service alive when the contemporary style becomes ever more popular?
How to preserve our historical organ when a lot of people want a new one?
These are all tactical questions. They deal with details. Before figuring out the tactics, we need to think about the strategy, about the big picture. A more important question, then, would be:
How do you increase trust?
"But no one will play my pieces"
Yes, they might not play them.
Yes, you might fail.
Yes, you might lack talent to compose.
Yes, you might lack the skills.
Yes, you might lack the knowledge.
These fears will never go away. Many people get stuck here. They experience their failures in advance, before they even happen. This is called anxiety.
Some people learn not to fight their fears. Some people learn to befriend them and create their art anyway.
What do you fear more? The idea that you might be seen as a fraud or the idea of not trying?
"I won't play this piece"
"I don't like it."
"It's too boring."
"It has too many accidentals."
"The pedal part is too complex."
"It has too many voices."
"It's too long."
"This piece is in minor. It's too sad."
We all are different and like to play different things. Your friend's favorite pieces might not mean anything to you and that's OK.
It's one thing not to play a piece because it's too complex for you at the moment. It's completely different thing, though, to believe that it's too complex.
At the beginning we like to play what we want. But if we want to reach the next level, we also play what we need.
A piece for Pentecost
Since Pentecost is only a week away, I thought of sharing with you my Op. 1 - Veni Creator Spiritus which I composed in 2007. I have just finished putting it into Sibelius notation. It's not very difficult and could be played on the two manual organ with optional pedals. Here you will see the video and the PDF score. Enjoy and feel free to use it in any way you want.
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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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