Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 519 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. In this episode, we would like to thank Richard Knot, who sent us his generous donation of £10. And he wrote:
Dear Vidas and Ausra. Enjoy a coffee on me!! Best wishes, Richard
So then, I wrote to him a message thanking Richard. I wrote:
Dear Richard! Thank you for your generous donation... It's very kind of you. How is your organ playing going? ~Vidas
And he wrote:
Dear Vidas, I thought you’d both like a coffee! My playing is going ok thanks, although I’m finding it harder to learn new things quickly and efficiently. I’m learning quite a bit of French music to play during upcoming visits to Paris. Although I have an excellent teacher from the Royal College of Organists, I’m thinking of joining your Total Organist scheme to give me more skills for good effective practising. It’s a lot of money though.
V: And I wrote to him:
Thanks, Richard! Having a goal to be prepared for organ trip in Paris is an excellent motivation. If you can wait until Thanksgiving, Total Organist will have a 50% discount.
To which he replied:
Thanks for letting me know about that, Vidas. It’s very good of you. I can certainly wait for Thanksgiving and your promotional emails!
A: Well, so this is what I like about this message that Richard translates that even though he surely had professional training with a good professor at a well-known institution, he still wants to improve himself. And that’s what I think is very important for each of us. Because no diplomas, no the best professors can set you up for entire life. You still need to improve on yourself throughout your life. And you still need to learn new things and to find out about new things, to find new ways, to try new instruments.
V: And this is especially nice if he goes to Paris.
V: In Paris, he will find many unfamiliar instruments, perhaps famous instruments. And if he ever has a chance to try them out, inevitably the time comes when he needs to play something. And playing something well on these instruments makes the entire trip more enjoyable. And then...
V: ...then that’s where we come in, helping people reach their goals, and helping them achieve better results than they would be doing on their own, alone. So, we’re very grateful to Richard who enabled us to have some coffee.
A: Yes, we will. Maybe next week.
V: Yes. Coffee is a good drink. We drink decaf coffee, right Ausra?
A: Yes. We are very Americans in that way.
A: Almost nobody in Lithuania understands us. We are just asking to them, Why do you drink coffee at all, if you drink decaf? But now there are more and more places where we can get coffee like this.
V: Yeah, lots of younger generation people are starting to convert to decaf tribe.
A: That’s right. And plus, in Vilnius, we have lots of foreign tourists who also comes from various countries, and they want to drink decaf. Not all though, of course, but we get, I think, more and more American tourists.
V: You know what I was surprised about, when we visited various European countries and sat in restaurants? Yes, you could order decaf coffee, but ordering alcohol-free beer was very difficult. Finding a place with…
V: Non-alcoholic, yes.
A: Yes. Well, I guess Europe is drinking a lot alcohol. Which is maybe not so bad, if you are from the southern part of Europe. I don’t think they have so much trouble with alcoholism as we in northern Europe have. There are all these nasty jokes about Swedes, or Finnish people, you know, taking the ferries, to, for example, Estonia. And then not to be able to get out, because the alcohol is cheaper on the Estonian ferry, so we drink a lot.
V: I think one Finnish travel agency got into trouble by advertising trips to Italian as a cheap alcohol place.
A: And in a way, it’s not like it’s really cheap, but it’s much cheaper still than in Finland or Sweden or other Scandinavian countries. But I guess there is something, I don’t know, something about our genes, that we are all in the northern part of Europe, well, don’t hold the alcohol very well, and become alcoholics way too often. Compared to, for example, Italy or Spain and France.
V: But you recently heard a theory that if people lived 300 years, we would all become alcoholics at some point.
A: Yes, there is that theory that there is a sort of limit of alcohol that you need to drink, and after that, you will become an alcoholic. So even if you drink very little, like for example, Vidas and I do, if you would live for 300 years, you would reach that limit of becoming an alcoholic.
V: To which I might reply, if we live for 300 years, all our subscribers would become organ playing virtuosos.
V: Every single one of them.
A: And I just thought about how many organ, maybe I could learn entire organ repertoire that’s written if I was to live for so many years.
V: Oh, yeah - we would need to write more!
V: I wrote two pieces this week already.
A: I don’t think you would feel the lack of organ music, because there are nowadays composers that write a new piece every single day.
V: It’s a good habit, though.
A: Well, yes. You know, before that, I thought maybe you don’t need to bother and to write just, let’s say, average music. But I read a book by Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic…
A: About living creative life, and she said that even if you write, she talks mostly about writing literature. If you will create on a regular basis, then there is a chance that out of your, I don’t know, 10 books, one will be really good.
V: Mm hm.
A: Maybe at least one would be so good, but in writing them, you will develop yourself as a writer. Improve yourself as a writer.
V: And she’s known for saying there is a book you need to publish, and there is a book you need to write, and those two books might be completely different books.
A: Yes, and this is so exciting when I’m starting to talk about her, because I read this book on his recommendation.
V: My social status has improved, right, Ausra?
V: Nice. I’m starting to be an influencer.
A: That’s right. So if I would be going to Paris to try different organs, I would probably bring with me Cesar Franck’s L’Organiste. I think it’s an excellent book, if you would just want to get familiar with French organs.
V: Mm hm. It’s easy enough to sight read, if you can. But it’s beautiful enough to be able to sound authentic on these instruments.
A: Yes, and plus, because in Paris, you wouldn’t find authentic Baroque organs. They were most of them built till right after the Revolution, because so many wonderful instruments were destroyed - Baroque instruments - were destroyed during the Revolution. So I guess, the Romantic or Modern music would work much better on those instruments.
V: Mm hm. And by the way, we have prepared many suites by Franck from this collection of L’Organiste with fingering, and even registration suggestions for pipe organs. Because originally, the registration suggestions were written for French harmonium, which are different. We had to convert them. So you can check them out. Okay, guys. Very interesting discussion today. We hope this is useful to you. We would like to thank again to Richard for his kind donation. And now, we will go to have some coffee.
V: Please send us more of your questions. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra
V: Let’s start episode 518, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. And this questions was sent by Oluwadotun. He’s a new subscriber of ours and he answered the question; when new subscriber after maybe two weeks, they get this question from us: ‘what are your dreams in organ playing right now and what are the challenges that prevent you from reaching your dream?’ And he wrote:
Dream of playing MUSICAL scores or pieces at sight.
V: And he writes further:
Oluwadotun: I need training on my sight reading ability and skills. I also want to improve my sight playing.
V: So basically, it’s all about the same thing.
A: Yes. All three sentences are basically the same.
V: Synonym's of …
A: As I read them, yes.
V: He basically wants to play musical pieces without practicing them and play them very well, probably, like sight reading.
A: Yes. I can disappoint him right away, that it’s impossible for anybody. I wouldn’t know a person who could play any given organ piece at sight, let’s say, in a concert. Do you know? In a concert. Difficult! Difficult!
V: Ah, difficult.
A: I’m not talking about like Frescobaldi’s Fiori Musicali that you play for church if you need something…
A: right away.
V: So you probably mean that some scores with easier technical difficulty level could be learned to sight read without mistakes.
A: Of course! Of course. But still, you wouldn’t play those in a concert probably.
V: Or maybe if you would play some of them in a concert, you would still definitely need some difficult music to play.
A: Sure. Of course, you would need to know to play various music during your recitals. Probably because you cannot play just very, very hard pieces, all of them, because you would collapse at the end of recital.
V: Mmm-hmm. Or, you playing very, very easy pieces isn’t a good idea either.
A: Everybody would either sleep or leave.
V: Mmm-hmm. Has to be some balance.
A: But I guess that if we are talking about sight reading, those pieces that you play in a regular like liturgical setting can be easily sight read, and that I think it’s okay. Still, if you are just a beginner, I would never suggest you just simply sight read it during church service. Because you might get fired.
V: Beginners cannot even sight read hymns.
A: True. Especially because of the pedal line and left hand tenor voice.
V: They all of course, not always know the trick to playing only the soprano and the bass parts, the two parts, outer parts, which sound pretty nice without the inner parts as well.
A: But anyway, in this question, I see this guy, he wants to take a shortcut. But I can really disappoint you that there are no shortcuts in playing organ and playing it well. Of course if you are play on a daily basis, year after year, decade after decade, yes, at some point you might notice that it’s very easy and everything is just so natural. But before that, achieving that you need to spend a lot of hours on the organ.
V: How many hours. Let’s disappoint him even further.
A: Well, I guess you love to count so you tell us a number.
V: Okay. In Berlin Conservatory, or Academy of Music maybe, there was this experiment conducted when researchers went and made a survey of students who are winners of international music competition—basically they are in a very, very world class level, very high class level, not just students who simply keep themselves afloat but at the best of their class—and asked them how many years, have they practiced their instruments, violin, piano, anything. And all of them appeared to have been practicing more than ten years, which also gives an average of ten thousand hours. Imagine! But obviously ten thousand hours is not just a number that you need to reach. Each hour, each minute, basically, on your organ bench, for example, has to be, what we call deliberate practice. Deliberate practice means that in each practice session, you have to set a goal, what you are doing today and try to reach this goal. Strive to make yourself at this skill or art, better every day. Is it clear Ausra?
A: Yes. Clear, frankly for me.
V: Otherwise, it’s just fooling around, like sight reading pieces which helps with certain elements of your sight reading skills, for example, but sight reading skills alone don’t get you win in international musical competition.
A: That’s right.
V: Right! Or play recitals, let’s say. It’s a part of that skill and there are many more things involved like being very good at music theory and harmony.
A: True. Because it’s essential, also if you want to sight read things easily. Because if you won’t have any knowledge of music theory, then I think it still will be very hard for you to sight read even after ten years of practice.
V: Well, in this case, like a person who just sight reads, sight reads, sight reads every day without giving a thought about what that music means in terms of musical ideas, keys…
V: and chords, chord progressions, they’re simply doing the same thing like reading a book in a foreign language, let’s say in Japanese, in very exotic language probably, and without even translating anything, without knowing what they’re reading about.
A: Now I thought about such a ridiculous example, for example, how I would compare the organization is sort of just reading, sight reading day after day without any thought. It’s like cooking for pigs, yes and it’s like cooking in a renowned restaurant.
V: But pigs are very happy, you know.
A: I know.
V: Every morning they’re squealing for breakfast.
A: But still do you vary menu for pigs? No. You just mash whatever, potatoes and some other stuff in it, day after day, but they are still happy, yes?
V: No steak?
A: No steak!
V: No cake?
A: No cake!
V: Alright. So you get the idea probably.
A: And I guess that in this modern world full of these smart technologies, it becomes a real issue for people and a real problem for people to stick to something and to do something on regular basis, to study something that takes effort for out of you. Because everybody just wants good results right away without putting any efforts, or putting just a minimal efforts.
V: Like fast food.
V: Mmm-hmm. Which tastes good but is not healthy.
A: That’s right.
V: So in organ playing you would do very well if you set a goal for each practice, if you sight read. Even sight reading has to be deliberate, playing at a certain tempo, right?, and thinking about what’s going on in the music right away.
A: And for example, if your goal is to be an excellent sight reader, it’s your sort of like a final goal, yes, long term goal. It’s not enough. You need to have some short time, short period goals too...
A: for each day or for each week or each month because only going step by step you will be able to achieve some progress.
V: All things that we are talking about seems to take years and even decades, right? And the people who want fast results might get sorely disappointed. But, let’s console them a little bit. What about enjoying moment to moment practice and the process, not the result. Result might come after years, but the process itself might be enjoyable too.
A: True. I think you just have to setup some sort of stable routine for yourself, and enjoy the moment.
V: Because practice is privilege!
V: Like our professor Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra used to say. So, 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!
Last week I set out to create my Organ ABC cycle for solo organ with 26 parts where every part is dedicated each of the letter of Latin alphabet. These will be the pieces accessible to play for relative beginners. And when a beginner finishes learning them, they will no longer be a beginner and actually will have advanced to the next level.
The problem is that beginners need guidance in learning such pieces, for example, guidance in choosing the most efficient fingering and pedaling. That's where this score comes in.
Part I: "Aeoline" for solo organ from "Organ ABC"
I'd like to thank Diana Danilova for meticulously transcribing fingering and pedaling from this practice video below.
What will you get?
PDF score with complete fingering and pedaling written in which will save you many hours of work. 1 page. Beginner level.
This score is free for Total Organist students.
Good luck in your practice and let me know how it goes.
Check it out here
When you sit on the organ bench up in the balcony, you miss all the fun down in the nave. I'd like to thank Unda Maris student Audre Dudeniene who recorded this video during last Saturday's organ and VU Kinetic Theatre Troupe improvisations "Exodus":
Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 514 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Lawrence. And he writes:
Hello Vidas, In your last note to me, you asked me what challenges me. I find pedal playing a challenge because it is relatively new to me. I have only had this organ for a year and a half. All through my playing life I have found sight reading to be difficult. I also need to practice in a more structured way. I think your practice video should be a big help.
Thank you, Lawrence.
V: Let’s start from the ending, ok?
V: He mentions my practice video. Lawrence just recently subscribed to my, to our newsletter, and when person is new on our list, they first get this free 10-day organ playing mini course. And on day one, they get this video how to play, how to master any organ composition. Where I teach to play Bach’s chorale prelude from Orgelbüchlein, Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ. And probably, he refers to this video.
A: Yes, I guess so.
V: It’s interesting. I created this video at the beginning of our online activity, back in 2011, at the end of 2011, so what, eight years, almost? And it’s still relevant, it’s still helpful.
A: And it will be relevant, I believe. Because it’s a beautiful piece. Most of us who play organ love Bach, so.
V: Exactly. For Lawrence, sight reading is difficult. This is natural, because sight reading involves playing music that is unfamiliar to you. And if you haven’t done this before too much, then it will remain difficult.
A: Well, it will come with practice. The more repertoire you will learn, the easier sight reading will get for you. And also, the other thing that helps to become a better sight reader is knowing music theory. Because, now when I teach keyboard harmony and general functional harmony and music theory and solfege for 14 years, I have no trouble reading any kind of music at all. Reading in any key. I can you know, sight read easily from 7 flats and 7 sharps, and it doesn’t bother me at all.
V: Mm hm. That’s good.
A: Because that’s experience. Because I remember my theory professor at EMU University, Anthony Iannaccone who would tell us, If you are watching at every interval and you are still thinking what that interval is, it means you don’t know it well enough. Because it just needs to go automatically without much thinking.
V: Exactly. How much, how many hours do you teach in a week on average, Ausra?
A: Well, on average, it’s, well, at least 23.
A: At least.
V: So in one month, would be what, 90 hours perhaps?
V: Approximately. 100 maybe?
V: Maybe. Let’s make it an even number and say it’s 100 hours per month. How many months are in your school year?
A: Nine. Because then on the 10th month, we have exams.
V: Ah, so, okay. You are teaching for nine months. So then, this means that you’re teaching for about 900 hours per year.
A: Yeah, and why do you need to calculate anything? What will it do?
V: How many hours for 14 years?
A: Well, I’m not so good with numbers, if you like to count, then you do it.
V: Ok. Ten years would be 9,000 hours. But plus four years, 13,600 I believe.
V: Do you know, Ausra, how many hours does it take to reach mastery?
V: Well, it depends. You can do the same thing over and over again your entire life and still don’t become a master at anything. But what I mean is deliberate practice. Meaning that when you teach somebody, you are striving to do your best, right, and to improve yourself, I would suspect.
A: Yeah. True.
V: Yes? So it takes about 10,000 hours to reach this level of mastery in any kind of difficult skill. Organ playing, harmony, teaching, the same thing. Were you a good teacher at the beginning, or now? The same kind of teacher, or did you progress?
A: No, definitely not. Because it was very hard for me to teach at the beginning, it would take so much of my energy.
V: So definitely you advanced. That was my front point. So you see, if people practiced for let’s say 10 years or 14 years with the same occupation, like you teach, they would become relatively in a high state of improvement, I would say, in organ playing, or harmony, or whatever you want.
A: But maybe you wouldn’t need to set up a goal that takes 10 years for you to reach. Because you need I think the short term goals more.
V: Yes. But this is world class level. You could teach in any high school, high, not high but college or university in the world now, correct?
A: Yes, I could teach these subjects easily.
V: Mm hm. This is world class. So, for people who want to reach world class in their skill set, I think there is no shortcut. But for people who would just simply enjoy improving themselves day after day, and in their organ playing skills, reach a higher level little by little, I think they can take things less seriously. Right?
A: True, true.
V: Okay, guys. Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
Would you like to learn Allegretto in E Major from L'Organiste by Cesar Franck?
I hope you'll enjoy playing this piece yourself from my PDF score.
Thanks to Jeremy Owens for his meticulous transcription from the slow motion video.
What will you get?
PDF score with complete fingering written in which will save you many hours of work. Basic Level. 2 pages.
Let me know how your practice goes.
This score is free for Total Organist students.
Check it out here
What happens when you are constantly uploading new videos to your YouTube channel since 2011? Well, one of the things that happens is you can see your subscriber count and views increase over time (I have 2570 subscribers as of now and over 750k views). Another thing that happens is that you build a very extensive archive over time (over 1100 public videos). And the third thing - sometimes it's difficult to organize them.
For a while now I've been wanting to go through my most important YouTube playlists and make them complete. I'm focusing now on my compositions, organ duet performances with @laputis, organ demonstrations and improvisations.
Here are the updated playlists. Everything is now in one place.
Compositions of Vidas Pinkevicius (72 videos):
Organ Demonstrations (17 videos):
Pinkevicius Organ Duo (20 videos):
Vidas Pinkevicius Organ Improvisations (274 videos):
Previously I had to add the videos to each playlist manually but now I have added some rules for auto add. So hopefully from now on new videos that I'll upload in the future will be added automatically.
Today I'd like to share with you my last Saturday's improvisation recital about the Biblical story of "Exodus", performed together with VU Kinetic Theatre Troupe:
It would be interesting to see the video from downstairs but I don't have it yet. I hear one of my students have recorded it and I hope to be able to share it with you later.
Let me know if you'd like me to improvise in your venue.
Have you ever wanted to start to practice on the organ 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 organ playing skills and help you motivate to practice, my wife Ausra - @laputis and I invite you to join in a contest to submit your organ music and win some Steem.
Are you an experienced organist? You can participate easily. Are you a beginner? No problem. This contest is open to every organ music loving Steemian.
Here are the rules
Thank you everyone for participating! You all made us very happy with your entries. We have selected the following winners. You can congratulate them here.
DON'T MISS A THING! FREE UPDATES BY EMAIL.
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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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