Vidas: Let’s start Episode 100 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. And this question was sent by Paul, and he writes that he is a slow learner. First of all, let’s celebrate, a little bit, our small achievement: 100 podcasts of simply helping people to grow in organ playing, answering their questions. Isn’t that great, Ausra?
Ausra: Yes, it seems so incredible that it’s already 100 podcasts. I don’t know how much we have to talk about!
Vidas: When we first started, we didn’t realize we would go that far, right? It was supposed to be a limited number of episodes--maybe 10, maybe 20.
Ausra: Yes, maybe 30, but not 100!
Vidas: Yeah, people kept writing to us and kept asking these questions, and we were amazed, right?
Ausra: Yes; and it’s really nice to help people, and especially it’s nice to receive a response to our answers. It’s very nice.
Vidas: Yeah, and sometimes we put those nice letters we get into our folder called “Love Letters,” which is basically many thanks from people and encouragements for us to continue. So thank you so much, guys, this is really wonderful and we appreciate it a lot.
Ausra: Yes, thank you so much! So now, let’s go back to Paul’s question. And really...what do you think he means by being a slow learner? Does he compare himself with somebody else?
Vidas: Exactly. How do we know if we learn something “slowly” or “fast?”
Ausra: Yes, how do we set those boundaries?
Vidas: For example, let’s say a piece is 5 pages long, and we learn it in 1 month. Is it fast or slow?
Ausra: So, I think it’s always a question mark…
Ausra: Yes, a very relative thing.
Vidas: Do we advise people to compete with somebody else?
Ausra: Well...yes and no. Because for some people, having that competition is a good thing, because it makes you to work faster and to develop necessary skills faster. But for other people, that competition might just simply destroy all passion for organ. Or anything.
Vidas: I think the best competition is with ourselves, right?
Vidas: Because we have to compare ourselves to ourselves yesterday, or ourselves a week ago, or a month ago, or a year ago. Only then will we know our true advancement, true level of how we progress, if we are on the right path or not. If we compare ourselves with other organists, who we listen to on YouTube or in recitals...as Ausra says, sometimes it is inspiring, but more often than not, it is discouraging, I think.
Ausra: Yes. If, for example, we would have to compare our childhood experience in Lithuania and our experience while studying in the United States, what could you tell about all that--teacher and student relationship?
Vidas: In Lithuania, there were several organ professors at the Academy of Music, and each of them had their studio organ class--maybe 5, maybe 6 people total. And generally, they were closed among themselves, right? They felt sort of a competition between other students of other professors. There wasn’t any atmosphere of collaboration in this kind of setting. Whereas in America it was completely different, right Ausra?
Ausra: Yes; and in Lithuania, I always felt that all professors, no matter with whom you studied, would say negative things to you, like, “You did that, and that, and that, and that, badly!”
Vidas: So that’s European--we have presenting problems...
Ausra: Well, maybe not the European way, but Lithuanian, definitely, yes.
Vidas: Ex-Soviet way, basically; because in earlier times, talking about negative things was very common, and not so much of optimistic, inspiring things.
Ausra: So, how did you feel about it?
Vidas: To me, I always wanted more freedom; so whenever somebody tried to push me, I kind of resisted, because my mind wanted to be free from those boundaries, and I wanted to explore myself all those musical adventures. So in that case, we had one organ professor, Gediminas Kviklys, who was the best, because he let us do whatever we wanted. Of course, by that time we were developed enough--and could be responsible enough--for our own progress. In America it was a completely different story, because it was so supportive and collaborative between organ studios; right, Ausra?
Ausra: And that supportive atmosphere--telling good things, nice things to students--made you want to do even more, and to give yourself more, and to practice more, and to become the best. And it was very nice.
Vidas: But other colleges and conservatories have different environments, because some of them are very competitive.
Ausra: Yes, that’s true.
Vidas: And I’m not sure how students get along in those organ studios, but they must feel some kind of competition, because they constantly compete in international and national organ competitions among themselves, right Ausra?
Ausra: And that’s what I told you before: for some people it’s a very good thing, because they want to compete all the time. They want to feel that pressure.
Vidas: Because they don’t have enough pressure from themselves?
Vidas: They have external motivation.
Ausra: But actually, I don’t feel that I have to have that external pressure, because it makes me feel guilty all the time and just incompetent.
Vidas: That’s true for me, too. I want to be free, and I want to do the things that I want to do. So, I then compare myself...with myself!
Ausra: Yes, so like Paul said, be learning slowly--that’s your way to do it. And it’s ok. Maybe you will become a faster learner with time, maybe not. But don’t despair. Just keep doing what you are doing. And it’s much better to learn things slowly but correctly, than to learn them faster and incorrectly.
Vidas: Of course, our daily efforts compound; and if you just get better one percent a day, the next day you also get better one percent; but plus that fraction of the percent you got better yesterday; and a week from that day, you get better also one percent, but also plus all those seven percent combined. So it compounds; and after one year--I don’t know, I have to do the math, but--it’s more than one thousand percent!
Ausra: Definitely, yes.
Vidas: If you do this.
Ausra: What could accelerate your progress a little bit, maybe, is if you could find time to practice a day not once, but let’s say, twice; let’s say one time in the morning and one time in the afternoon/evening. That might do things faster. What do you think about it, Vidas?
Vidas: It’s an excellent strategy, because our minds can only focus for so long without breaks. So maybe in the morning, for some time before you get tired; and then, you see, your day will already be a good day, because you have already practiced in the morning. You already did the thing that matters to you the most. And then, if anything happens and you don’t have time to practice in the afternoon or in the evening, it’s still a day not wasted, in this case. So early morning practices are always the best; and then if you can do a second practice, that’s even better.
Ausra: Yes; so try that, and you’ll see if it works for you.
Vidas: Yeah, it doesn’t have to be a very long practice, right? Maybe for half an hour before you take a break and continue--that’s completely possible, right Ausra?
Vidas: Thank you so much, guys, for listening to us, for applying our tips in your practice. It’s really a small milestone we have achieved, with 100 podcasts of answering your questions. Without our listeners it wouldn’t be possible. And keep them rolling--keep sending your questions to us, because we want to reach maybe another hundred, right Ausra?
Ausra: I’m not thinking so far ahead, but...it would be nice!
Vidas: But most importantly, we hope you'll do something with this advice. It really makes a difference.
Excellent. This was Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: And remember, when you practice…
Ausra: 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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