Vidas: Let’s start Episode 121 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. Listen to the audio version here. And this question was sent by Robert. He writes that “I’m not taking enough time every day to practice.” So Ausra, do you think that he doesn’t have time enough, or he cannot force himself to practice?
Ausra: Well, from his statement, it sounds like he might be probably too lazy to practice, like we all are sometimes. At least, I had such an impression, after reading his statement: “I am not taking enough time every day to practice.”
Vidas: “Lazy” might be a cause for this, but I think this inner drive should come first, right? If you’re so motivated, and passionate about that, and if you want it so badly, then you don’t have to really force yourself. It comes naturally, right?
Ausra: Well, then you will understand that practice is a privilege; and yes, you will practice every day.
Vidas: I’ve heard an explanation about this issue: that you have to feel like a gun is pointing at your head, and then you will feel motivated to do whatever it takes!
Ausra: Well, what I personally think is, I think your practice needs to become your habit. It’s like having lunch or dinner. You eat every day--I believe so, yes? So that’s what you have to do with practice: it just has to become a part of your routine, of your schedule, of all the necessary things that you do.
Vidas: But Ausra, what if you stopped eating or drinking? For a week? For a month?
Ausra: Well, you will die.
Vidas: You will die, yes? So that’s why we keep eating and drinking. What would happen if Robert (or anyone else in his shoes) would stop playing?
Vidas: Nothing. That’s why he is not taking enough time every day to practice.
Ausra: But, because he already sent us this question, that shows that he actually worries about it. And actually, without practicing, he doesn’t feel well enough.
Vidas: Mhm, mhm.
Ausra: That he has that--I don’t know what to call it, inner guilt?
Vidas: Yeah, it’s like this dog that we have to feed, and he’s saying, “Feed me, feed me, feed me!” and we forget every day, right, and he dies after three weeks.
Vidas: I have this dream once in awhile. Or, you had this dream right?
Vidas: About a hamster?
Ausra: Yes, yes.
Vidas: I had another dream that I would skip classes--I would teach music classes in some school, and I would forget those classes for six months. So that would be...uhh, not a nice feeling in the morning. It’s kind of like that with Robert, too. He feels this guilt, I think, too; because he wants to succeed, but it takes willpower to do this. Ausra, is there any shortcut, silver bullet, or magical pill?
Ausra: I don’t think so. It would be too easy--too simple!
Vidas: Anybody could succeed, right?
Vidas: And anybody would succeed, actually.
Vidas: So, the best I can advise Robert is of course, imagine what bad would happen if he stopped practicing for himself--what life would look like if he didn’t practice for six months, for him. He has to visualize it, right? Or the other way around--imagine how his life would be if he practiced every day for six months, and what he could achieve in that time, right?
Ausra: Yes. And of course, from his question, I could also understand that maybe he practices every day, but not enough.
Vidas: Hmm. Could be.
Ausra: So, that could be another issue: that you know, in that case, if he practices every day, but not enough, then he will never play well enough.
Vidas: What is enough?
Ausra: Well, it depends on how good you are already, and what your goals are. It’s different for each person.
Vidas: Is 15 minutes enough?
Ausra: I don’t think so.
Vidas: Minimum of 15 minutes a day. If you are, you know, so busy, so tired, so exhausted, that you kind of feel like skipping today, we say: do just 15 minutes, and you will thank yourself the next day that you didn’t break the chain. Right? But if you’re serious about it, it should be more.
Ausra: Yes, of course!
Vidas: At least what?
Ausra: Well, at least an hour.
Vidas: At least an hour, probably.
Ausra: At the very minimum.
Vidas: Mhm. If you want to learn a few more advanced pieces and go further along into the perfection of organ art. It’s not easy to force yourself, right? Because life is so full of complications, and we have so many distractions every day, right? TV, computers, phones everywhere, and everything is shiny and wonderful… And they call to us: “Pick me, pick me, pick me! Do this, do this, do this! Forget organ practice! Just once!” So Ausra, what motivates you to practice?
Ausra: Upcoming recitals. Due dates.
Vidas: External motivation.
Ausra: Yes, yes.
Vidas: Hmm. I probably would practice less than now if I didn’t have my concert schedule lined up. So yes, guys, if you suffer from this trouble of not making enough effort and practicing every day, then schedule some public performances.
Vidas: That will be helpful, right?
Ausra: That will force you to practice enough!
Vidas: Does it have to be a full recital, Ausra?
Ausra: Not necessarily.
Vidas: What do you mean?
Ausra: Well, you could do just one piece, I don’t know; it depends on your situation in life.
Vidas: Could you find an organ friend in a church--like, an organist--and get to know him or her, and ask for permission to perform a postlude or prelude or communion piece…
Ausra: Of course you can do that. Yes, you can do that.
Vidas: In a month, let’s say, right?
Vidas: And then, there you go. You have a deadline.
Ausra: That’s right.
Vidas: Or two pieces, if you are more confident. Or, for people who want to advance even further, they could do half an hour of some sort of celebratory recital after some festivity in the church, like Easter.
Ausra: Yes, because I believe that there is no better motivation to practice than fear of public performances coming up.
Vidas: Everybody’s afraid, right? You think that you will mess up your playing, and everybody will make fun of you, and your career will be over, and your life will be over, and you will go to prison, and you’ll die eventually.
Ausra: I don’t think you will go prison if you didn’t play a recital well. I hope not!
Vidas: To organ prison!
Vidas: Where all the bad organists are staying! Or you will go to purgatory! Would you like to go to purgatory?
Ausra: No. No.
Vidas: Where all the bad organists are staying? Who play only white keys on weekdays and black keys on Sundays and festivities?
Ausra: Yes, that’s funny.
Vidas: So guys, look seriously and decide what you want to achieve within the next six months, right? It could be very small: learn and master 2, 3, 4 pieces, maybe. Just like that. And then, schedule some external accountability, like public performance. And then you will thank yourself later, because you will have to force yourself. Right, Ausra?
Ausra: That’s right, yes.
Vidas: Thank you, guys, for listening. Thank you for sending us your questions; we love helping you grow. 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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