Vidas: Let’s start Episode 122 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. Listen to the audio version here. Today's question was sent Robert, and he writes:
“My dream is to be able to play any hymn from our hymnal in church meetings when needed even with very short notice.”
So, Robert wants to be a liturgical organist, right Ausra?
Ausra: Yes, that’s how I understand this question.
Vidas: It’s very useful to be able to sightread any hymn when you need to, right? Because you don’t usually select the hymns unless you’re musical director.
Vidas: Ausra, can you sightread any hymn you want?
Ausra: Yes, I can do that.
Vidas: When did you discover this magical skill?
Ausra: A long time ago; I already cannot recall the exact date.
Vidas: Were you born with this skill?
Ausra: No, definitely not. I’m not Mozart; I’m no Bach!
Vidas: Neither was I. But I don’t think either Mozart or Bach was able to sightread any hymn when he was a baby.
Ausra: Well, I don’t know!
Vidas: So, you can probably build this skill over time.
Ausra: Definitely. You just have to do it every day. But, as Robert said in his previous question about having enough time to practice every day (and trying to procrastinate the practicing)--in that case, you will not be able to sightread hymns very well, unless you do it regularly every day.
Vidas: Mhm. So, people who are in a similar situation like Robert, who want to excel in sightreading hymns and be great liturgical organists, but feel kind of stuck in the current situation, and they cannot really force themselves to do this every day--they have to remember their goal every day, right?
Ausra: I think so, yes. And you just need to find out what is motivating you the most. Maybe meeting those congregation people, who will tell you after you play any hymn from the hymnal, “Wow, how can he do this this well, just sightread any hymn!” Maybe this will be good motivation enough for you to do it on a regular basis.
Vidas: Is this a good idea: to write down your goals?
Ausra: I think so, yes. For some people it is a good idea.
Vidas: To write down their goals, and leave them in a place they could see every day.
Ausra: On the refrigerator.
Vidas: Refrigerator, somewhere near the mirror, next to the TV, next to the organ--everywhere there are distractions, right? Maybe they could even save their goal on the screen of the smartphone when they turn it on!
Ausra: That’s right!
Vidas: Remember Hans Davidson and his motto?
Ausra: Yes, I remember that.
Vidas: What was his motto?
Ausra: Carpe diem.
Vidas: What does it mean?
Ausra: It means “seize the day” or “use the day.” Basically, don’t be lazy, and use every minute of your day.
Vidas: And we know what Hans Davidson has achieved already, right? He organized and managed to build amazing historical instruments and replicas, not only in his native Sweden, but also across the pond in America.
Ausra: That’s right.
Vidas: Right? And for this he will be remembered!
Ausra: Yes, of course.
Vidas: Yes, definitely. At least for this. I think even more, for more things. So...we only live once, right Ausra? It seems like a long life, right Ausra? I have this clock here on my screen; it says that I have 12,919 days left to live. And this is called a “Death Clock”--you can install it in your Chrome browser, and you insert your birthday, and it gives you the number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds, with approximate average length of human life. And I think it’s good to know how many days are left, and to make them count. As a reminder.
Ausra: Don’t you feel scared about this?!
Vidas: Not at all. I feel kind of motivated to make them count. Because it’s only my life--my one and only life. What do you think about that, Ausra? I didn’t tell you that before!
Ausra: It’s very scary, actually. I’m in shock.
Vidas: So, because we are the same age, you have the same number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds left, too.
Ausra: Well, I’m a little bit younger; and plus, I’m a woman. Usually women outlive men.
Vidas: Mmm, true. I could have inserted your birthday!
Ausra: Well I’m just making joke. Nobody knows exactly how much it will take for us to live.
Vidas: So yeah, you can google “death clock” if you want one in your browser. It’s kind of a nice reminder, at least for me. And it says, “Life is short; make the most of it.” And then, of course, sightread hymns every day!
Ausra: Yes, because if that’s your goal, you have to do it every day. Regularly.
Vidas: At least for 6 months, right? Or even less: let’s say 67 days. That’s as many days as it takes to build a habit. After that, it’s easy.
Vidas: Excellent. Ausra, what habit will you be building today?
Ausra: Well, I have so much to do that I don’t have time to build a new habit!
Vidas: So explain to us, what will you be doing in the afternoon?
Ausra: I will have a concert that I have to lead.
Vidas: Uh-huh, which is called “ABC.”
Vidas: What does it mean?
Ausra: I will be talking about music keys.
Vidas: Hmm. A Major, a minor, B Major, b minor…
Ausra: Yes, yes, that’s right.
Vidas: And schoolchildren will play a piece or two from each of these keys, right?
Ausra: That’s right, yes.
Vidas: And what will you say?
Ausra: Well, historically what each key meant. A little bit about composers and compositions. So on and so forth.
Vidas: Even though they will be playing on the piano, it’s important for them to realize the difference between the keys, right?
Ausra: That’s right. Although, I have like 12 pieces written in a minor for this particular concert. I don’t know what different 12 things I can say about the key of a minor.
Vidas: So this concert should be named not “ABC” but “A”!
Ausra: I think so, yes. And there is only one piece in the entire recital--it has like 29 pieces--written in b minor. And no B♭ Major, no b♭ minor, no B Major…
Vidas: Just one piece in b minor?
Ausra: One piece in b minor. So it’s not like ABC recital, but it’s like A and C, and B just, you know...I hope that girl who will play in b minor will not get sick.
Ausra: Because that way, we will have to rename the recital--or cancel it!
Vidas: Yeah, everything is on her now. The pressure!
Ausra: Yes. So...I have plenty to do today!
Vidas: Wonderful. How much time did you devote to preparing for this speech?
Ausra: About 8 hours.
Vidas: 8 hours?
Vidas: Was it a fun process for you?
Ausra: Yes, it was fun. But I would not like to repeat it soon.
Vidas: So, you said yes, but you kind of regret it...or not?
Ausra: Yes. Actually, I do.
Vidas: You would not say yes anytime soon, for this particular occasion?
Ausra: Oh no, oh no, no, I will not say yes, I think!
Vidas: Guys, if you want to have enough time for your dreams, and sightreading hymns, and doing things that you love--you have to learn to say no.
Ausra: That’s right.
Vidas: To say no to the projects that seem kind of interesting, but don’t necessarily align with your goals. They might align with other people’s goals, right? But since life is short, and for example, I have 12,919 days to live...I kind of feel that I have to do my own thing.
Ausra: Yes, that’s right.
Vidas: Which is meaningful. And no one else can do this for me, but me.
Ausra: Yes, I’m just glad that today it will be over! So that’s it.
Vidas: Excellent. What’s next for you? Bach recital, probably?
Ausra: Well yes, Bach recital; plus also I have some extra work, at work that I have to do.
Ausra: Which will take a lot of my time, too. But such is life.
Vidas: Excellent. Today I will also be practicing Bach recital pieces that I’ve chosen. They’re wonderful, and I think I’m going to add some fingering and pedaling, at least in some of them. One of them is Bach’s Passacaglia!
Ausra: Excellent piece. Very nice.
Vidas: Wonderful. So, stay tuned if you want to master this piece with my fingerings and pedalings, with ideal articulation: articulate legato! Thank you guys. 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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