#AskVidasAndAusra 13 - The head pastor told me he thinks I "perform" rather than simply "present" the accompaniments to the hymns. What should I do?
Today's question was posted by Sandra, our Total Organist student. She writes:
"Thank you so much for the wonderful first podcast about keeping a steady tempo! It was wonderful! I enjoyed the walk in the woods with you and loved hearing your beautiful voices and the birds singing. Also, to count out loud in a loud voice was wonderful advice and I am using it with my bell choir (who object to it more loudly than they will count out loud haha!) but I will tell them about your podcast! Again, MANY THANKS!!!!!"
The head pastor told me he thinks I "perform" rather than simply "present" the accompaniments to the hymns. What should I do? "
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Vidas: Hello, guys. This is Vidas …
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: We're starting our #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast 13. Today's question was posted by Sandra, our Total Organist student. She writes, "Thank you so much for the wonderful first podcast about keeping a steady tempo. It was wonderful. I enjoyed the walk in the woods with you, and loved hearing your beautiful voices and the birds singing. Also, to count out loud in a loud voice was wonderful advice, and I am using it with my bell choir, who object to it more loudly than they will count out loud. But I will tell them about your podcast. Again, many thanks. The question is this. The head pastor told me he thinks I perform rather than simply present the accompaniments to the hymns. Perform or present?"
What's the difference, Ausra? What do you think this pastor means?
Ausra: Well, maybe by the word perform he means Sandra exhibits herself, and maybe he wants her to just simply accompany and don't add anything. But I would say don't be afraid of performing. If you would just have to present hymns, we could use the recorder to play it. But because you are a living musician, they have to learn to appreciate you.
Vidas: Because you are an organist and human being, basically an artist, and artists usually do the things differently every time. As Ausra is saying, playing it simpler, just presenting, not always is a good idea. If you can do this in more advanced fashion, it's always better. Of course, there are some caveats, some disadvantages, because then you might look like concertizing to the congregation sometimes, who are not inclined to not listen to concerts, who want to pray, for example.
Vidas: Did you yourself, Ausra, ever have received such a comment, feedback, about your playing of hymns, for example?
Ausra: Not exactly in the same way as Sandra said, but, yes, I had that thing, especially when I was working at the Lutheran church in United States. I felt that pastor sometimes is unhappy. I think he felt a little bit envious to the organ, because it was such a crucial part of the liturgy, and I was sort of stealing attention from the altar. But I think that's the way it should be.
Vidas: You alternate attention.
Ausra: Yes, I alternate attention with the pastor.
Vidas: Yeah. Sometimes in Catholic churches, they especially dislike organists who can do more than asked, more than the bare minimal, just playing the hymns four-part harmony and using two or three cords, that's it. That's what they need, usually. But if you add the fourth cord or the fifth cord, oh, that's the concert, that's too much, you're showing off.
Ausra: I think if you want to serve in church and to do good things for congregation and for God, so you need to do your best.
Vidas: You present the best of your abilities to the congregation, to the Transcendent, to everything. You give your best, as you say, right?
Vidas: That's important. What would your skill be and artistic ability be if you only give just mediocre work, and if everybody around you knew you could do maybe five times better? Of course, you would be unhappy with yourself, if you just went through the motions, right?
Ausra: Yes. I think you need to talk, probably, more with your clergy and to explain your point of view.
Vidas: To connect, basically?
Vidas: Communicate in a diplomatic, of course, fashion.
Vidas: Because they have their own point of view, right?
Vidas: Which we not always understand. It's the liturgical and theological point of view, which church musicians aren't always even aware of. So if you could speak their language, in theological terms, then you will obviously find some common ground.
Vidas: Guys, I hope this advice was useful for you. Send us more questions, of course, either by email or use hashtag #AskVidasAndAusra and in the comments. Also, please subscribe to our blog at www.organduo.lt, because you will also get 10-day mini-course, which is free for this initial period. You will get 10 lessons on how to master any organ composition. This is extremely rare advice that we are giving, and the feedback was wonderful so far from people who already applied it in practice. Okay. 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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