I woke up trying
While someone was watching
To play the first bar.
Today's question was sent by Albert. Here's what he writes:
I'm a newbie. I play piano and I started organ practice / classes a few months ago. At the moment working in BWV 553 to 560 and trying to absorb everything I can about this universe. Now I'm going to listen to all your podcasts :-) Thanks for you great job..
As former pianist I find them pretty easy. :-) But, the most frustrating thing is the little independence of the feet that I have with respect the hands. Specifically when the feet and the left hand decide to go together, independently of what is written in the score :-D. Typical beginners problem, isn't' it?
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Vidas: Today we're starting Episode 31 of #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast. This question was sent by Albert. He writes, "I'm a newbie. I play piano, and I started organ practice and classes a few months ago, at the moment working in BWV 553 to 560, and trying to absorb everything I can about this universe. Now I'm going to listen to all of your podcasts. Thanks for your great job. As a former pianist, I find them pretty easy, but the most frustrating thing is the little independence of the feet that I have with respect to the hands, specifically when the feet and the left hand decide to go together independently of what is written in the score. Difficult beginner's problem, isn't it?"
Ausra, Albert is practicing eight little preludes and fugues, right?
Vidas: He's having a problem with hands and feet independence.
Vidas: Do you remember the time when you had the same problem?
Ausra: Yes, I remember that, during my freshman year at the Lithuanian Academy of Music.
Vidas: What was the first piece you played? Do you remember?
Ausra: It was G-minor prelude and fugue. The little one.
Vidas: First the prelude, and then fugue right away or not?
Ausra: Yes, and then C major prelude and fugue.
Vidas: So the fugues are, in this collection, usually much more difficult.
Ausra: Yes. But the during a spring exam, I played the prelude and fugue by Bach, in G major. Actually, it's very rarely played. I don't think I've ever heard it played after that.
Vidas: I just sight-read it last week.
Ausra: Yes. The last line of the fugue is very demanding for a beginner, because the hands are playing up and pedals are going down. I remember that spot just killed my brain during that time. It was very hard to do it.
Ausra: Especially, as Albert said, playing feet playing downwards and left hand - upwards.
Vidas: There is this place at the end of G-major of fugue. How did you overcome this problem?
Ausra: By practicing voices separately, just pedal and then pedal and right hand, and then pedal and left hand, working in combinations, and playing slowly at the beginning.
Vidas: Small fragments or entire fugue?
Ausra: Only that last line.
Vidas: Last line. So, Albert, if you are having a problem like Ausra had many years ago, probably it's best to slow down significantly, like 50% of the concert tempo, at least, and then repeatedly, many, many times, play a problematic spot, starting on the down beat and ending on the down beat, too. Because it will help you connect two fragments. And play in combinations, as Ausra says.
Ausra: That's the most helpful way to help yourself.
Vidas: Ausra, when a person cannot really play two voices together, left hand and pedals, does it mean that they should go back to solo part playing, left hand alone or pedal alone?
Ausra: Yes, I think so. Do single voice, first of all, and then add the second one.
Vidas: Exactly, because step adds significantly greater burdens. It actually doesn't have to be this way. The process has to be very gradual. So only progress with the next step when you can do previous step at least three times in a row without mistakes.
Ausra: But don't give up. This type of problem is one of the most common for most beginners. Because for most of us, if you write with your right hand, that means your left side is less developed, and it gets in trouble while playing left hand and foot pedal.
Vidas: Yeah. I remember that you pick up things with your right hand most of the time, not with the left, if you're right handed, of course.
Vidas: So then left hand needs to do more work grabbing some keyboard exercises and keyboard episode. You know what you could do? You could sight-read more pieces, not only from eight preludes and fugues, but pick any other collection that you love, and sight-read one piece a day, and not all the voices, because you will be struggling significantly, but maybe one line at a time. Maybe the left hand, maybe the pedals, maybe all parts separately, and take one piece a day.
Ausra, would you think this help in the long run?
Ausra: Yes, definitely it would.
Vidas: When you were studying at the Academy of Music during the freshman year, did you sight-read new music regularly?
Ausra: Not so much, because overall, I had so much music to learn that all my music was like sight-reading. I remember looking, at that big stack of music on my piano and I was just overwhelmed. We had to do organ playing, We had to do piano playing. We had to do choir conducting. A whole bunch of pieces. Then, of course, chamber music and so on.
Vidas: Organ music was like 45 minutes per semester, right?
Ausra: Well, at least. I think it was almost an hour.
Vidas: Yes. Two recitals per year you had to prepare? Piano music, at least 20 minutes per semester, right?
Vidas: Choir music also about the same amount.
Ausra: We had like six pieces of choir music to prepare for semester.
Vidas: And chamber music also maybe 15 minutes.
Ausra: Yes. A whole sonata for one semester.
Vidas: Imagine every week you are playing for one hour, two, three hours of new music, preparing for three recitals at the same time.
Vidas: It's always new things, basically. First couple of months is hell, right?
Vidas: But then you get better and better, and you sight-read things more easily, right?
Vidas: We really recommend sight-reading, sight-reading many more pieces than you would ever play and practice and polish. That's the best strategy that you could take in the long run.
Of course, don't forget that we have fingered scores and complete fingering and pedaling prepared for you of 8 little preludes and fugues. How many hours do you think that would save for people, writing it for themselves? How many hours would it take?
Ausra: Actually many, because writing down fingering is very time-consuming.
Vidas: Did you like writing it down?
Vidas: I didn't myself. But it's so helpful to have a score with fingering and pedaling, because it saves so much time. Well, if you know what you're doing, it's still at least one hour per page. If you're just writing it down very quickly, one hour per page. If you're practicing three page prelude and fugue from this collection, and you know exactly what you're doing, you would save at least three hours. But obviously people don't know how to write fingering and pedaling, right, Ausra?
Vidas: So it's a big help, maybe, 10, 20, 30 hours of saving time. It would help if you had these scores, so check them out. We really recommend it. Of course, if you sign up now for our Total Organist program, you can have all of them for free for 30 days, for the trial period. If you like it, keep it, and then keep subscribing as long as you want. But if you don't like it, you can just cancel before the month ends. You can do that at www.organduo.lt/total-organist. Of course, send us more questions. We love helping you grow.
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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