Vidas: Let’s start Episode 62 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. And today’s question was sent by Adeniyi, and he writes that he has no organ to use. And that’s his challenge, right Ausra? Can you practice organ without an organ?
Ausra: Well, you can do a lot of work not on the organ. But later you still have to apply it on the organ. Because you can do mental preparation, to work with a score without any musical instrument; then you can practice on the piano and do a lot of things, too; but finally, you still have to get access to an organ. What do you think about it?
Vidas: You’re right, mental practice, keyboard practice, all are very useful things, especially when you have to save time, if you travel, if you are in a room without an organ. But then let’s talk, Ausra, about getting access to a church organ someplace in your area. You don’t have to have an organ in your house or in your home?
Vidas: So obviously, there are churches nearby--maybe five miles around you, or ten miles around you, in your neighborhood, in your city, maybe in your region. If you live in a remote area, you can practice, let’s say, just once a week--
Vidas: And do all your work on the keyboard, and get better this way; but then, get access to a real organ with pedals, let’s say just once a week. So Ausra, how would you imagine the situation: You have no organ at home; you have a piano, for example; you want to practice organ playing; and you have a church in mind in our neighborhood. And pretend you are not a university organist! So you have to go someplace and ask. What’s your first step?
Ausra: Maybe I would just go to the nearest church, and just ask them if I could use the organ, time after time; and I would suggest something in exchange, maybe a volunteer program. And not necessarily to play during the service, at the beginning; if I would be just a beginner organist, maybe I would suggest to be an usher or to do some other kind of work.
Vidas: Yeah, especially if you have no organ playing skills at the beginning, it would be too strenuous for you--too stressful--to volunteer liturgical organ playing once a week, or do some other, professional work, right? But then of course later on, maybe in a few months, or even half a year, or the next year, you can definitely volunteer to play for them in the church service, in exchange of letting you practice in their room.
Vidas: Do you think the church administration would be willing to do this kind of exchange?
Ausra: I hope so. Maybe not each church would agree on that; but I think most of them, yes.
Vidas: Because most of the churches need volunteers, right? They are not too packed with volunteers; there may be some work they could offer you to do in exchange of your services. Or maybe they would need some kind of other help. Maybe you know how to do computer work or maybe you can do some manual work, too.
Ausra: Yes. There are all kinds of possibilities.
Vidas: So, the church is one possibility. Do you know of any other possibilities to get access to the instrument in your area?
Ausra: Well, there might be some neighbor who has an instrument…
Vidas: For example, if you have a group of friends who are interested in organ playing, and one of them has an organ at home, so let’s say three of them or five of them could get together and play recitals for one another, and also get regular exchange practice on that instrument. Maybe make a donation for the maintenance of the instrument, and the use of their time. That’s possible, if you live around organists. So usually that happens in a city situation, not in a remote area.
Ausra: Not so much.
Vidas: Okay, but what if you have this access once in a while to the church organ, but you want to practice regularly on a keyboard without pedals organ music which has a pedal part. Can you do that, Ausra?
Ausra: Well, you can do that. You can just draw yourself a pedalboard, and imagine that you’re playing it.
Vidas: Or print out a pedalboard from the internet.
Vidas: Glue the parts together to make the paper sheets larger, and a real-size pedalboard can be assembled in six or twelve sheets of paper; and you can put them on the floor, right?
Ausra: And if you will be able to play on such a pedalboard, then definitely you will be able to play a real one. Because this way is much harder!
Vidas: Do you remember, Ausra, in our Unda Maris organ studio, we have a number of keyboards and pedalboards printed out.
Vidas: And some people do use them. And sometimes we even do coordinated, simultaneous practice, when one person plays on the real organ, and the rest of them play on the silent keyboards or paper sheets. Right?
Ausra: Yes, it works very well.
Vidas: They hear in their head what is sounding, but they all practice together at the same time, the same piece. Very very slowly, of course. Maybe not all of them are at the same level; maybe one is beginner level, another is intermediate level, so intermediate level organist would play all parts together, and beginner would play just one part alone, right?
Ausra: Yes. So there are various solutions, actually, for a situation like this. You just have to explore your area and to check all the possibilities. And I hope that you will find a right solution for you.
Vidas: And we hope to help you grow as an organist further; so please send us more of your questions, and simply reply to our messages that you are getting from this blog at www.organduo.lt as a subscriber.
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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Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.