Vidas: Let’s start Episode 69 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast now. And today’s question was sent by Matt, and Matt has a problem with pedal accuracy, especially across different pedalboards--flat or curved. So, adjusting to different pedalboards, Ausra--was that ever a problem for you?
Ausra: Yes, it was a problem.
Vidas: So I guess this is a problem for a majority of organists, I would say.
Ausra: I guess so, yes.
Vidas: For me, too, I think, when I was a student...whenever I discovered a new organ, pedal playing would suffer. At first, right? I would require maybe a few days, at least, to adjust to a different pedalboard. How about you, Ausra? How many days did you have to have, at the beginning, to feel comfortable with the pedals?
Ausra: Well...many days!
Vidas: Three, four, five?
Ausra: Yes, something like that.
Vidas: Mhmm. So of course, when you’re a beginner, it’s very natural to suffer with pedal playing and adjusting to different pedals. But, what can we suggest to facilitate this progress? Obviously, Ausra, play more instruments, right?
Ausra: Yes. And do more of coordination exercises.
Vidas: What do you mean, coordination?
Ausra: Well, play trio sonatas!
Vidas: Trio sonatas. What if a person has a very weak pedal technique? Maybe not well-developed. Do you think trio sonatas will be too difficult?
Ausra: Well, yes, if it’s just a beginner; but still at some point you will have to play trio sonatas.
Vidas: Maybe you could say trio texture, not sonata.
Ausra: Yes, that’s true.
Vidas: Maybe three voices--take three voices in your piece. Or how about hymns? Would that be helpful to develop hands and feet coordination, at first?
Vidas: At the basic level.
Ausra: Yes, definitely! It’s very hard, for example, to play pedal part in the pedals- bass line--and to play in left hand only the tenor voice. It always gives trouble for people, because it’s so hard to coordinate. If you can play it, then definitely you can play trio texture too.
Vidas: A simple trio. Because what happens in hymns is that most of the time, voices move in quarter notes, or in general, equal note values. In trio sonatas, you have all kinds of note values, so that’s like the top level of advancement with hands and feet coordination. But you start, as Ausra says, simply.
Vidas: Simply, with a simple technique. Like a hymn.
Ausra: Yes. And while adjusting to the pedal, it would be very nice that you would not exercise always on the same instrument. If you have a possibility, switch between them. Practice one day on a flat pedalboard, and another day on a curved pedalboard, if it’s possible. That way it will be easier for you to adjust to a new organ and to a new pedalboard.
Vidas: Organists are different. Organist profession (and organ playing) is different from piano playing, right? Because pianos are quite similar everywhere.
Ausra: Well, if you would ask a pianist, he or she would definitely not agree with you!
Vidas: Of course. But they haven’t seen the huge variety of organs! So pianos are relatively similar, right?
Ausra: Well, yes...in our eyes, yes!
Vidas: Yes, in our eyes. But every organ is unique. Every organ...Maybe there are two identical organs, but they are positioned in a different space, and that’s already different, right? A different feeling. For example--Ausra, let’s take this 1776 Casparini organ inside the Holy Ghost Church here in Vilnius--
Vidas: ...and recently, in Rochester, New York, they built a replica of this instrument in Christ Church. Which means they have a complete, functioning, new instrument built in the style of Casparini--like exact or a very similar instrument to that of Holy Ghost. Do you think, Ausra, that it’s exactly the same as Holy Ghost?
Ausra: Definitely not--
Ausra: --because the space is so different.
Vidas: Because the organ is new, as well.
Ausra: Yes. Holy Ghost Church in Vilnius has much larger acoustics.
Vidas: And the organ is newly built, so all the parts are, sort of, functioning differently from the original Baroque period that we have in Vilnius.
Ausra: And I think it has different tuning, too.
Vidas: So far, yes, because the temperament problem has not been solved yet, here in Vilnius. So yes, it’s different, although the two instruments are supposed to be almost the same. So don’t despair when you encounter different organs and you feel like you make a lot of mistakes with your feet, right? It’s just a matter of getting as many organs under your belt as possible.
Ausra: Yes, it will get easier, in time.
Vidas: How many instruments do you have to visit and try, Ausra, first, to break to the next level--to get to the next stage?
Ausra: Probably ten.
Vidas: And every tenth instrument will feel like a small breakthrough, right?
Vidas: I think that’s a very valid approach for people. Okay, we hope this was useful to you guys. Please send us more of your questions. And you can do that by subscribing to our blog at www.organduo.lt if you haven’t done so already, and replying to our messages. That would be the easiest way to send us your questions. We love helping you grow as an organist. Okay 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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