Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start Episode 238 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. This question was sent by Prince. He writes:
I’m Prince from Ghana....l wish to become a great organist in future but my problem is my family can not afford to buy me an organ so l move from church to church playing the organ and l also cannot practice everyday because l don't have the organ in my house so my organ playing does not improve...
So, having an organ (or any type of instrument) at home is a great privilege, Ausra, right?
A: True, yes. But unfortunately not everybody can afford it. And if we are talking about organ--how many years ago did we get our organ at home? 10 years ago, probably?
V: When we returned from the States.
A: But not right away. We did it not right away.
A: I think this was like about 10 years ago, only. And at that time, we already had established careers, you know, and had our doctoral degrees. So before that, since my childhood, I had only a piano at home. And as for organ, I always practiced organ either at the Academy of Music or at church; and I did a lot of mental practice, too. What about you, Vidas?
V: When I was growing up, I of course had a piano at home. And then, this piano had a feature that it had a middle pedal: you could press that pedal, and the sound would be quite soft. Or very soft, actually--I think too soft, for that instrument. But the good thing about that was that I could practice late at night, and nobody could hear me!
A: I didn’t have such a pedal, so I would always have to practice at home during the daytime, because otherwise I would just bother my neighbors, and people would be complaining! So it’s not an easy thing to do when you are trying to become a professional; but that’s life, and you have to adjust. It only means that when you finally access an instrument, you need to make your practice as efficient as you can.
V: What do you mean?
A: Well, every day, know what you want to improve. What you want to do with the piece you are practicing. Or you know, with your technique.
V: So, right now for example, we have an organ at home, and we can play whenever we want.
A: But before that, you know, there were many years without an organ at home, or for example during our doctoral studies in the States…
A: We didn’t have any instrument in our apartment. Because we just rented an apartment, and didn’t have any instruments. So we did all the practice at school or at church.
V: So, finding an organ or a church would probably be the #1 option for Prince.
A: True, true.
V: Or people who are in his shoes.
A: Or maybe to get access at home to any type of keyboard--not necessarily organ, because organ is so expensive.
V: Maybe it’s a temporary solution to buy a used electronic keyboard. And they could be quite expensive--
V: Used, you know, not new. Maybe not in perfect condition--you don’t need that. It’s just for practice, and it’s just temporary, until you will find something at least better or until you can afford to invest. Until you become a professional and you will have some savings, or you say to yourself, “Okay, I’m a professional at this, I have to have good practice tools, like a carpenter would buy good trade tools, and plumbers,” right? If they are professionals. But at first, if they are just starting out, they don’t know if they will be professionals or not, so they just probably use whatever they have on hand.
A: And you know, Prince mentioned that he practices at church.
A: But not every day. So maybe for now, try to reach such a thing that the church would allow you to practice every day. And you know, do something nice back to the church that they would want to let you in to practice. Volunteer.
V: Volunteer, or give donations.
A: Well, as I understood, Prince’s family cannot make donations--they cannot afford to have an instrument at home. So then, volunteer for the church.
V: Yeah basically--you either donate your time or your money.
A: In this case, you will have to donate your time.
V: Right. Whatever you have more of in your hands. And if you don’t have time and don’t have money--some people have that, right, Ausra?--
V: What does it mean, then?
A: That either you don’t know how to plan your time, or you know, practicing organ is not so important for you.
V: Or that other people are exploiting you.
A: Yes, that’s also true.
V: And you don’t know how to say no.
V: So you have to learn how to say no to things that don’t really matter to you. Because otherwise, you will end up doing only things that matter to other people. I mean, it might sound quite selfish, Ausra, what I’m saying now. But I’m not saying from the selfish perspective, I’m saying from the perspective of an artist. Right? And artists need to find solutions how and when they could improve their art. Right? It’s a priority.
I know, I know, I know what you mean, because for many many years I didn’t know how to say no to people, when they would ask me to do some favors for them.
V: And you know, for a while, I just felt exhausted after making other people happy, and working for them. But you know, then I realized that I would not be able to do anything for myself, or even rest enough. And that’s not good, actually.
V: Yeah, you live only once, I think; and this saying-no skill is very very important, especially later in life. Maybe in youth, people can say yes to many many things, try out as many things as they even can, to find out what their true focus in life is, because not too many people know right from the beginning...
V: What their mission in life is. But once they know the purpose, they must grab that purpose and never let it go. So, that’s what Prince should do, too, I think, with the church. Volunteer, maybe playing once a month for them. If he can play, you know--if he’s in this level of church service playing.
V: Mhm. If not, he has to improve first, get experience.
A: And of course, there are other jobs in church that you can do as a volunteer.
V: Yes, definitely.
A: Greeting people before the service and after the service, usher, acolyte and all other things.
V: So basically, really become an indispensable member of the community, right?
A: That’s right.
V: So that people would miss you if you didn’t show up in that church.
A: And then you will have access to an organ all the time.
V: Right. It would be a very natural thing, if you just ask them, by that time, when you do for them so much that they would say, “Of course! Why didn’t you ask us before?” Right?
A: That’s right, yes.
V: “You’re doing so many things for our community!” And that’s the least expensive way to get access to the organ.
V: Make friends from the local community, and help them. Be helpful.
V: Okay, guys. We hope this was useful to you, because many many people don’t have an organ at home, right? I recently found out that one of our colleagues has an organ at home, but she said that since the time that she bought that organ, she’s practicing less and less, actually.
A: That’s a paradox, but it often happens. Because you know that you can play any time, as you wish, it prevents you, actually, from practicing.
V: Yes. It’s a great privilege to have access to the organ all the time, but it doesn’t guarantee you that you will sit down and practice.
A: Yes, you have to have motivation.
V: And motivation comes from knowing that your time is very very limited.
V: Thank you guys! This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
A: 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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