SOPP591: My dream is to get into the Royal Academy of Music and after that become a professional organist
Vidas: Hello and welcome to Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast!
Ausra: This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better organist.
V: We’re your hosts Vidas Pinkevicius...
A: ...and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene.
V: We have over 25 years of experience of playing the organ
A: ...and we’ve been teaching thousands of organists online from 89 countries since 2011.
V: So now let’s jump in and get started with the podcast for today.
A: We hope you’ll enjoy it!
V: Let’s start episode 591 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Justina. And she writes,
Hello, my name is Justina Pupeikytė and my dream is to get into the Royal Academy of Music and after that become a professional organist. But there are few things that are keeping me down. I have very poor sight reading skills and weak transposition. I also learn musical pieces slowly. I am not talking about slow tempo while playing that concerns me, but the time that it takes for me to learn the piece and it's long. Can you help me?
V: So Ausra, I think Justina’s question is kind of similar to the previous podcast conversation that we have recorded just a moment ago that Hervey has submitted, right?
A: Yes, that’s right.
V: Except Justina also is interested in transposition skills.
A: Yes. So basically, I think all these three things are connected in between: the poor sight reading skills, and weak transposition, and also that the learning process is very long for her. I think these are all connected in between them. Well, the Royal Academy of Music is some of my students are studying there. Not organ, but other instruments, and well, we were really good, at least at the music theory. So I don’t know what Justina’s musical background is, but of course to be accepted to the Royal Academy of Music is quite an ambitious goal.
V: Mm hm. Your students who are studying at the Royal Academy of Music…
A: Actually, some of them have graduated.
V: Graduated. They of course have graduated from the National Čiurlionis School of Art in Lithuania. So basically, they have professional level 12 year training beforehand.
V: Twelve year. It’s like our gymnasium - twelve years of curriculum, very intense, starting from 6 or 7 years of old. So, imagine how much work has Justina to do in order to catch up.
A: I don’t know where she is.
A: Where she is studying right now. And what is her musical background.
V: But comparing for example, your students who were admitted to Royal Academy of Music, can you have one example in your mind. Not out loud, but just in your mind. How were sight reading skills of these people? Better?
A: I think yes.
V: They didn’t complain.
A: Well, that’s right. But of course, most of them were not majoring in piano performance or organ performance. They were string players…
A: Harp, yes. Violin.
V: Mm hm. Yeah. So basically, you have to be good at sight reading at your instrument first of all.
V: In order to get admitted. Hm. What can we suggest? Oh of course. If Hervey’s (in the previous podcast conversation) goal is to have above average results, I think Justina’s goal must be very professional level.
V: Not above average, but the best she can, basically. The better, the more advanced level, the better.
A: Because the thing is, if she thinks that after graduating from Royal Academy of Music she will be a professional organist she will become, I would say that if you really want to be really good at your instrument, you need to be already professional before entering there.
V: Mm hm.
A: A school like this. Because look, well, all of these abilities to play instrument really well, we need to be start forming at a very young age.
V: Mm hm.
A: And I don’t, I’m not telling that you need to start to play organ in the elementary school - this is physically most often impossible, but maybe you need to have a very good piano background.
V: Mm hm. You’re right, Ausra. I think what, the other thing that could be said is that Justina needs to take it very very seriously, and practice it like, not one hour a day, not two hours a day probably. Because your students, obviously they spend hours, several hours per day at least with their instruments, right? They win competitions, international competitions, before…
A: Yes, that’s true.
V: ...they even apply.
A: And since Justina is talking about weak transposition skills, it means that she might not be ready, you know, not have enough qualification of music theory, too. Because this is all connected at the end.
V: Yes. You have to understand. Schools like Royal Academy of Music or any type of conservatory or very high level college or university, they, all they do actually is expand your repertoire, right? But you don’t start from scratch there. You are already at a very high level before entering that school. So you learn to play even virtuoso pieces at the earlier level, in the high school level, right? And then you apply and get admitted, and then you broaden your musical horizons: music theory, and probably harmony, even advanced harmony and music history as well, organology, all those things, and obviously you learn tons of new repertoire in your field. You become kind of very prolific performer, I would say. You can have maybe several hours of recital program at your fingertips and your feet, right? On moment’s notice. That’s what these schools do. That’s the end result. But before you get admitted, you have to have very high level also before that. You have to be able to play virtuoso repertoire basically.
A: And does she that you actually need to practice every day a lot, very diligently, and for many hours.
V: Yes, and for many years, too. I don’t know, maybe this could be sped up, not 12 years study, maybe could be 6 years study, could be, for people who are highly motivated.
A: But still, you cannot achieve in half a year what you might have achieved in 10 years.
V: No, it’s too difficult. Life is short.
A: Well, maybe if we are talking about music theory for example, then maybe yes, something might be done really fast if you have big motivation and you spend a bit of time and you have the mind of a grown up...
V: Mm hm.
A: Human. Then you might do the progress faster. But if we are talking about all this technical matters, meaning playing technique, you cannot push it forward too much.
V: It takes time.
A: It takes time. Because if you will force yourself, you might injure your hands.
V: Yes, yes, people do that sometimes.
A: Yes, people do that, and we do that quite often actually, in the musician field.
V: They overextend themselves, they practice for let’s say 6 or 8 hours per day without resting. Their body is tense. They forget to breathe, stretch, take a walk, rest, and they break down.
A: So I would say, if for example I would be in Justina’s shoes, first of all what I would have to have is to know admission requirements of Royal Academy of Music.
V: Yeah, what kind of repertoire do you need…
A: Yes, what kind of repertoire you need to play.
V: How much repertoire also.
A: What kind of examinations you have to take in, and then to, some of the schools, they might send you all that information and even some tests to see how far are you from those requirements.
V: Mm hm.
A: And then you have to set up a goal and a plan, how fast you might achieve.
V: Very good, Ausra! Do you think that recording your results, your incremental results and publishing them, let’s say on YouTube channel, would be helpful for her to track her progress?
A: Well, yes, but it might take too much time, and in this case she might not have it. What I would do, another thing I would do, I would try to make some connections to the people, to the faculty members of Royal Academy of Music, if she is going, she wants to study organ performance, she might contact the faculty members.
V: Mm. You mean she could go there once she has connections and play informally to professors and see what they can say about what level…
A: Yes, or you know, to send her recording of her performance. I think that’s the easiest way to do it.
V: Oh yeah, now you cannot travel.
A: I think that’s the easiest way to do it.
A: If somebody would be willing to hear her.
V: Yes. And critique her video or audio.
V: Better video, of course.
A: Yes, I think for these things the video is better.
V: So yeah. Track her progress, and find out your requirements.
A: Yes, because if you are interested in certain school, it’s always good that you will have a faculty member that would be interested in having you coming to study into that school.
V: Remember, it’s a prestigious school, right? Top 20, top 10 school in the world probably, for organs. And they have applicants from all over the globe coming every year. So they don’t have too much interest in a relatively unknown person, right? We have to have personal connection.
V: Or be extremely good.
A: Or have a lot of money.
V: Oh. (laughs) I hadn’t thought about it, but yes, that would work, too. All right, guys. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: We hope this has been helpful to you. I think Justina’s goal, just for ending this conversation, I might add that it’s a little too ambitious for her right now. She needs to divide it, subdivide it into manageable units, right? What is the first step, second step, and then third step. If she takes those steps, she will progress in a timely manner. Not too overwhelming. What do you say, Ausra?
A: Yes, I think that’s a good suggestion.
V: Yeah. Step by step. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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SOPP536: How can a self-taught organist become proficient and get to the master level of the organ?
Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra
V: Let’s start episode 536, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This questions was sent by Kirk. And he writes:
It has been a long time since I have written you. How are you doing? I am working out of Marcel Dupre 79 Chorales for Organ. Talk about working on coordination, for me to do them I am practice between 50-60 MM. And if I mess up I go to the measure and practice at least 10 times just to start.
Question besides having a teacher, how can a self-taught organist become proficient and get to the master level of the organ?
V: Well, Ausra, I guess our website is all about being self-taught and getting help, not from a physical teacher but from online sources, right?
A: Yes, true. If I would be in Kirk’s shoes and I would like to learn organ, to play organ, to be proficient, I would gather information that I need, let’s say from our web site or in general, books, and get the scores that I need. Then I would keep working and following those guidelines. And then of course I would record my work and listen back to it. Because I would have to be teacher for myself so I would have to listen to my recordings and be critical about them and then try to improve them. But of course, it’s always nice when somebody else will listen to your recordings and excites you.
V: Then you need to have a teacher—online teacher, right?
A: Yes, online teacher.
V: Mmm-hmm. Get online coaching. I guess with technology today it’s possible to live in one side of the world and be taught on another side of the world, or get access to a teacher if you are living in an area without teachers. Right? It’s all about just being open to new possibilities. But as he says, practicing each measure ten times at least to improve and avoid mistakes, is a good start.
A: Yes, it is. Although I myself never count how many times I have practiced certain measure or certain spot. I’m not a number person so if I would have to count each time how many times I played certain measure, I would just give up practicing at all.
V: You know, there are all kinds of people who prefer methodical learning, counting the repetitions. Some don’t because it’s boring for them. Some prefer scales and arpeggios and exercises. Some want to go straight to music. I think a person has to choose whatever works for them and stick with it. Any method will work. Maybe some methods work better than others but as long as you keep practicing regularly and diligently, you will keep doing progress.
A: But you know about this playing, let’s say certain measures, certain numbers of times, yes?
A: I think it doesn’t work. You know why? Because I don’t know any of piece of music that would be equally hard from first measure to the last measure. There are always easy measures in the piece and there are always harder and very hard measures in the piece. And if you will play exactly the same number, each measure, then certain spots will be harder for you to play. You will never master it. You will never be comfortable with entire piece.
V: But I can write to you equally well designed measures and you can practice them ten times.
A: No thank you!
V: (Laughs). It would be very boring. For example, I’m practicing right now the two Bach’s chorales from Eighteen Great Preludes, or Leipzig Collection—Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV 660, and BWV 661. And at first I started really counting repetitions and being very methodical about that. But after about third day, I understood that it won’t last with me—this kind of method, because I’m not a beginner anymore and I can master things naturally, really. And now I’m just enjoying myself and still making progress. Would you say, Ausra, that this is more beneficial to my situation?
A: What, counting or not counting?
V: Not counting.
A: I think it’s more beneficial.
V: Mmm-mmm. But for some people, they do like to count. They do want to feel the need to see a progress. Maybe they don’t understand if they’re playing better or not but if they count the number of repetitions, they feel that they’re progressing. It’s maybe a different thing.
A: But still you need to work on some starts more than on the others. Because, believe me, for example, now I know that sort of repeating the Wachet auf, from Bach’s Schubler Collection…
A: The famous C flat major, which is the work that Bach himself really done from his Cantata 140.
V: This is BWV 645 in Schublers Collection.
A: Yes. And it has this common form for most of the Lutheran’s chorales. He has a bar form which has an A section repeated and then the B section which is a new one.
V: Bar, meaning like B-A-R, right, the word?
A: Yes, B-A-R, and it has, if I would have to draw a form of it, it would be like A-A and B. So you have the A section repeated.
V: And B is usually longer than A.
A: Yes, that’s right. And because I don’t have much time to practice so usually I play it, well once a day…
A: And now after practicing it for what, three weeks, I notice that, that A section goes just so well.
A: Because I play it twice. Because that’s how the music is written. But the B section is much harder now.
V: And longer.
A: And longer.
V: Mmm-mmm. So naturally if you repeat some things more times, you learn it better than other spots. Yeah. So I hope Kirk would take advantage of that, will take advantage of our courses that we have to offer because you can only learn so much from those free conversations that we provide. And if he needs more specific guidance, we have many training programs and scores with fingering and pedaling which will save him tons of time too. Thanks 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!
SOPP468: I want to become a world-class organist, and I have difficulties in playing advanced musical pieces
Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 468 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Taiwo, and Taiwo writes:
I want to become a world-class organist, and I have difficulties in playing advanced musical pieces.
V: This is his answer to my question when people just sign up for our newsletter after this mini-course, after 10 days or so, they get this message from me, asking for answer to list their goals in organ playing, and also the challenges that they need to work on to achieve this goal. So, many people are more detailed than this one, right? Taiwo writes just two phrases: to become a world-class organist is his goal probably, and the challenge is that he has trouble playing difficult musical pieces, right? But we don’t know anything else about Taiwo.
A. So I guess, if he cannot play advanced musical pieces yet, it means that he is not ready to play them yet.
V: He needs to practice maybe intermediate musical pieces, or even basic musical pieces, or even maybe beginner musical pieces. Whatever the level of advancement is, it’s good enough for starters. So start wherever you are.
A: Because, you know, without step by step approach, if you just keep practicing very difficult pieces that are too difficult for you to play, you will not reach your goal. And the results won’t be satisfying.
V: Exactly. And we can compare this with many different areas in life. Not only in organ playing. Whatever you are trying to achieve, you have to do it step by step with the easiest step first. And it might seem and sound like too simple. You might not feel like a beginner, right – it might feel like a boring task at first. Even for several months it would seem like that. You want to jump through some leaps and go to the next level too soon. But if you do that, chances are you will not stick with this practice, whatever you’re practicing with. Because it’s too difficult. I, for example, started to practice doing dips. Do you know what dips are, Ausra?
V: Physical exercise which is contrary to pull-ups. When you pull up, you pull yourself up, but on the dip, you try to lower yourself down, and then push yourself up. It’s like doing push-ups, but not on the floor, but on the bars, or in my case, on the rings. I have now two sets of rings, and one is for pull-ups in our garden, which is hanging higher. And another is for dips which is lower. I have to reach comfortably. And, it’s extremely difficult to do those dips if you’re not ready. So the first step is simply to hold your body up straight while holding on those rings. And even that might be too difficult, so maybe you have to, or I have to lower those rings so that I would comfortably reach the bottom, the floor, for example, with my feet, and I have to support myself. Not the full body weight, but the partial weight. And maybe a few weeks later, I can move the rings higher, higher, higher, this way. You see what I mean?
A: Yes, so I guess what you are telling us, it’s the same with performance practice, that you have to go step by step.
A: And you cannot jump from beginner level right to advanced level.
A: That you need to fill out all the constant daily work. And, I guess it’s becoming harder and harder nowadays when people want to have immediate gratification right away, you know, when we live in this era of technologies.
V: Ausra, would you imagine, if you just started organ playing let’s say this summer, or this year, from the beginning of the year. Would you have the motivation to persevere and to stick with it for years?
A: Well, now it’s hard to tell. This is very hypothetical question. I don’t think I could answer it, you know.
V: I think you might. Because you are a patient person. You, in general, are…
A: You think so?
A: No, I am very impatient.
V: Look, you are reading books.
A: I’m very impatient.
V: You’re reading real books.
A: Because it gives me pleasure.
V: Ah! Pleasure is good. You have to derive some kind of pleasure out of every activity.
A: But organ practice also gives me pleasure.
V: Right. If organ practice didn’t give you pleasure, it would be much more difficult to persevere, right? You are a professional. Then, you might have a goal, or a deadline, external motivation to practice. But if it would not be a pleasurable activity for you, then I wouldn’t think organ playing would make you happy.
A: Yes, but in order to get pleasure, you need to select right repertoire. Because if you will always select pieces that are too easy for you, you will get bored, and if you always play pieces that are too hard for you yet, well, you get tired, too. So basically, you need to select your organ repertoire that it wouldn’t be too easy, but it wouldn’t be too hard.
V: And you can do that by experimenting with a wide range of repertoire, right? If you don’t know your level yet, you take a piece which is maybe too difficult, and work downwards, until you find your level.
V: Excellent. We hope this was useful, guys. Please apply our tips in your practice, because they really work. We’ve been hearing this feedback from people who apply such techniques in their practice. And keep sending us your wonderful questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
SOPP454: My dream for organ playing is to be able to play classical pieces like the professionals do
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 454 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Abraham, and he writes:
“Thank you Mr Vidas Pinkevicius for this wonderful opportunity...
First and foremost, my dream for organ playing is to be able to play classical pieces like the professionals do, and also to be able to play church hymns with varied hymn harmonies or alternate harmonisations...
I'll also be glad if you could share me PDF files of hymns with alternate harmonisations, and hymns with varied harmonies...
2. The 3 things holding back from practising hard are
(a) it takes me weeks to be able to practice and memorize a classical piece which always pisses me off....I do ask rhetorically, how long does it take professionals to learn and practice a particular classical piece and memorize it?
This has always given me much concern.
(b)Unable to gain access to worship materials...
Here I mean, I don't have full access to practice on the organ, and this also makes me feel discouraged..
(c)Inability to play the organ pedals like a professional because i don't have access to the organ..
Thank you once again Mr Vidas for this wonderful opportunity...
I look forward to hearing from you”
V: Well, let’s start, Ausra, with his dream. Right? With everyone’s dream. He likes to be able to play classical pieces like the professionals do, and supply alternate harmonizations for hymns. How difficult is it to achieve this goal, do you think, Ausra?
A: Well, I think it’s quite demanding! Of course, it depends on at which point you stand right now. You know, how advanced are you, or not? Plus, how much are you willing to practice every day?
V: Yes, he didn’t write that.
A: Well, but what I noticed most from his message is that he asked how long it takes for a professional to learn a given piece of music. Well, it depends on how difficult the piece is! If it’s an easy piece, like some piece of music from, let’s say, Franck’s “L’Organiste,” then it’s almost sight-readable. Maybe you need to play it twice, and you will be ready to perform it. But if we are talking about a difficult, complex piece, like a big Prelude and Fugue by J. S. Bach, or a chorale by César Franck, or Chorale Fantasia by Max Reger, then yes, it will take a while, even for a professional.
V: That’s right. I think it also depends on the level of the professional’s ability, because there are various kinds of professionals, who can sightread well, and who are not so good, I think, even though they’re professionals. Professionals, meaning playing organ in public for a living.
V: What I think is important to understand here about Abraham’s question is, he writes that it takes him weeks to be able to practice and memorize a classical piece, and he gets frustrated. Right? Well, I think this is normal to practice and memorize for weeks. Not necessarily overnight.
A: True! I will have another question. Why does he need to memorize it? Because, not very often do organists play from memory, and you don’t need to memorize each piece that you are learning. It might give you more time to practice new pieces instead of memorizing old ones. Don’t you think so?
V: Obviously! At some point, I also had to make a decision whether I would memorize a certain number of pieces or if I would like to do something different, and I chose not to memorize, because, as you say, it takes a lot of time, and during that time, I might learn something else.
A: Because people might wonder why a concert pianist would play from the score, but nobody will wonder that about the organist.
V: It’s a tradition, I think, and pianists also, from the beginning of public performance didn’t always play from memory. The earliest instances, of course, included playing from the score. And I’ve seen people still play from the score—even pianists, today. It’s unusual, of course, but it happens from time to time.
A: Especially when they are playing modern music, I think, because usually it takes too much time to learn it, to memorize it. So, another thing about playing pedals. That’s what frustrates most beginners or not-advanced organists. But the thing is, if you will not practice with pedals every day, you will not improve. It’s as simple as that, because you need to polish your coordination.
V: So there are two choices, I think. Either you get some access to the local church and get to know the local organist, and this way make connections and gain the possibility to practice on that organ, or you save some money and invest that money, your savings, probably, into some kind of instrument with a pedal board.
A: And it depends on your situation in life. Because, if you eventually want to make some money with the organ, you’ll have to invest into accessing an instrument.
V: It’s like both options require sacrifice, I think. This option of buying your own pedal board and possibly keyboards, as well, requires an up-front investment. It’s very obvious. Right? If you don’t have money, you can’t buy an instrument. But, the first option, where you get access to the local church’s organ, is also a trade-off. I think it’s rare to expect that the church will give you access for no reason. Right? For a person from the street, basically, unknown to their congregation. You have to be either a part of the community, and being part of the community means doing something for the congregation. Volunteering, most likely.
A: So, I guess getting access to an instrument is crucial for Abraham, because if you won’t practice, you will not become a professional.
V: But, he writes that it takes weeks for him to practice. It means that he is practicing somewhere, right? Somehow… Maybe not with pedal board, but still, he has some keyboard, probably access to the keyboard. So, those are things to consider about how serious you are about your organ playing commitment in the future.
A: True, because I don’t think there is an easy way or a shortcut.
V: This is true. And the same is with PDF files of hymns with alternate harmonizations. If we had those, we would gladly give it to you, but there are options, of course, to buy from music publishers, and those collections we can recommend, of course, but another path would be to harmonize yourself!
A: I think so! I think this would be the better path.
V: Exactly. If you….
A: Maybe you could buy a couple at the beginning, to see how they look, and what they are like, and if you like them or not, and maybe if you like some of them, you could do something similar to the other hymns, and make your own alterations.
V: Right. But, I wouldn’t rely too much on alternate harmonizations as well as on hymn books, as well, because this will not teach you to harmonize. Probably you need to take a pencil and eraser, and get to the staff notation, and try to harmonize for yourself! And if you need some help, we have courses for that!
A: True! I think music theory is important.
V: Right. This will open up a lot of doors for you. A lot of musical horizons, because then, you will be able to see what kind of chords and keys are being used in your own pieces that you play. Basically, then you will be able to understand the composer’s mind, and this is a wonderful opportunity. Okay, thank you guys for these questions; we love helping you grow. We hope this was useful to you, and please keep sending us your feedback and questions. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
SOPP303: My dream for my organ playing is that I would like to apply for, and be admitted into, a doctoral program in Organ Performance
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 303 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Michael and he writes:
“Hi Vidas and Ausra,
Thank you for your recent email, to which I am now responding late (I apologize).
My dream for my organ playing is that I would like to apply for, and be admitted into, a doctoral program in Organ Performance. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in Organ Performance.
At this time, I cannot think of three hindrances to my dream, but I can think of one in particular that is proving to be, and has always proved to be, a great problem for me: I am very shy about people hearing my practicing the organ - the repetitions, making mistakes, etc., that attend the process of learning a piece of music.
I am a very introverted person (which I have found is not a very common personality trait amongst organists; at least, not amongst the organists I know personally). I believe that my fear of people hearing my practicing may (at least partially) stem from the shyness and introversion, and perhaps lack of confidence in myself: worrying that people may think I am not a skilled organist if they hear how painstaking practicing can be, and sometimes how tedious the process of learning a piece of music can be (for me, at least). Even at the university, though, where I am surrounded by other graduate music students who understand exactly what I am experiencing with practicing – even there I cannot bring myself to practice on the practice organ, which makes things very difficult for me sometimes, since the practice organ is the organ on which I perform when I receive my weekly lessons, and I really need to play it regularly to continue to be accustomed to its feel and action. What I normally do is practice at the church in the late afternoon or evenings, when I know no one will be present to hear my practicing.
All of this causes me to waste time, and causes me to worry needlessly. I am aware of these things, yet the fear of people hearing me practice has been one with which I have struggled since childhood. Despite the fact that I have been successful enough to work as a church organist, pursue graduate-level Organ Performance studies, and compose, I worry that the shyness and introversion, which, I believe, is the basis, or part the of the basis, of my fear of others hearing my mistakes when I practice – I worry that this will directly harm my efforts to receive an admissions offer in the competitive world of doctoral studies because perhaps my skills will not be as good as they could be if I practiced more regularly. I also worry that my shy personality may indirectly harm my efforts to be admitted into a doctoral program since my non-extroverted, non-showmanship personality (and the music I prefer to play and compose as a result of this personality) may make me seem as though I would be less successful as a graduate of the program than would another more gregarious, “outgoing” applicant, and maybe the conservatory would prefer investing in a person like that rather than me, since my appearance alone may work against me. Sadly, I have found that a very skilled but introverted organist is often (and maybe even usually) unfavorably compared to an organist who is not as skilled, but who has a very extroverted and confident personality.
Thank you so much for your SoundCloud podcast and emails. I have found each podcast and email extremely helpful, informative, and enjoyable, and I am grateful for your work.
V: That’s a long story Ausra but has a very interesting feedback.
A: Yes and he asks some things that I have never thought about.
V: That organists are not usually introvert, right?
A: Well actually I think that it might be wrong for you because I think many organists are extremely introverts because if you choose such an instrument you are probably an introvert because organists spend so much time alone with his or her instrument.
V: Plus the instrument is hidden from the public.
A: Yes in most churches so I think there are probably more introvert organists than extrovert, don’t you think so?
V: Let’s think about our friends. Not all of them obviously, some of them are more outgoing than others just as in life probably.
A: Well but let’s see. Let’s talk about ourselves. Have you ever done any psychological tests to determine your personality?
V: Yeah, I did.
A: So what about the introvert/extrovert thing?
V: I don’t remember exactly those four letters about me but maybe you remember.
A: Well, I remember some of it but every test that I have done showed that I am extremely introvert person. Something like eighty and more percent introvert. I never thought about that problem that somebody would hear me practicing with mistakes. Actually I don’t care about it. The more I care is that I would play well during my actual performance because then it’s real important that I would play without mistakes. So I would like to ask Michael if he feels performance anxiety during his actual performance because this is the moment when most musicians start worrying and get performance anxiety but not afraid of being heard playing with mistakes during rehearsals and another thing is that usually, especially in America, you have pretty well isolated practice rooms so if you are alone in a room nobody can hear you from outside.
V: Umm-hmm. What he’s talking about is studio performance practice when he has to practice on the organ that his weekly lessons are held on, probably. Remember in Nebraska.
A: Yes, I remember we had studio but I wouldn’t call it practice time. It was held once a week and everybody would play what we learned during the week.
V: So maybe in his conservatory is different, maybe he doesn’t have too many isolated practice rooms.
A: But how can you practice organ if somebody else is practicing something else in the same room.
V: I don’t think that people are really sitting in the same room that he is playing there.
A: And you know Michael, what I could you tell is that every person is busy with its own life and nobody really cares about what you are playing and how many mistakes you are making especially during your rehearsal time.
V: Everyone is thinking about themselves, right. Everyone is egoist in a way.
A: And everybody is thinking about their own mistakes, not yours. So I think you need not to worry about it.
V: What I hear in between the lines that he’s not writing actually is that Michael might be a perfectionist who wants to do everything at the top level and if he cannot do it at the top level then he doesn’t do it at all.
A: But if he wants to become a doctoral student it means he needs to practice every day and it doesn’t matter if he will practice at the university or church he needs to do it every day.
V: Adapt this attitude, practice no matter what, right? It’s a professional attitude.
V: You don’t have to be paid actually to be a professional. It’s the mindset that matters, right? If you skip practice because of the weather or how you feel or if you’re tired or you simply not in the mood then you are not a pro and it’s OK not to be a pro actually, I’m not blaming anybody but anyone who wants to excel in this art or any other art form has to adapt an attitude of a pro.
A: Do you think it would matter much if a person who wants to become a doctoral student is extrovert or introvert. How much will this be a deciding point during your admission?
V: I know what you mean, right? There is no discrimination actually. I don’t believe anybody would ask him you are introvert, no, no, we don’t accept introverts, just extroverts. It’s not that way, but if because of his shyness he practices too little and is not advancing well enough and when the time comes to show his skills during the entrance examinations then he is not ready as well as his peers are and that might be a problem.
A: Yes, because if you are thinking about showing yourself bad during interview, if you are too shy to talk with people or professors, well, do all the other things good because you need to play wonderful during your audition, you need to get good recommendations and you need to have really top GPA because I remember when we were applying for doctoral studies our GPA was 4.0 so in U.S. standards that’s the highest so basically we were very competitive and then as I said excellent audition and good recommendations and then how much can the introvert harm yourself. Not too much probably.
V: Not too much. You also need to write essay about your motivation.
A: Not all schools require that but some do.
V: You know, in the end if we summarize our advice I think from my perspective is if you want it badly enough you will overcome your shyness. If you don’t want it badly enough, if it’s not that important, if your shyness is more important, if how others see you is more important to you than how you actually see yourself then you will not overcome your shyness.
A: I think this problem is more related and more applicable to teenagers. I think the teenager are at that age where it’s really important what others think. People get really worried that nobody would laugh at them and sort of not to show themselves too much to be in that crowd. But I think that at mature age and since Michael is in his Masters studies so he is already adult, we don’t have to worry so much about others and about what others think about us. Don’t you think so?
V: I read a good book called “Ignore Everybody” by Hugh MacLeod, cartoonist and blogger who started his career while drawing cartoons on the back of business cards. Basically he writes down 39 key points about creativity and the most important one is “Ignore everybody.” So maybe we could conclude on that our conversation too. Ignore our advice too Michael. Thank you guys, this was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: And remember when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
SOPP277: My dream of organ playing is to completely free, sit down at the organ console and play and improvise whatever I want
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 277 of Secrets of Organ Playing podcast. This question was sent by Rob. He writes:
In this mail I’ll provide the answers to you questions: (that is the least I can do for the wonderful work that you and your wife do)
1. What is your dream for your organ playing?
My dream of organ playing is to completely free, sit down at the organ console and play and improvise whatever I want. (my inspiration comes from people like Pierre Cochereau, Jean Langlais, Marcel Dupre, Ben van Oosten, Sophie-Veronique Cauchefer-Choplin and others).
2. What are 3 most important things that are holding you back from realizing your dream?
1) (Lack of) technique i.e. the idea that I am not “advanced enough” to take on any organ piece
2) the false notion that certain pieces are “too difficult”
3) finding enough time to develop my skills
In a separate email I’d like to share some feedback with you and tell you a little bit about myself if that is OK.
So, of course it is okay--please write us more detailed feedback, right Ausra?
V: What did you notice about his dream, Ausra, first of all?
A: Well, he mentioned so many wonderful French composers and organists, and I suddenly remembered that funny test that we did a few years ago, remember?
A: We took a test just for fun, to find out which French organist we resemble.
V: On Facebook.
A: On Facebook, yes. And it was funny because both of what Rob mentions here are on this list, on his list. And Vidas was--guess who!
V: Uhhh...Pierre Cochereau, maybe?
A: That’s right. And do you remember what I was?
V: Marcel Dupre?
A: Yes, that’s right.
V: You were Marcel Dupre.
V: I don’t know why, but it was funny! Yeah, these people were great improvisers--and some of them still are. And they are like the sun behind the horizon--the goal or the dream can never be reached, right? Who can successfully say that “I’m like Pierre Cochereau” or “I’m like Marcel Dupre” today, right?
V: Right, because there was already one Pierre Cochereau and Marcel Dupre too. There is actually no point in being the second Marcel Dupre.
A: But each of us is unique.
A: And we need to be proud of it.
V: So Robert should be proud of being himself. Of course, he could take inspiration from these people…
A: That’s right.
V: In general ideas--general ideas like freedom of expression, of creativity that these masters did. But Rob’s path is different, and our path with Ausra is different, too--my path from Ausra’s is different, and Ausra’s is different, too. And we have to own it, own our differences. And actually, some of these differences can become our guiding points, right, like uniqueness, and we can differentiate ourselves in the world.
A: That’s right. And now, talking about his 3 things that he writes, that he needs to improve his technique--
A: And he wants to play whatever on the organ that he sits down easily, or improvise; and he needs to have more time. So I guess I would reverse all these problems in the other order; because I think the first thing is you need to find time to practice. Because only if you will practice on a regular basis, you can improve your technique; and only if you can improve your technique, you will be able to play whatever you want, and improvise.
V: Difficult pieces as well. Let me disagree politely with you, Ausra--
V: --when you say finding enough time. And Rob writes “finding enough time,” in these words, finding enough time. I would say making time--not finding but making. When you say I need to find more time, you say that it’s not in our control--like, you’re looking somewhere, and maybe you will find, maybe you will not find.
A: But when you are talking about making time, it seems like you know...each day and night lasts for 24 hours, and let’s make 2 more hours, yes? Per day? What do you mean by making time?
V: I mean that, let’s say...This is a serious dream. If Rob is serious about this dream, making time for that dream to gradually happen would be on the top of his--maybe not top-top-top on the very top, but top 5 things that he does in the day. Would you agree?
A: Yes, I would agree.
V: So everyone can do 5 things in a day, at least for 15min in a day. If we agree on that, then finding those 15min--it’s not an necessary word, actually. Making those 15min would be more appropriate.
A: But are you sure it would be enough to play--to practice 15min a day in order to be able to play any organ composition?
V: Let’s say you tell yourself, “I will sit down today on the organ bench for 15 minutes.” And you do: you sit down, and you can continue if you feel like playing for an hour, or for 45 minutes or whatever. You can. But the trick that our mind sometimes plays on us is: if we cannot find or make 60 minutes of quality time for organ playing, then we don’t bother to sit down at all, you know? And say our day is wasted. But if we sit down for 15 minutes, there is a chance we will continue for more.
A: So it’s like cheating yourself!
V: Obviously, yes. We have to cheat our tricky mind! Right? Because that’s what we do. We seek our dream. That’s what we try to do here. We take steps--baby steps. Anything else, Ausra?
A: Well...Well I would say, you know, if you really want to achieve something, you have to do it; and you have to find time, or to make time, as you say. Because if you are not doing it, maybe it’s not as important for you as you think it is.
V: I think it is important for him, because he wrote it to us.
A: Yes, that’s the first step, I think.
V: Mhm, to admit that it is important to you and write it down.
A: But you know, I think if you will practice, let’s say, for 60 days straight thorugh, you will develop a habit of practicing
V: Exactly, 66 days.
A: And then you will not be able to stop practicing.
V: You will feel not right--something will be missing from your creative day, if you don’t do that activity. At least for a bit, right? For 15 minutes. Would you agree, Ausra?
A: Yes, I agree with it.
V: Do you feel that you cannot function well if you don’t play every day?
A: Sure, sure.
V: What is it that you feel, if you skip practicing?
A: That something is missing.
V: And how do you react to it? Do you feel like a different person--
A: Well, I sort of start feeling guilty.
A: And this is not good, maybe--I don’t know, but that’s what I feel.
V: Very Catholic!
A: I know, it is!
V: Good. But you know, I feel that guilt, too. Haha! Yes, if I skip! So therefore, I try to do this first thing in the morning. Not necessarily organ playing, in the morning, because maybe you will be sleeping, right? If I rise earlier. But some creative activity I do first thing in the morning. Then, if something goes wrong with that day, if there is an emergency or something, or the electricity disappears, like it happened a couple of days ago--at least I know I did something creative in the morning. The day wasn’t wasted.
A: But still, you know, most of the time, I cannot practice in the morning. Only in summertime, for a couple months, in summertime I can practice in the morning. So I have to do it after making all other my works...
A: And it’s really hard. Like last school year, I allowed my only one day a week not practicing, and it was Tuesday--because I was working straight from 8 till 6.
V: Did you feel that something has to change--that either you are playing too much, or you’re working too much?
A: Definitely I’m working too much.
V: Did you have this feeling?
V: Mhm. What would you rather sacrifice? Playing or working?
V: A little bit--not necessarily you have to quit your job, I’m not communicating that, but--
A: Of course working--of course working.
V: --But instead of working 100% like you do now, maybe 90%.
A: Yes, that’s a good idea, but you are not always able to do what you want.
V: Right. And on days that you practice, Ausra, are you happier?
A: Sure, of course I’m happier.
V: Happier. Did you practice today?
A: Yes, I practiced today.
V: So you are happy now?
A: That’s right.
V: And I only played organ duets with you, so I’m not as happy as you are, so I better go now and practice. Okay.
A: Sure. Of course, when you practice...
V: Miracles happen!
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Would you like to feel such a strong urge to practice every day that if you skip just one day, you will feel strange, kind of like something important is missing in your day.
And when you do practice, how about seeing amazing results from your efforts, be it pedal playing, sight-reading, transposition, repertoire, hymn playing, improvisation, music theory or harmony?
If so, you will love our daily accountability feature in our Total Organist communication channel at Basecamp.
You will not only know exactly what your goals are for each day, week or month, but you will also see what other Total Organist students are learning.
This feature alone will quadruple your motivation and results of your practice because you will feel accountable and supported by our little community.
Bellow are some things that some of our students last weekend:
I worked on BWV 639, Ich ruf zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ. As recommended by Vidas I split the piece in 7 segments. I can now play the first segment in the right tempo and the second segment is coming together as well. I am not an advanced player and getting this far has taken me 5 days. It is hard to resist the temptation to rush ahead and try to play the entire piece!
So far (EDT, still morning), I've researched music for small organ and french horn for an upcoming church service. Not much luck. Keyboard, pedal exercises, and sight reading this afternoon.
In Dir ist Freude, BWV 615 and More Palatino by Sweelinck
Revisiting “Jesu, Meine Freude” by Krebs - that last line is still a challenge. There’s so much going on note by note across the voices, and it all has to happen with precision and clarity.
Jesu, meine Freude (Krebs) - now going smoothly. [Notice the improvement from the day before]
I'm working on Day 3 of "10 Day Pedal Playing Challenge". Some of the thirds with one foot are difficult for me. For example E-G in the left foot, toe - heel (bar 3). I can do that if I start in the lowest octave of the pedalboard, but find it much more difficult if I begin an octave higher. If I do start at the lowest octave, then the E-C with right foot, toe-heel (also in bar 3) becomes a problem. I'll keep at it.
Here's what one of our students is saying about Total Organist:
"I am taking a lot away from it. Pedal virtuoso program has helped a lot with my pedal work, as has the transposition course. I began the prelude improvisation formula, but put it by the wayside for a little while. Will try to return to it in the fall. Thank you mostly for the fingering recommendations! "
Would you like to receive the same or even better results that Jeremy and other students are getting?
If so, join 74 other Total Organist students here.
By the way, this week we're running Total Organist Summer Special with 50% discount. And of course, you will get the 1st month free too. You can cancel anytime. This offer is valid until July 25.
Check it out here
AVA248: Wanted to let you know that I received word that I passed the CAGO from the American Guild of Organists today
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 248 of Ask Vidas and Ausra podcast. This question was sent by Jeremy, and Jeremy is on our team of people who transcribe our podcast conversations. So one day, he wrote that he received word that he passed the CAGO examination from the American Guild of Organists. And I asked him what the requirements were, and he writes:
I found out about three years ago that I need some type of long term goal to work towards in my life. The easiest thing was to become certificate in something. It began with my Masonic organization, which I received a Masonic Instructor in the state of Iowa.
I have been playing the organ for church for about ten years now and two years ago, I decided to take it more seriously by seeking out a teacher. Dr. Christiansen got me involved in the local AGO chapter, and encouraged me to work towards the Service Playing Certification and continued my education to get the Colleague certification. We now have a blood pact! If I take the Associate exam next year, he will take the Fellow exam.
That being said, the certification program up to this point has been very practical for me as a church musician--standard repertoire that I have used quite a bit in the service, hymn playing, transposing passages of music, sight reading, harmonization, and improvisation. All of these things I have used at some point in the last year. The most work for me came in the improvisation and transposition portions of the exam. I was introduced to this in the past, but it always remained theoretical and not practical. I have now incorporated these into my daily practice sessions. Your courses have helped out a lot with them, but I still have miles to go!
3 pieces of repertoire: Bach In dir ist freude; Parry Chorale prelude on Omnium Christe Redemptor, and Alain Variations on a theme of Clement Janequin.
2 anthems: Britton's Jubilate Deo and Dupre's Ave Maria.
Improvising an 8ish bar piece modulating between two keys.
Sight reading a short three staff piece.
Harmonizing a folk tune.
Short prelude and hymn playing on two hymns.
Transposing a hymn into two keys. A half step up and a step down.
The improvisation and transposition were the most difficult part. I am reviewing your transposition course and your prelude in Baroque style course. Also, the complaints for the most part were about tempi. Too slow.
V: So, let’s congratulate Jeremy about this great achievement. Right Ausra?
A: True. It takes courage, you know, to do something like this.
V: We have a Colleague, his name is Paulus, and he also wants to take the AGO Service Playing Certificate test. And he needs to practice; he needs to focus his efforts during the year, learn a lot of repertoire, and I know that it’s a challenge for him, too.
A: Yes, it seems like he’s postponing it all the time.
V: Yes, I haven’t heard about his decision lately to take this test. Maybe we should ask him. But Jeremy took the AGO colleague certification exam and passed, actually. So, that’s a big achievement. And next year, maybe if he has this motivation with Dr. Christianson to take the Associate exam, then that would also be a wonderful step—a big step forward.
A: True. I think it’s wonderful that America has this program, and that you can get a certificate without entering to the University or a college.
V: Plus, he has this “blood pact,” as he writes, with Dr. Christianson. And, when you have a mentor like this who is also involved in taking an exam, maybe, at the Fellow level, they both motivate each other, right?
V: And that’s probably invaluable to have a partner in crime, so to speak.
A: I think that way it’s easier to achieve something than to do it alone, by yourself.
V: Yes, that’s why we figured out we need to have those improvisation competitions for people to advance together—to learn to improvise together, too, on Steemit. And also, Jeremy writes that improvisation and transposition were the most difficult part. Why do you think this was the case, Ausra?
A: Well, because these are the hardest requirements, to transpose and to improvise.
V: And why do you people struggle with this? Why can’t people, let’s say, transpose as easily as they can sight read?
V: It’s a stupid question, I know.
A: That’s an interesting question. I guess it depends on how hard the piece is itself. Sometimes it might be harder to sight read, and sometimes it might be harder to transpose. But transposition—I think it’s something inside us that prevents us, because we sort of look at that assignment as a hard one, but it’s not that hard. Transposition is not that hard. You just need to do it regularly. Maybe take some exercises in the C clefs, that would help you to transpose easier. And of course, the skill of transposition will help you to improvise, too.
V: Would you think that improvisation would help to transpose, too.
A: Yes, I think these two assignments are related somehow.
V: Because, when you improvise, you need to transpose the theme a lot of times.
V: And when you transpose, you don’t need to improvise, but you need to read the music and to move it to either another either clef or key or position on the staff. So, this skill, of course, would develop with improvisation, moving the melody around. And that’s why it helps with improvisation.
A: True. And you know, with transposing, you need to know that there are three ways to transpose, and each time, you need to select which way is more comfortable in a given situation.
V: For example…
A: As Jeremy wrote, that he needs to, for example, transpose a half step. Usually, that’s the easiest way to transpose, when you only need to transpose a half step, because then, you just change, in your mind, the key signatures. Let’s say you need to transpose from D major to D flat major. You just change in your mind 2 sharps with 5 flats.
V: And 2 pus 5 is 7. So the sum of those two accidentals, when you do this half step, is always 7.
A: And most of the time you can do that. Of course, you will say that, “Ok, if I have G major and I have to transpose a half step higher, how would I do it?” You can still do it. In that case you will have to imagine, for the key signature, 6 sharps and 1 double sharp, because it would be the key of G# major. And it still works. I think some of the piano composers such as Chopin used this key occasionally in their compositions.
V: Yeah, you’re right. And would would be the last way to transpose?
A: Well, the second way...
V: The second way.
A: ...would be to change the clef. I don’t know how well you are acquainted with the C clefs, but basically using those 5 C clefs, you can transpose pieces in any way.
V: And F clefs. You need F clefs, too.
A: F clefs, too.
V: So, on the first line, we have Soprano clef. On the second line, we have Mezzo Soprano clef. On the third line, we have Alto clef. What else?
A: Then Tenor clef on the fourth line, and then above, you have the Baritone clef.
V: Aha, and what kind of C are we talking about?
A: C clef always marks the C of the middle octave. So, if you have the soprano clef, it means you have the C note on the lowest line of the staff.
V: And there are three F clefs, right?
A: Yes. The one that we know so well,
V: Bass clef.
A: Bass clef.
V: Which is F on the fourth line.
V: Then F on the middle line, which is called Baritone clef. Then the one on the fifth line, it’s called Basso Profundo clef, which is the lowest.
V: But all three clefs indicate the tenor F, either on the third line, fourth line, or the fifth line.
A: And there is also the old French treble clef, which is located on the first line.
V: So this is G clef then, on the first line.
A: Yes, is the G clef. So, basically two G clefs, then three F clefs then five C clefs.
V: Oh, so there are 10 clefs, right? You only need to know 10 clefs.
A: I know.
V: And, if you know 10 clefs, you know everything.
A: And, it seems hard at the beginning, but if you work with those clefs, the transposing will become very easy at the end of it. And, of course, you can always transpose on a given interval. And you use this system when you need to transpose probably to change by a major third, or a fourth…
V: Whatever interval you want.
A: Whatever interval you want.
V: Not more than a perfect fourth or a tritone, because a perfect fifth is an inversion of the fourth.
V: Excellent! Guys, please try it out at home. It’s not dangerous; you will not hurt yourself, unless you do it too much, and then what happens Ausra?
A: I don’t know, you will get sick, probably.
V: <laughing> I see, ok. This was Vidas,
A: and Ausra.
V: And remember; when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
If I learn to play
The organ well, will the frogs
Stop running from me?
Today's question was posted by Huu. He wants to play the organ well. It's such a broad question, isn't it? We all want that. And what does "well" mean exactly?
But we did offer some steps you can take.
Listen to our full answer at #AskVidasAndAusra
Please send us your questions. We love helping you grow.
Vidas: We're starting 28th episode of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. Today's question was sent by Huu and he wants to know how to play the organ well. That's a very broad question, right Ausra?
Ausra: It is.
Vidas: It's like basically everything about the organ, right?
Ausra: Sure. We also want to play organ well, actually.
Vidas: Yeah. We can't really say that we have achieved this goal. We constantly need to practice and strive for perfection.
Ausra: It's a lifelong goal.
Vidas: Pursuit, right?
Ausra: Pursuit, yes.
Vidas: What, do you think, would be this first step in order to become better at playing the organ?
Ausra: Practice every day. And then to practice in the correct manner.
Vidas: What if you don't have a teacher? Let's say, imagine you're self taught. Can you become a better organist than yesterday?
Ausra: Sure. You can do that. Nowadays, you have all kind of new materials, but I think the main teacher is your ear, so always listen to what you are doing. Record yourself.
Vidas: And play it back.
Vidas: Right, because when you record yourself, it's so much different than what you hear, how you're playing. You might be thinking, your articulation is okay. Your rhythm is okay. Everything might be quite okay for you, but you don't know how other people hear you from the side when they listen. When you record and you become the listener of yourself when playing back, then probably that's, this recording will tell you the truth.
Vidas: Recordings never lie.
Ausra: Yes and you might not like your recording at that time but don't give up. Just keep practicing.
Vidas: Have you ever recorded yourself, Ausra?
Ausra: Sure. Of course. Many times.
Vidas: Did you like it, how it sounded?
Ausra: Most of the times, no, I did not like it.
Vidas: What did you do then? Did you break the recorder or throw away this recording or stop playing or start crying or what?
Ausra: No. I just kept practicing.
Vidas: You didn't say, "Oh, I will never play the organ again?"
Ausra: No, I did not.
Vidas: Good for you.
Ausra: What about you?
Vidas: I remember recording myself and I really thought that it sounds well. Like a performance suitable for CD, but then when I recorded myself, I think it might have been C Major Toccata, Adagio and Fugue by Bach. It was so much worse than I thought. The tempo was not equal. The articulation was sort of off. Everything was sloppy, I would say. I was preparing for a competition then, so I went back and practiced really slowly and the results were a little bit better each time.
Vidas: Ausra says the first step is practice every day.
Vidas: Try to be better than yesterday. Today try to be better than yesterday. Tomorrow try to be better than today, right?
Vidas: This is what's called deliberate practice, by the way. You are not just practicing, you are striving to become better. You have a goal, what to do with your time today.
Ausra: You've got to set your short-term goals and then long-term goals.
Vidas: That would be like step number two, probably.
Vidas: What an example of short term goal for you would be?
Ausra: For example, to learn a new piece.
Vidas: A completely new composition.
Vidas: Master it to be ready for a performance in front of public.
Ausra: Sure. Long-term goals could be like full-length recital.
Vidas: A short-term goal would be like what, a week from now or a month from now, probably?
Ausra: Sure, something like that.
Vidas: Long-term would be several months at least, right?
Ausra: Yes. Maybe half a year.
Vidas: Do you think, Ausra, that the people would need a third step, too?
Vidas: What be the step number three?
Ausra: What do you think yourself about the third step?
Vidas: Imagine just starting from the beginning. You you're practicing every day, right? In 67 days, you'll have a new habit of practicing. You’ll develop a new habit. You will not want to skip after 67 days. This is scientifically proven that you have to stick with your new skill for 66 or 67 days but then, afterwards, it will become easier and easier. Then, of course, you have goals, right?
Vidas: Like Ausra says, short-term and long-term goals and that's, obviously quite enough for starters, right?
Vidas: It will set you on the right path.
Ausra: In step number three, later on, try new instruments, new organs, because the organ can be a very good teacher and it can tell you how to play actually, how to improve your technique, how to adjust to a certain instrument. Actually, that's a very good way to learn. To try new instruments.
Vidas: Yeah. It's like driving a car. The more cars you have tried, the more advanced and more experienced you will become and the easier you will adjust to that car.
Vidas: The same is with organ playing. The more organs you have tried, different organs, right? Mechanical, pneumatical, electric, digital organs, anything you encounter, then the easier it will become in real life when you really have to play in public.
Vidas: Let's give, Ausra, people a bonus step, okay?
Vidas: I think the same applies to music. The more variety of organ repertoire can you learn and practice, the better you will be, right?
Vidas: The closer you will be to the ultimate total organist concept. The person who can play any type of organ piece well and can understand how it's constructed and even can recreate its model and improvise based on the model and basically spontaneously create its own music, is invincible. Try out all kinds of repertoires.
Ausra: Sure and listen to other people performing. This also will give you an idea of how to play.
Vidas: Right, because when you take a new piece, maybe sometimes it's good just to sight-read a new piece, but sometimes you want to be able to listen to the recording of other people's playing, right?
Vidas: Do you think that people could also sight-read every day? Is this helpful?
Ausra: Yes. This is very helpful.
Vidas: Right, like step number five.
Vidas: Without sight-reading, you sort of miss something very important. You see, you repeat, repeat, repeat the old material. Maybe learn something new each day, like four measures at a time. Maybe eight measures. Maybe one line depending on the time available, but if you sight-read every day, one piece a day, then it's like reading a new book, right? In one hundred books you will become a completely different person if you read that many.
Ausra: So guys, this was Ausra.
Vidas: And Vidas and remember ...
Ausra: When you practice ...
Vidas: ... miracles happen.
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Okay. Have fun practicing and becoming a better organist.
By Vidas Pinkevicius (get free updates of new posts here)
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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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