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Secrets of Organ Playing - When You Practice, Miracles Happen!
Merry Christmas to all our subscribers, students and Patreon supporters!
This year the world meets Christmas in the midst of global pandemic which almost certainly means the new normal -face masks, physical distancing, maybe even online gathering to avoid the spread of the virus.
Ausra and I will visit with her parents on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In the above picture you can see chocolate and ginger muffins as well as what we call "Corona cookies" that Ausra's mom had baked today from 4 AM.
Both Ausra's brother and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19 almost 2 weeks ago one after another so this year they will celebrate Christmas in self-isolation. They had some days and nights with fever, shortness of breath and loss of taste but it looks like for the most part they are recovering well.
We're sure many of you have similar stories to share as most certainly the virus has affected us all on some level. We do hope that vaccines will be effective and will reach all of us in time.
We hope that despite all this turmoil you will find some joy and delight in the little things which are still left to us: a table for your family, a quiet walk in the park, maybe online Christmas music recital or two. And of course, playing your favourite Christmas organ music on your practice instrument (maybe even making a video for our contest). All of this helps to find inner peace despite what we see in the news.
And talking about organ playing, we would like to offer all our training programs and scores 50% Christmas discount until January 6. This of course include Total Organist and Secrets of Organ Playing Store.
We hope you will enjoy our upcoming Christmas duet recital which will be premiered this Saturday from Ausra's YouTube channel.
Dear friends of Secrets of Organ Playing community!
We hope you are having a wonderful time with your loved ones. We hope that you bring joy with you wherever you go and that there is plenty of food around the Christmas table. And when the festive noise calms down you will play some of your favorite Christmas organ music. Or even better, play it for your friends and family!
The season is an excellent time to turn a new page in your organ playing journey. That's why we are offering Total Organist Christmas 50% discount. Every score and training program in our Secrets of Organ Playing Store is 50% off too. This offer is valid until January 1st.
And remember, when you practice, miracles happen!
Vidas and Ausra
Dear friends of Secrets of Organ Playing!
Ausra and I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and hope
that everyone will have a chance to sit around the Christmas table today with your loved ones.
In Lithuania an ancient tradition is to have a dinner on Christmas Eve. We have to have 12 sorts of food (including bread) otherwise next year will not be prosperous. Lithuanians don't eat meat on Christmas Eve. Fish and herring are big part of the menu.
The dinner starts with the reading of the Nativity story from the Bible. Mostly from the Gospel of Luke but this year we went with Matthew.
Here's our Christmas Eve table. We gathered at Ausra's parent's place.
The first thing I did was to visit with Ausra's colleague from school and give her Christmas cookies and my Pinky and Spiky comic book. She gave us home-made bread. It's sourdough rye bread. Very heavy. A loaf of this bread weighs about a kilo. You can see it on the table here:
Next to the bread you can see poppy seeds. We use it to eat a sort of sweet soup with sugar, special cookies and water. Very filling and makes you very sleepy fast.
Ausra's mom made two kinds of pastries - one with mushrooms that they gathered in the woods around Vilnius in the summer.
At the beginning of the dinner everyone takes special waffles made like Communion and special Christmas ornaments and shares with the others around the table.
For fish Ausra's mom baked sea-perch. We haven't eaten it for a long time and it tasted so good. It's a good fish - not too many tiny bones. We ate it with steamed veggies.
Another kind of pastries was made with veggie filling. The same veggies that went together with sea-perch.
At this time of the year, it's good to have some oven-baked apples. They are no longer sour and very good for digestion. Here you can see also some Christmas cookies that Ausra's mom made. They would look well on the Christmas tree.
Ausra's mom baked a delicious-looking Christmas cake which we didn't try yesterday but it was reserved for Christmas day.
The other cake we bought from a store. It's a real German-style Christmas cake. It lacks home-made quality though...
As I mentioned before, Lithuanians eat meat on Christmas day. Here you can see a Fake Hare made from minced pork.
The other kind is ham baked in the oven. It's reserved for December 25.
This is all, my friends...
I know, it's lots of food but only to ensure that the next year will be prosperous.
After eating, Ausra's parents danced their favorite dances from their youth - waltz, foxtrot and polka. They made us watch and record them on the phone... Even though they are in their 70's, they still got the moves.
Now Ausra and I are going to go home and light some Christmas lights, draw some Pinky and Spiky comics and wait for Santa to come...
How do you celebrate Christmas?
This Christmas Ausra and I have recorded a special song for you. Hope you will recognize the melody:
12 Days of Organ Playing
By Vidas Pinkevicius (get free updates of new posts here)
Christmas organ music to practice and perform. Christmas choir music to practice and perform. Instrumental music to arrange and produce. Christmas church services to lead. Last minute Christmas shopping to do. Gifts to prepare. House to clean. Christmas dinner to cook. Guests to entertain...
The to do list this Christmas season can go on and on and on.
How not to feel overwhelmed by all these responsibilities? How to keep a calm mind in the face of all this? At the end of the day, you do want everybody to be happy, don't you?
The key is letting go.
Let go the desire to be perfect. Let go the desire to be in control of situation. Let go the desire to play without mistakes. Let go the desire your choir to sing beautifuly. Let go the desire the brass to sound in tune. Let go the desire that others will act according to your wishes.
Let go and breath. It's all it takes.
3 deep breaths will calm your mind.
10 deep breaths will bring to you the beauty of this moment.
This moment. Make it feel longer.
It's perfect in itself.
Blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones!
I wish you:
Joy - that we would treasure the little clusters of miracles that happen all around us every day.
Good health - that our body, mind, and spirit would enable us to take action to grow the talents we inherited.
Love - that we could forget about ourselves more often and do the things that help others instead.
I wish also all my readers that next year we could all gather together again with people we love to share a special Christmas dinner.
And to those of us who are playing at Christmas services:
Never Fear Mistakes.
As Christmas is fast approaching, I'm sure most of my readers are busy preparing for it. And I not only mean planning family celebrations or gift ideas but also increased workload for church organists with additional Advent services and choir rehearsals. In order for your Christmas celebrations to be even more creative, special, and remarkable this (or next) year, today I'd like to supplement your ideas with a few of my own.
1. Hymn Fest with classic Christmas carols where your entire congregation can sing along.
2. Your own organ recital with some of the best Christmas music.
3. Improvisational story-telling around the theme of the Nativity.
4. Organ demonstration for the kids of your congregation.
5. Prepare some large-scale choral work (not only Handel's "Messiah") with your choir, soloists, and organ.
6. Invite a guest organist to give a Christmas-themed recital.
7. Record a video musical Christmas greeting and share it with your community.
Choose any or all of the above ideas and begin to make preparations for one of the most important celebrations of the year. If you communicate about them to your congregation in the most enthusiastic manner in the form of text, pictures, audio, or videos, it will help to create a sense of a mission in your community which they will be gratefully part of. Your musical experiments and the stories about them will create a core group of evangelists who will help attract even the outsiders to your cause.
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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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