By Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene (get free updates of new posts here)
"They might fire me", were the words swirling in my head.
I came back from school the other day all stressed out - one of my students was failing and the administration wanted to visit her in class to see how she's doing.
I couldn't focus well that day. What would happen if the administration decided to think it was my fault?
But no matter how I felt I still needed to practice organ that evening. And although my head was full of stress from school, I chose to wash the dishes first.
Warm water felt good. It relaxed me somehow. It helped. Not right away but gradually.
Then I was ready to start playing the organ.
I thought that Scheidemann's Canzona in G transferred me to another world.
(Not only me but also Vidas who was nearby).
So sitting on the organ bench and actually doing the work that matters eliminates stress.
Here are 10 ways that help me get back to the organ bench:
1. Doing the dishes
9. Surprising someone you love
No, this student isn't changing for the better (at least for now). But at least I can give up control of the results and immerse myself into the process of practice which actually has a calming effect.
Where does help come from?
Vincent writes that his dream is to become a brilliant organist, especially in playing classical and sacred music. The three things that are holding him back from realizing his dream are the lack of his personal keyboard to practice, the lack of a specialized organist to guide him through his practice and the lack of recommended learning material like books and CD's.
Vincent chose to follow his dream. I guess it wasn't easy for him to commit, for the challenges he faces are serious indeed – if you don’t have an organ or at least a keyboard available to you, it’s much more difficult to practice regularly and efficiently (although paper keyboards and pedalboard are always a temporary solution that’s available for everyone). But he is not looking back. To become a brilliant organist will require much effort and sacrifice but he knows his life without organ playing would be less complete.
I know, there are other organists among my readers who want to become brilliant organists, just like Vincent. If you are in this situation, to reach this dream will require some help – sometimes from within yourself, sometimes from external sources.
I personally like to think that the first stage of learning a new piece can be seen as a help. You take a score and analyze your piece. You sort of consult with the master who created it long ago. You take this piece apart and put it back together in your mind. You analyze form, all themes, tonal plan, cadences, chords, sequences, and modulations. You also analyze all the polyphonic techniques you encounter in your composition. After this analysis you are equipped to begin to learn it and put it back together.
Sometimes help also comes from the people around you. These days it doesn’t necessarily mean from a mentor or a friend who lives nearby. An online community consisting from people around the world (like this one) will help you feel that we’re all in this together and you might even get the tools necessary to learn your craft later on.
If you don’t know how to analyze the piece, if you don’t know anything about harmony, about chords or music theory, you can learn.
People who take action, report to me that just sight-reading these (or other) materials begins to make a difference in their skills. For example, John writes that he was surprised to find that he was able to sight-read the bass part in the pedals with the tenor in the left hand of the unfamiliar hymn, the combination that is beyond doubt one of the most difficult of all two-part combinations and was too advanced for him earlier. He also started to distinguish various chords (tonic, dominant, seventh-chords and even nine-chords) in music that he plays.
Wherever you start, know you are not alone in your quest.
„One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved, one must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one's greatest efforts.“ Albert Einstein
[Thanks to Bill for finding this quote]
Part I: Andante - Allegro non troppo ma passionato (p. 3) from Organ Sonata, Op.57 by Johan Adam Krygell (1835-1915) who was a Danish organist and composer of the Romantic period.
May God Bestow on Us His Grace
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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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