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!
Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 655 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Ausra, and she writes,
"This week I’m struggling with sitting down on the organ bench. At first I didn’t have time and now I don’t have motivation to practice."
V: What can I do?
A: So since it’s my question, so now you will have to answer it, and I will just listen to your suggestions.
V: Okay. I’m like a psychotherapist, and I first will ask you some questions, okay? How do you feel when you have the urge to practice, but you don’t? Do you miss it?
A: Well, I have guilty conscious.
V: So deep down, you would love to practice, but the pain of sitting down on the organ bench is bigger than the pain of actually not practicing, right?
V: You have to flip this if you want to ever overcome your situation. The pain of not practicing has to be bigger than the pain of practicing.
A: Well, but there are some problems that distract actually me from practicing. Changing to another Hauptwerk setup is one of the problems. Because I sort of started to miss our old Hauptwerk setup.
V: Now you have to go to our friend Paulus’ home. He has our old organ setup.
A: You know that that’s impossible, and to tell the truth, yes, it’s really hard. Because I never know what you will buy, and when you will buy, and when a new thing will arrive at our home, and what kind of mess I will find. For example, like last Monday I returned after a long and really hard day, because I was teaching half of a day online, and then I went to school to teach live, and stuck in a traffic jam, and I came back home and I found like a strange kid running all over our place, and you know, the organ builder working at something with you, and I just turned around and left.
V: We should clarify this situation. That day, that evening that Ausra is talking about, our friend Carpenter brought us our new table for the Hauptwerk setup. Earlier we had a table bought from IKEA, very cheap, but it served us relatively well except it wasn’t stable. It only had two legs, so imagine playing, putting your keyboards on two-legs table. And it would shake with every minute of your pressing the keys.
A: But the problem that is that now we have a new table, and we have an old table we don’t know what to do with it, so it just piles up with an other junk. Which is not a trouble for Vidas to live with, but it is really a trouble for me. And plus, we still have another table, new table, that our friend Paulus has to pick up from our home. So right now we have actually three tables. So come up guys, we might give one to you as well.
V: (laughs) If you need tables, we have them.
A: So all these things, actually you know they demotivate me from playing, and they distract me and they irritate me. Maybe I’m crazy, I don’t know.
V: No, you’re not crazy, because it’s, those, these are triggers, you know? They trigger your reaction or kind of frustration. And this frustration can prevent you from doing the thing that you love.
A: And that new, for example pedalboard, it irritates me because a couple times when I practice it, the B flat, that one in the middle which is very often used, started sort of shake, to shake. It was really frustrating. Because this was the first time that it happened to me to any pedalboard that I have tried, and I have tried many of them, and I know that I’m playing pedal quite gently and I’m never kicking them. And if this really happened, it means that something isn’t really right with it. And if other pedals will do the same in the future, then it will drive me, drives me crazy.
V: You see, you never assembled a pedalboard and you don’t know how it works. Inside of that pedalboard, there are, what’s the term - screws, yes - so the week before that I was assembling that pedalboard, and that B flat that you’re talking about probably loosened up a little bit. So I just took a screwdriver and fastened it a little bit more. So I actually fasten all of them regularly now. Because it’s a new pedalboard, a new basically device, and some sticky keys or some loose keys might appear from time to time. It’s probably normal for a new device to behave like that. Do you remember how our new organ at St. John’s was at first? I was inside of the organ every week, regulating the mechanics. But now it’s not that way, because it’s dry and already regulated, and used to the environment, and well it’s adjusted.
A: Well, but what then about the Viscount pedalboard with which we had not a single problem?
V: I don’t know what to tell you. I liked it, too. So maybe this pedalboard will also be a good pedalboard. Actually, this is a really soft pedalboard. I like the touch. It’s like a carpet. When you press the key, you don’t even feel the bottom of the key. You have to be like stepping on carpet, so you play, you have to play very gently. But now our friend Paulus can play the Viscount pedalboard and enjoy it.
A: I miss it very much.
V: So we’ll go to Paulus from time to time. We’ll visit him. (laughs) No, but I actually think that the reason it frustrates you, those changes, arriving new tools, gadgets, tables, Hauptwerk setups, all this mess, the reason it distracts you from your playing is because, let me ask you this question - What was your goal in organ playing before this mess? Did you have a goal for a specific, you know maybe like short term goal, like three month goal.
A: Yes, I would usually have some performance planned ahead so I would have to prepare for it.
V: Yeah. So one or two or three recitals lined up, yes? So the same could be also in this situation, you could just set up a goal for yourself. And actually we do have a goal for Pentecost, to play a recital of works by Bach and (XXX Composer 9:24)
A: I don’t think I will be able to get ready on time.
A: Because I’m not practicing. So you might do that recital on your own. Well you know, I’m really busy at school. I have so much teaching, and exams are approaching so fast, and all that unclarity about how much longer will we teach online, or how often we will have to go to school, and how all the schedules will work. It’s completely messed up.
V: I think what you’re experiencing with online teaching is really crazy, and…
A: ...and even to tell for example for my 8th and 9th graders if we will have exams online, or at school - I don’t know. You know, students keep asking me every day about all these questions and I don’t know what to answer.
V: I know. If I had to teach your load online and fill out all the paperwork grading additionally to teaching, you’re now spending probably twice as much time than before with your teaching online than at school. And it really affects your well-being probably, and your ability to do the things that you would love to do besides school, right? There is no energy left or as we joke, RAM, in computer like memory, internal memory. There is just so much things you can do with your energy, and when school takes up everything, there is nothing left to share with organ playing, let’s say, right?
A: Yes. I guess you are right.
V: So I don’t think my Hauptwerk setup, mess, tables, all those issues that you were facing with pedalboards is really a problem here, or defining problem. I think the problem is that you don’t have energy left from school. You work too much, you see? You are spent. And probably solution could either be to wait for better times, for vacation, summer vacation, right, when there is more free time…
A: Which will be very short, as was the last year.
V: One month?
A: Because all the exams are postponed for the seniors.
V: Right, yeah. Art requires sacrifice, and sometimes that sacrifice is just too much, right?
V: Frankly speaking, I don’t know what I could do if I had to teach that much like you do. Maybe I have a better health condition though - more energy in general - and maybe I would still have enough energy to practice, you know, my own things. Maybe. I’m not sure, but I sort of fantasize here.
A: You have never worked so much as I do.
V: I would probably not work that much, either. If I had to complete those tasks as you do, I would probably leave them in less perfect shape, you know, those things, and still would take care of my own goals, my own goals would probably need to go first. Because the school would not take care of me. I still have to take care of myself. So maybe that’s my suggestion to you. Don’t do everything at the 100% level at school. And sometimes you take some breaks, like student work piles up and you don’t grade them right away. You sort of let it rest and take a walk in the woods to just relax. This is good I think, too. Correct?
A: I don’t know. But still, that work doesn’t disappear, so I still have to come back and do it.
V: Or you could give some of them, some of it to me. I could also share, help you grade it.
A: No, I wouldn’t do that. Because you know, one time you actually really helped me to do my work, not at school of course, but when we were living with a host family in the United States.
A: And Vidas wanted, because it was really tired, to clean the desk for our host, host lady. And actually he did it, but then she would scold me and show me that mess that actually was done. So I never asked Vidas to do anything instead of me. Because he simply can’t. So if you would grade my students’ work like this, it wouldn’t work.
V: You think I wouldn’t grade them like you? Maybe it’s not the right comparison, because I understand how to grade dictations and even some harmony exercises. Not maybe at the highest level that you did with 12th graders, but I could do 10th graders, for example, easily. Not sure about 11th graders, though. (both laugh)
A: You are funny.
V: But you could teach me first, and then I could…
A: No no…
V: ...grade them.
A: It’s too hard to teach.
V: I’m a good student, you know. I would listen to you, I would respect you, and I would worship you.
A: Yes, you are a very good student. Actually, a couple of times when I was teaching online, Vidas fall asleep during my lectures, and actually he even snored, and I would have to talk really loud to my students that we wouldn’t hear his snoring in the same room!
V: I hope your students are not listening to our podcasts right now.
A: And I don’t know if I was so boring? Once I was talking about the dominant ninth chord, and I think another time it was about the second scale degree ninth chord.
V: No, it wasn’t...it wasn't anything to do with your teaching or the interesting things you taught or not, it was just because I lacked some sleep that night. I needed more sleep, so…
A: And you found a perfect time and perfect place to do it.
V: Yes, your voice was calming me and letting me into a good dream.
A: I’m glad.
V: Thank you guys. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: We hope this was useful to you. Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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V: Total Organist helps you to master any piece, perfect your technique, develop your sight-reading skills, and improvise or compose your own music and much much more…
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You got talent!
Yesterday in the morning I was thinking about the famous Biblical parable of talents and how it applies to artists. In this parable Jesus tells a story about a host who gave some talents (money) to 3 of his servants before going away. Two of the servants invested their talents and grew the resulting amount when the host came back. The third was so terrified of the host that he dug his talent in the earth and only had the same amount when his host came back. Of course the host was very happy with the first two and very angry with the third one who dug his talent.
Does it apply to artists? Do we have responsibility to develop and multiply our talents? I think so. But for some people it's so hard to accept this fact. I wish more people would share their gifts with the word.
If I can sing, I have to sing. If I can play, I have to play. If I can write or draw or teach or inspire people, I have to do all that. Because when the time comes to leave this earth, the worst thing probably would be to have regrets about all the things I wish I had done but didn't...
But what about people who THINK they don't have any talents? That's true that some of us have stronger artistic urges that others but everyone has a talent for something. It may be they haven't discovered it yet or haven't looked deeply enough.
I especially think this sense of modesty, especially for women should be disregarded. I know, society throughout history has laid many obstacles to women in their path to artistic freedom but it's up to us now to embrace our individuality and put aside social norms.
The first step to doing this is to go back to our roots, to our childhood and see what we were passionate about when we where 6 years old. The truth is, this passion hasn't gone away, it may have only been suppressed by the society.
Maybe today will be the day when we can feel like that child again?
Inspire and be inspired
Today my long-time subscriber and student John Higgins from Australia wrote to me these words:
I really hope I can come and visit you again one day! I have been listening to your Christmas concert at St John's from 2016, nearly 3 years ago! In fact I have probably listened to it like 20 or 30 times while I am doing the dishes or chores, and I think it is so brilliant, and one of the most enjoyable Christmas concerts I've ever heard! When I hear you play the St John's organ it resonates inside me, like meeting a long lost friend! I will always be be grateful for that life changing opportunity to play my recital.
I think he refers to this Christmas recital:
And I wrote to him:
It's funny you say you listened to my Christmas recital like 20 times. I can say the same about a certain improvisation by Olivier Latry Improvisations on the Liturgical Windows of the Cathedral of Saint Cecilia in Omaha, Nebraska, Partin Pasi dual temperament organ - Magnificat; Gloria; Stabat Mater; Victimae Paschali; Veni Sancte Spiritus; Pange Lingua; Dies Irae; Te Deum, available on Pipedreams:
In fact, @laputis and I witnessed this recital first hand when we were studying in Nebraska back in 2004.
John was a guest on our Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast twice:
I hope John will come back to be a guest soon!
Did you have such an experience yourself? When somebody said thanks to you and they were inspired by what you do but in fact, you can tell them exactly that you were inspired by somebody else?
SOPP523: I must get moving soon or I will not be qualified to call myself an organist any more
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 523 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Robert, and he answers my question where I asked him how is his organ practice going. He writes:
“Oh I wish you hadn't asked. Not well I haven't practiced in a very long time. Health and other things are preventing me. I must get moving soon or I will not be qualified to call myself an organist any more. I do read and soak in and enjoy and certainly appreciate receiving the emails and all the good instructions. Hopefully soon I will be applying it.
Thank you for asking.
What can you say for starters, Ausra, to Robert, who hasn’t practiced in a very long time?
A: Well, a term “very long time” is sort of relative, because for some people a week without practice might seem as a very long time, but for others, half a year might not be a long time. So, I wish people would be more specific about terms like this.
V: True. He writes about health and “other things,” which is also not specific.
A: True. So we can just imagine things in all that, because if it’s health, then you need to know if it’s a constant problem or it’s a temporary problem, and other stuff.
V: But he writes in the next sentence that he must get moving again or he will not be qualified to call himself an organist anymore, which means that he can start practicing. Right? Even though health and other things are preventing it. So it’s subjective challenges that are bothering him.
A: I think it’s not only for Robert. I think it’s true for everybody, that we try to find excuses if you don’t want to do things right away, sort of we are trying to procrastinate.
V: Do you think that Robert needs a little push?
A: Yes, a push might help.
V: Like extra encouragement and external motivation; you know what I mean.
A: Yes, to schedule recital to play in. Then you have to move.
V: Oh, no! No! That’s too harsh for people who haven’t practiced for a long time. I think our Secrets of Organ Playing Contest would be helpful. Just one video a week. It doesn’t have to be long…
A: You know, for somebody, one video a week, that’s a real challenge. It might take too much energy and time to do it.
V: Imagine just one hymn a week, then. It still counts!
A: Well, as you say.
V: I think so, yeah, if he wants it badly enough. First of all, he has to be willing to sacrifice the comfortable feeling of being where he is now. In this situation, he is comfortable. Even though he hasn’t practiced in a very long time, he is in a known area, a known environment, and when he starts practicing, he will become progressing somewhere he doesn’t know, and this might become uncomfortable. So first of all, he has to be comfortable with being uncomfortable to extend his comfort limits. Don’t you think?
A: Yes! What would be other options without your competition and steam platform?
V: That’s a tricky question, because it helped me, it helped people who participate…
A: Do you think that like a regular church service on Sundays might be something, too?
V: No! Obviously it’s a big motivation to perform in public even in a church service, yes! But what’s easier? To find a church service and start playing in public, or just to take out a cell phone and record yourself?
A: Well, but thinking about the future, and about all those perspectives, I would think finding a church to play in is more…
V: More beneficial.
A: More beneficial.
V: Because when he plays in church, he still can participate in the contest, too.
A: Sure, so you could, so to say, shoot two bunnies with one shot?
V: To shoot two bunnies with one shot. Exactly, yes.
A: Not a very nice idiom, but I think you get the idea.
V: Two birds, maybe, English speaking people, say.
A: It could be.
V: Lithuanians don’t hunt birds, only bunnies, it seems. So, this is our advice for Robert and many other people who are sort of stuck in a state without practicing for some time. It could be a week, or more, or it could be in between projects, in between recitals…
A: Well, sometimes we have to take time off.
V: How much time is needed?
A: It depends on the specific situation.
V: Plus or minus. A month or less?
A: Two weeks, I would say.
V: Two weeks?
A: Because sometimes one week is not enough to have a rest or break.
V: Yes, you need to adjust and during that week maybe you can plan things ahead.
A: Well, planning is also a work, so…
V: Okay, two weeks without any organ practice, any thinking about organ… does reading about our conversations and podcasts count?
A: I guess!
V: So people could still read them, but take two weeks off if they deserve it. Right?
A: Sure. Maybe somebody doesn’t need it… doesn’t need to take breaks.
V: Excellent. Please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen!
SOPP495: Unfortunately the organ music is almost dead here in Costa Rica, learning organ playing here is almost impossible
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 495 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Andrés, and I asked him how his organ playing is going these days, and he writes:
“Well... unfortunately the organ music is almost dead here in Costa Rica, learning organ playing here is almost impossible. Fortunately I have access to a pipe organ and I give the maintenance but I don't have a teacher who can guide me in organ playing."
V: So, Ausra, I think this feedback applies to a lot of people around the world who live in countries where there is not much interest in organ music.
A: True! And in general, some how, when I read the name Costa Rica, other things came into my mind. Maybe I’ll tell this funny story,
A: Because my school of art is desperate for all kinds of foreign relations, and one of the piano teachers has an old Russian friend in Costa Rica who teaches piano there. So she made all this big international relationship with Costa Rica, established it, and she’s so pompous and so proud about it, but it makes me sort of smile all the time, because I don’t think Costa Rica has an old classical music tradition. So, maybe if you would establish relationships with such a country such as an Austria, or Germany, or France, maybe that way you could be so proud and pompous about it.
A: Of course, for money, you can get good teachers there as well, but still, I don’t think it’s a country that dictates a fashion of classical music, and of organ music, too.
V: Plus it’s a personal relationship.
A: Yes, it is.
V: Person to person. Exactly. I was thinking about this when Andrés writes that he has a pipe organ. This is a privilege, right?
A: Yes, it is, and I think that he is lucky to be living nowadays when there is this great Internet connection with the global world. So, I don’t think it’s a problem getting information nowadays, and studying online.
V: He has access to a pipe organ. It’s not the same as owning a pipe organ, of course, but still, if he can use it, it’s very convenient.
A: Yes, it is actually!
V: And, he mentions pipe organ, not electronic organ, so, it’s a double privilege in my mind.
V: And, as you say, Internet can be a great help. Information is abundant today, and with our Website, with our courses and training programs that we offer through the Total Organist, for example, it’s really possible to advance in your organ playing using nothing else; only online material.
A: Yes, and of course, you have other advantages in Costa Rica. I think the country in itself must be very beautiful.
V: And it’s relatively well developed!
A: Yes, because our principal and some other ….. of the staff from administration went to Costa Rica, pretending also on these deep scientific relations.
V: Part of the project.
A: Yes, part of the project. So…
V: And probably, they had a good time.
A: I guess so, yes! Enjoying the nice nature of Costa Rica, the friendly people…
V: Yeah, all of us should go there if it’s so nice.
A: Yes, maybe you could give some master classes on that pipe organ.
A: that Andrés is mentioning.
V: Well guys, I think you get the point, that today, of the Internet age, sometimes we even have 5G Internet in some countries already, but in other countries, 5G will come quite soon. So, if you have a lesser quality Internet, not as fast, it’s still fast—much faster than it was in the 19th century, for example.
V: You guys can laugh, but if we think about it, we all have, even the poorest people today, have more resources than the king of France had back in the 18th century.
A: I think you are right, actually!
V: King of France! Yes. So, if you are reading this or listening to this podcast, you have more resources than the King of France back in the day.
A: Yes! I think the trouble is that sometimes people don’t know what to do with these technologies, and they just use them for nonsensical things.
V: Yes, cat videos!
A: Well… Sometimes maybe you…
V: We need them, too… we need to smile sometimes, and laugh. Alright guys, please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen
SOPP496: If you will not find your motivation then you will not find the right touch or good fingering or pedaling
Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 496, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Delphine. And she wrote an answer to my question when I asked her ‘what are some things you are struggling with’. She writes:
V: Well, in those four keywords, Ausra, where would you like to start with?
A: Motivation probably. Cause if you will not find your motivation then you will not find the right touch or good fingering or pedaling. But I think the motivation is the thing that the person, her or himself, needs to find. Because if you will not want to find it, nobody will help you.
V: That’s right. Ausra, did you have motivation to practice yesterday?
A: Well, yes! I was glad that I had free time and could go to church and practice.
V: I said yesterday because today is early in the morning and we were recording this podcast first thing in the morning so obviously we haven’t had the chance to practice. But yesterday you had.
A: Yes. Because, I think that practice is a privilege and after you realize it you won’t have a motivation problem. Because if you are not motivated enough to practice it means that you don’t understand that, really, practice is a privilege. And the privilege being able to sit down on the organ bench—it’s a big thing. That means that you are healthy enough to be able to practice at all. Think about all those people with disabilities that cannot move, sit in a wheel chair, and if you are sitting on the organ bench it means you are healthy enough to be able to use your legs and your arms and your brain too. So sometimes even thinking about it should be enough for you to motivate you to practice.
V: For me also yesterday was a boost of motivation because I knew that in, in what, in ten days we have an organ duet recital coming up. So if we wouldn’t practice every day now, people who will come to our recital will be deeply disappointed.
A: True. And this is another aspect of motivation that if you are performing and not necessarily during a recital but maybe during church service, you help people to uplift them, to inspire them, to make them to feel better. So I think it’s another aspect of being motivated to practice organ. And if you are, for example, a religious person, then there is another aspect for you to be motivated and to practice the organ. Because so much of organ repertoire is based on the religious god.
V: So you glorify the God.
A: True. And I think for religious person this must be also that motivation.
V: Then practice is like a prayer.
V: In some sorts. Prayers can be multi-faceted—have multiple angles of emotions.
A: Plus also if you are sort of physically active person then it should be for you a privilege to practice organ too. Because I don’t any other instrument that you would be moving your arms and legs at the same time. So it’s kind of physical activity too, playing organ.
V: Mmm-hmm. Of course. But please take frequent breaks. Before you get tired you have to get up and start moving again.
A: Yes. Yesterday we have practiced only half of our program. So today we are, will be working on the second half.
V: Yeah. And let’s talk now about her touch. How to learn the correct touch on the organ.
A: Well, the best teacher of the right touch is actually the clavichord. But what to do if you don’t have it, then maybe Vidas can help you.
V: Vidas! Why Vidas?
A: Because I saw in your eyes that you want to talk about.
V: Because I’m the smart one.
V: Okay. Thank you for the compliment. I think that the touch on the organ is a different one from the piano. Because piano responds on the strengths of your depression of the keys or pedals. But on the organ we try to use as little force as possible, and try to keep the fingers with the contact, in contact with the keys at all times, if possible, whenever possible. At the beginning if it’s not very difficult piece, I think it’s one hundred percent possible. So even those fingers who are not playing at the moment should not be lifted up in the air, but should be gently resting on the keys, not depressing them but resting. Okay, that’s about finger position. And touch should be light. Just think about mezzo-piano, I would say. Pianissimo might be to soft to even depress the keys—not enough force, not enough weight. But mezzo-piano would be probably enough for most of instruments.
A: I agree.
V: Unless you are playing a heavily mechanical instrument with very heavy couplers, like we have at St. Johns. But we don’t use them too often. Okay? Then there is a touch question about different repertoire, different historical periods. In general speaking, in music composed before 19th Century, we use articulate legato touch with small articulation between each and every note, but not too choppy. And for later music we use general touch legato, with some exceptions.
A: Yes. Such as the end of phrasing or repeated notes.
V: Right. So that’s what she has to know for starters about touch. What about fingering? How to learn correct fingering on the organ? Can you learn it overnight.
A: No. I think it comes with experience, but it also depends on what kind of repertoire you are playing. Because in Baroque time, one fingering was appropriate and later on it changed quite a bit.
A: But of course the easiest way to get the correct fingering would be to get some fingers course for starters.
V: I was just thinking about that, going to suggest that, we have hundreds of scores prepared for you...
V: to save you time for starting. And even better, recently, I have been uploading hundreds of videos along with those scores, so you can see my hands and sometimes even my feet, when I play, from above. And whenever I play in a slow motion those pieces, and if you have the scores in front of you, you can compare my fingering with the scores, with the hand position. And Jeremy who actually is on the team who transcribes those scores for us, he mentioned that it’s actually very interesting to see those videos and compare with his own choices. So I guess it’s a learning experience for him too—educational. You can use those as educational resources to learn how to figure out fingering and pedaling for yourself.
A: Yes, this question by Delphine, I think that fingering and pedals question is actually the same question, because...
A: It relates to the same topic.
V: Yeah. For early pedaling we use only toes.
A: And for later you add heels as well.
V: Right. There is some systems of course and we teach them in Pedal Virtuoso Master course, based on scales and arpeggios if you want to get deeper into this subject. Alright guys. But I hope motivation question is paramount here, that we started talking about in the beginning.
A: Yes, and the last think I could add about motivation would be that, think about it. It’s a privilege you are playing the king of instruments.
A: The organ is the king of instruments, so.
V: Even Mozart would be very glad that you are doing this.
A: That’s right.
V: Mozart’s father.
A: That’s right.
V: Because Mozart wrote his letter to his father about the queen of instruments because actually, in German…
A: That’s because of German, yes.
V: "Die Orgel" is feminine in German so he used queen. And actually this is a joke then later used by pianists because they say piano is a king of instruments, not organ, because organ is a queen of instruments. But don’t never believe pianists.
V: Alright. See you guys. Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
A: Miracles happen!
My pockets are too shallow
Yesterday after our organ duet practice at the church @laputis and I went to the cafe and drank some decaf latte with cranberry cheesecake. Of course it was too sweet... Then she went to the school where she parked her car and I - to the postal office to pick up my long-awaited package from my friend @contrabourdon with his 4 organ CD's for which I paid 30.69 EUR in taxes. I was upset but maybe this is the theme for another post.
Along with this packed I also received my organ CD's from Kunaki.com. This is a self-service which let's you publish professional-looking CD's and DVD's for $1.10. Today I will take them to the gift shop next to our church where the supply of our organ CD's has been ending due to the rather high demand from tourists.
I unpacked @contrabourdon's CD's in the church. He also put two extra choir CD's and two world-famous Vegemite snacks one of which we already greedily ate at night.
Then I went to St Casimir's church to get ready for the joint organ recital "Fides ex Auditu" ("Faith from Listening") which is the opening event in the series to celebrate Jesuit's mission in Lithuania. In this recital participated organists from the Jesuits churches of Vilnius and Kaunas. Along with me there was Prof. Leopoldas Digrys from St Casimir's church who played Widor's Toccata, Dalia Jatautaite from Kaunas Jesuit's church who played the A Minor Concerto by Antonio Vivaldi which Johann Sebastian Bach arranged for the organ back in the day. The last on the program was Renata Marcinkute Lesieur who played Final from the 1st Organ Sonata by Alexander Guilmant.
Between each of the performers there was some poetry reading from the output of the 16th century Jesuit poet Motiejus Kazimieras Sarbievijus.
I chose to improvise Sarbievijus Rhapsody. Sadly, the quality of the reading was such that I couldn't distinguish any words so I didn't know what it was about. Nevertheless I had to create something. My biggest challenge was at the beginning when I mixed up the manuals. The Great manual on that organ is the 2nd and I started playing on the 1st. So instead of Full Organ sound and flashy opening there came a gentle Flute 8'! But the listeners got their doze of fiery organ sounds nonetheless... After my improvisation a colleague remarked that it should have been the end of the recital.
Before writing this post I made @laputis listen to the whole thing and afterwards asked for some negative feedback. This is what she said:
"After having listened to so many of your improvisations, there were some places which surely have been heard before. You have to learn new tricks."
To which I replied:
"My pockets are too shallow."
Tomorrow I have a joint recital at St Casimir's church where 4 of the organists of different Jesuit churches from around Lithuania will play together. I will be improvising a 10 minute piece. I'm debating whether I should go and practice there before the concert to refresh my memory of this instrument or should I make it a musical discovery and adventure...
But my biggest focus this week will be on our duet recital at St John's church for which we begin rehearsals at church starting tomorrow. After Svendborg we decided to repeat this program on the occasion of Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis' birthday.
There should have been an organ demonstration for a group of kindergarten kids at my church tomorrow but they cancelled the event because the university didn't promote it and so there were no signups. Our cultural center will be promoting it for the event in October, I think.
On Wednesday our Unda Maris organ studio is starting their practices at the church after summer vacation so @laputis and I will be leading the first rehearsal. We are moving Unda Maris studio rehearsals to Wednesdays because this is the day when @laputis is free from school. And obviously without her our organ studio just wouldn't be the same... I already received several inquiries from members of Vilnius University community who want to join. Most recent was an email from a lady from China who is studying Lithuanian language here in Vilnius and wants to learn to play the organ. So, we'll see what our new students look like soon enough.
Oh and I shouldn't neglect the fact that from Saturday I'm starting to teach harmony for a group of church organists at Vilnius Cathedral. After Wednesday I will start preparing my notes for them.
What will you be working on this week?
Before we go to the podcast of today, I'd like to thank people who gave feedback about my 6 compositions which were last weekend performed by an orchestra.
Thanks for sharing these. I love the lush harmonies in these compositions. I listened to all of them. Congratulations – your organ pieces translated well to the orchestral format.
Saw and heard your FB post. Very nice piece of music, and use of the flute. Thanks for these additional details!
Hello back there, maestro.
Thank you so,much for these videos.
No. 1 = sweet/tender/interesting (splendid arrangement as well).
No. 2 = soft/discrete.
No. 3 = serene/laid back.
No. 4 = odd/uncommon/for the mind (instead of the heart).
No. 5 = ethereal.
Noe. 6 = dynamic/fleeting/playful/interesting contrasts (very nice as well).
Keep at it, maestro
If you missed this post or want to watch the videos again, here it is.
And now let's go to the podcast for today.
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 404, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Sally. And she writes an answer to the question, ‘What did you work on today?’ At the end of each day, students from the Total Organist program, they all get this question, and some of them choose to reply on BaseCamp. So Sally wrote:
Unfortunately, nothing. I work during the day as a Software Engineer, and when I got home I was cold and tired. Instead of practicing I ate and slept on the couch all evening. Let's hope I feel more motivated tonight. I need to work on my prelude for this week, and continued work on the pedal studies I started.
V: You know what I wrote to her? I wrote...
A: No, I don’t know.
V: I wrote, I will quote, “rest is good”. Three words only! Would you agree, Ausra?
V: Shorter answer, right?
A: I think this winter I also rest more than I practice.
V: Yeah. If you return home from work really exhausted and tired, I think it’s best to take a rest or take a walk or do something, not too strenuous, physically and mentally too. And plus, since working as a Software Engineer is presumably mental work a lot, in most cases, right? Then organ playing is also mental work. It’s also similar so maybe physical, doing some physical activity is better than continuing mental activity without interruption. Ausra?
A: Yes, I think you need to find balance in things because if you do only mental work, only physical work, it won’t be good.
V: What would happen if you only did mental work, without any physical activity?
A: Well, you muscles would…
A: Yes. Plus I think you might develop some serious mental problems, too.
V: Mental or physical?
A: Mental because if you’re doing to much mental work, it might damage your mental health.
V: Oh, I thought maybe if I only did mental work then my brain would expand and I would very wise.
A: Because I think that physical activity helps to clear your mind.
V: Mmmm. I see.
A: And to pump blood into your brain too, which is crucial if you do mental work.
V: What if I did only physical activity during the day, and no mental work? What would happen then?
A: Well, I think it’s healthier than otherwise.
A: But, well, if you would do only physical work I think you would forget how to count, how to read, and then you would be in trouble too.
V: Right. I would be like hunter-gatherer. Ausra and I, we are listening to audio book called ‘Sapiens’. And it’s like a commentary on the history of civilizations. And yesterday evening we listened to the chapter about the life of, in the day of Adam and Eve, basically, prehistoric times. And those people moved a lot. But they say that they didn’t work too hard, like sometimes people work today—ten or twelve hours a day, in some countries, in the factory for example. In those days, like maybe thirty thousand years ago, they would just work for several hours until they gathered mushrooms and berries and edible roots.
A: Snails and frogs...
V: Uh-huh. Maybe hunting would require more time, I guess. So, of course, it’s safe to say that I will never become a true hunter or a gatherer in the 21st Century.
A: Well, you never know.
V: Why? Why?
A: Things might change.
V: Like internet would disappear?
A: Sure, and then you will have to go to the forest to pick up berries and mushrooms.
V: And how will we record our podcast conversations then?
A: Well, then there will be no podcast conversations.
V: The end of SecretsOfOrganPlaying.
V: So, I hope this time will never come, when electricity and internet will disappear, Ausra.
A: Well you never know. We might get some strong magnetic storms and internet will be down.
A: And everything will be down. But anyway, we are just making fun. I think that it’s very important for everybody to find the right balance in their lives, because I think it’s time to work and it’s time to relax. It’s time to practice and it’s time to lay down on sofa.
V: You[’re] like citing the bible now.
A: Yes. It’s very good actually, story, from Ecclesiastes, yes?
V: Mmm-hmm. Cohélet, I think. It’s the same thing but…
A: Well, anyway I think, everybody who go to church, knows this story and knows what I’m talking about.
V: So, I hope Sally can practice whenever she feels rested and after sleeping and eating, maybe she will get more energy and feel more motivated to practice, right? And maybe tomorrow will be easier day, even at work. You never know how you will feel. Maybe she will have a better rest at night.
V: And then next day will be easier to practice organ as well. Thank you guys for listening and sending your wonderful questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice...
A: Miracles happen!
Dear friends of Secrets of Organ Playing!
Happy New Year!
Ausra and I wish you to double what was best about the old year!
Let 2019 be healthy, happy and creative to you and your loved ones!
Congratulations to Ariane, Isabella, May, Marsan, Oleksii, Martin, Sally and Amanda who recently joined the ranks of Total Organist through 50% Christmas discount. We're sure they will learn a lot and advance faster in organ playing than on their own! If any of our subscribers haven't had a chance to do it, today is the last day.
Also congratulations to Lorelei who decided to participate in our Secret of Organ Playing Contest. Yesterday I have created Steem account for her. Let me know if you want to participate too.
Let's say goodbye to the old year while listening to the immortal chorale prelude by J.S. Bach "Das alte Jahr vergangen ist, BWV 614:
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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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