Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 159 of Ask Vidas and Ausra podcast. This question was sent in by Monte and he asks about organ Sight-reading Master Course.
Toward the end of days 5, 6 and 7 of week 1 in Organ Sight-Reading Master Course a second voice sneaks in. Is this meant to be added to the right hand playing up to that point, or does the left hand participate ?
(this course should culminate in something like the award of a Master's Degree in Counting!)
V: This course should culminate in something like the award of a Masters Degree in counting. Ausra this is the course based on the Art of the Fugue by Bach. I remember creating this course a number of years ago with the hope to help people to enhance their sight-reading skills. Especially in early sight-reading skills. So, or course this is a very simple solution, right? The course is structured that you have all the fugues or counterpoints specifically for one hand and then for another hand. I think Monte should play with just the right hand in that case, right?
A: Fantastic also.
V: Because just adding one additional note just for the left hand doesn’t make sense at this point.
A: That’s true.
V: Because later, in a few weeks when two-voice structure will come in. Maybe then he will need to use both hands.
A: Yes, that’s true but you know with the Art of the Fugue I have thoughts. Quite a few performances you know actually on organ and harpsichord as well. So in terms of which hand needs to play what it is questionable. It’s a good question for discussion. Because you would do it one way if you are playing it on the organ and another way if you are playing on the harpsichord. What do you think about it?
V: You are right because with the organ you could add the pedal line.
A: Sure and I think those who perform that fugue on the organ definitely play it with the pedal.
V: But not every fugue is done with the pedal. It’s not possible to play those canons for two voices with the pedal.
A: Yes, because I don’t think you would have enough space in the pedal part.
V: It goes too high. In general, Ausra, is it a good exercise to try to sight-read one line at a time of such polyphonic pieces from the Art of the Fugue?
A: Yes, I think it is a good way.
V: I made this course a little bit easier than I practiced myself because originally I practiced Art of Fugue with the intent of mastering clef reading, not only sight-reading because originally it is written in four different clefs. Soprano clef for the soprano voice, alto clef for the alto voice, tenor clef for the tenor voice and bass clef for the bass voice. The bass clef is the most familiar for everybody, right? And there is no treble clef here right?
V: So, instead of playing with the treble clef, originally it was written for the soprano clef. We have remind how does it read, right?
A: Yes, soprano clef is on the first bottom line of the staff.
V: Which note?
A: In the treble clef it would be E on that line. But the soprano clef always marks the C note.
V: On the first line.
A: Yes, on the bottom line.
V: And the second voice, alto clef has also C clef but on the middle line, on the third line.
V: What about the tenor line?
A: Tenor line is on the fourth line.
V: C note is on the fourth.
A: Yes. Because in general all these clefs they always mark the note C of the first octave.
V: Do you think people would have practiced these scores more eagerly using original C clefs or with simple today’s treble and bass clefs?
A: Well you know, knowing how my students at school don’t like to sing solfege exercises for the C clef and those have only two voices I believe only a few would love to practice using those clefs.
V: Too few.
A: Yes, too few.
V: Too few people are like me.
A: Well you know it is hard for your brain. Not everybody could comprehend it.
V: Not too many people are as crazy as myself.
A: That’s true.
V: So, with our blog of Secrets of Organ training and these podcasts do we try to help people become as crazy as we are or not?
A: I don’t know what you mean by it, but…
V: A little bit more similar to us or not?
A: Probably yes. But you know it’s good sometimes to sight-read from the clefs, not too much probably but because we still have editions and use them such as eastern German edition of Peeters which has published lots of work by J. S. Bach and Buxtehude and other German masters and it has some spots that you have treble clef and bass clef but sometimes the C clefs appear. Not for a long time, maybe for like 2 lines or 4 lines and it means that if you want to play from that edition you have to read C clef because it wouldn’t just make sense for you and the note to write down those spots, to transpose them to like treble and bass clef.
V: It’s like driving the car with stick shift and automatic shift. Automatic shift is easier, you have just the gas pedal and the brake pedal. But stick shift you have to think about the clutch and about manipulating with your right hand the gear. You see, not everyone prefers to do that extra work today, right?
A: Yes, especially in the US.
V: But guess what kind of cars do racers drive in marathon drive, you know car races. Of course, not automatic but manual shift.
A: Yes, you can do more in that car especially in extreme situations.
V: So guys, if you are satisfied with your current level of sight-reading ability then reading treble clef and bass clef only is surely enough. Right, Ausra?
V: But if you want to go beyond that and advance to the unknown world of something that was done in the past or some things that people with lots of experience do today, it doesn’t hurt trying practicing other clefs. Maybe take one, just one clef and do sight-reading for one month in that one clef.
A: Yes, that’s true. Trying some music written for alto for example because alto instrument plays from the alto clef.
V: Or you could transpose because reading clefs is an exercise in transposition.
A: That’s true, yes.
V: If you take any kind of melody which is written in the treble clef and pretend it is in the bass clef, right? You could play it with your left hand and play two octaves and a sixth below so basically it transposes up a third interval, right?
V: So you know two clefs very well now. Treble clef and the bass clef. If you pretend it’s not a treble clef but let’s say soprano clef you can do the same with your right hand. You just simply transpose to another key. So that’s what I did also. And you could do that too. That’s why it is beneficial. It also helps for improvisation because then in your mind you transpose the themes in various keys simply by changing the clef.
A: Yes, and some actually solfege systems use that movable do, so called. And I think it’s right from the beginning from early age learn how to transpose, how to change keys very quickly.
V: Yes, so, our Organ Sight-Reading Master Course is not the only way to improve your sight-reading, of course. You could just as well take any collection of music that you like and simply open it and practice one piece a day and in nine months you will improve a lot, right Ausra?
V: But what I did which you will not find anywhere else is that I transposed those fugues for the Art of the Fugue to various keys. Not only from the original key of D Minor but to various keys with ascending numbers of accidentals so you could sight-read in all the keys, in minor keys, not in major keys. Then as a supplement of this course, as bonus material, I think we have seven additional weeks of legato, romantic organ settings based on the chorale preludes by Max Reger. So it’s also beneficial to expand your sight-reading into romantic legato style.
Thank you guys, this is Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: And remember when you practice…
A: Miracles happen.
Would you like to learn J.S. Bach's Dies sind die Heilige Zehn Gebot, BWV 678 from the Clavierubung III? If so, my new PDF score with complete early fingering and pedaling will save you many hours and set you on the path of success to achieve the ideal articulate legato touch naturally, almost without thinking.
If you liked Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit, BWV 669, Christe, aller Welt Trost, BWV 670 or Allein Gott, BWV 676, I'm sure you'll enjoy this piece too.
Thanks to Jeremy for his meticulous transcription from my slow motion video!
Check it out here
50% discount is valid until February 5. Intermediate level. 4 pages. This score is free for Total Organist students.
V: Let's start episode 144 of #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast. Listen to the audio version here. How are you Ausra?
A: I’m fine thank you.
V: This question was sent by Barbara, and she writes:
“Hi Vidas, I appreciate these copies of sheet music with fingering. I would like to see the fingering for traditional hymns.“
This question is timely, right? We have just finished creating our 10 Day Hymn Playing Challenge.
V: Can you tell us a little more about this challenge?
A: We selected 10 hymns, 5 older ones, and 5 more contemporary ones. So basically those 5 traditional, or older, hymns require that you use your earlier technique, so no heel on the double-bars, no finger substitutions in your hands, and then those modern ones you have to do otherwise.
V: Play with heel?
A: Yes, and no playing legato in the manual part. So if you will be able to master all of these 10 hymns, I think this will be a key for you to your hymn playing in general.
V: Yes. Wonderful. I am just looking at the feedback we have for the about these challenges, and it looks as though people are finding this useful, this resource, right?
V: And to start to use them, and actually one person even asked us to make a copy of those hymns, but to produce the fingering for manuals only, of the exact 10 hymns. So this means they are using this entire resource, and it is helpful.
A: I know. And maybe some are not using pedals so they need to know only to play the manual part.
V: Yes. Since we do not have everything yet finished, right, in case you don’t have a pedalboard on your organ, what could you do if you have such a score? Could you write down left hand fingering? Could I adjust just a little bit?
A: Sure. That is just your baseline.
V: Yes. It would be a little more difficult, of course, but you could use a different color, maybe, if our fingering is not entered in black. So you could use green or red, or blue....
V: Right, or something of a bright color to see. And that person actually said that it is hard to adjust and notate on that particular score so he wanted to do the work, you know, that we would do the work for him, basically to take the same hymn and reproduce it for manuals only. But the problem is that we use the hymnal for this and the fingering is already notated on the original sheet of the hymns. So basically the pedaling and pedal indications are already there, we cannot erase them. But it is not a problem I think, right Ausra?
A: Yes. You could use Sibelius software.
V: And if you don’t have Sibelius, you can simply use a different pencil or different color notation. Or even enlarge your copy – make it very large – then the spaces between the notes will be larger and you will be able to see your fingers better. Your adjusted new fingerings, right?
A: Yes, that’s right.
V: But in the future, of course, we could create something, a format for manuals only.
With other sets of hymns.
A: That’s true, although if your accompany hymns at church for congregation I think it’s good to have a pedal part. It gives such a support for congregational singing. And playing hymns without pedal doesn’t suit me.
V: That’s probably true in most cases. But what about an instance when you don’t have a pedalboard – maybe you have a piano?
A: Yes. then yes.
V: Then you need to work on that.
A: But the thing is that when you are playing on the piano you don’t have the problems you would have while playing organ.
V: Such as?
A: Because for example, you can’t use the early technique when you are playing on the piano because it does not apply to piano as to an instrument. To use an early technique to do all that articulation. Or for example when you are playing modern hymns, then you know you have to use sostenuto pedal which will help you play legato. So basically, all that fingering and pedaling stuff is more important when you are playing organ. Because on the piano there more ways to cheat.
V: The organ, and not even the keyboard, right?
A: Yes, yes.
V: So could we say, Ausra, safely and honestly, that it was the reason that I chose to do this for pedals also.
V: Because it sounds better on the organ with pedals, these hymns.
A: Definitely, yes.
V: And probably people should not stop there, because to play soprano and alto with the right hand, and tenor with the left hand and bass with the pedals is just the basic setting, right? You could do all kinds of other textures if you are more adventure oriented and like to take a little bit of risk, right?
V: Do you know what I mean, Ausra?
A: Not exactly. Perhaps you could explain what you mean.
V: Well, there are perhaps ten or more ways of playing hymns: in two parts, in three parts, right? And so you could omit the two middle parts and play the soprano and bass parts only with your hands. That is easy. But you could also invert the two parts, and make the melody in the bass, and supply the extra top voice with your right hand. That is a creative way of playing hands, right Ausra?
A: Yes, that is right.
V: And you could also play trios and place the melody in any of the voices, soprano, tenor or the bass.
A: That is a very sophisticated way of playing hymns.
V: Its fun, isn’t it?
A: It IS fun but it is not for beginners or intermediates.
V: Exactly. So perhaps that could be the next level.
V: And when you have mastered a trio texture you could add a quartet, right, and you play your melody in any voice, soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Even with the pedals you could use not 8' level pitches in the pedal, but perhaps 4' level, or even 2' stops like Cornet in your pedal to play the soprano or alto.
A: That’s right. There are all kinds of possibilities.
V: And it was historically done in 17th century, and in 18th century people have been playing that and organ composers have created such hymn preludes like that.
A: That’s true, but again, though I would like to return to that pedaling part, if you would think about North Germany which is home for Protestantism, or Martin Luther. And if you would look at the organ they had such huge pedal towers… And why? That was because we needed it for accompanying congregational singing. They needed a loud pedal part.
V: And of course you played all kinds of choral fantasias and improvisations.
A: Yes that is true, and the hymn tunes.
V: Yes. So all those choral melodies are beautiful tools to demonstrate he colors of the instrument. And sometimes, if you do not have sophisticated pedal boards, and sophisticated pedal stops, you could have couplers from the manuals.
A: Yes. That is why couplers were added to the organ.
V: OK guys. Please use our 10 Day Hymn Playing Challenge. This really helps people who are starting to practice it – and let us know how it goes. It is interesting.
A: Yes it is very interesting to know about your progress.
V: Exactly. And send us more of your questions, right Ausra?
V: We love helping you grow. And remember: when you practice...
A: Miracles happen!
New training for basic level organists who need help with hymn playing: 10 Day Hymn Playing Challenge.
Would you like to spend the next 10 days learning the skill of hymn playing? If so, this challenge is for you.
You will receive a PDF score with 10 hymns for the liturgical period of Lent with complete fingering and pedaling written in. 5 hymns will be in the early articulate legato style (composed until 1800's) and 5 - in the Romantic legato style (composed after 1800's).
Master 1 hymn per day for the next 10 days. Feel free to spend more days with each hymn if you want, you don't have to rush it.
Soprano and alto parts will have to be played with the right hand, tenor part - with the left hand and bass - with the pedals. NOTE: just like in any hymnal, the bass part is not written on the separate stave but notated together with the tenor.
Basic level. PDF score - 10 pages. 50% discount is valid until January 24. This score is free for Total Organist students.
Click here: 10 Day Hymn Playing Challenge
And now let's go to the podcast for today:
Vidas: Let’s start Episode 139 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. Listen to the audio version here. This question was sent by Fr. Michael he writes:
I am writing today to inquire if you by any chance know of any resource that may contain church hymns (a hymnal, etc.) that contains fingering and pedaling written in? No problems at all if there isn't, I am managing fine, but just thought I would pick your brain on this and see if such a resource exists.”
Excellent idea, Ausra, right?
Vidas: We haven’t created any course which would include fingering and pedaling for hymns.
Ausra: Yes, and I don’t know if such a hymnal exists. You could find, maybe, some separate hymns in some of the organ practice books, but it’s not a common thing to do...
Vidas: Especially if you think about early types of hymns, and Romantic types of hymns…
Vidas: You’d need two different kinds of fingering and pedaling for that. Could we, let’s say, create a 10-day challenge for people like Michael?
Ausra: Yes, I think that would be a great idea.
Vidas: And this 10-day hymn playing challenge would include 10 hymns--let’s say 5 early type of hymns, and 5 more Romantic type of hymns, like legato.
Ausra: Yes, that would be nice, yes.
Vidas: And people could use our fingering and pedaling, and this pedaling and fingering would dictate the desired articulation, automatically.
Vidas: Would that be helpful, do you think?
Ausra: I think so, yes. I think while playing these 10 hymns--5 earlier and 5 later--people could get a notion of how to finger them and to pedal them.
Vidas: Because the underlying principle behind hymn playing--the foundational basis--is that you take 2 upper voices and play them with the RH (soprano and alto, that is); and then the tenor would be played by the LH.
Vidas: Right? And the pedals would be played by the feet.
Ausra: Yes; and if the organ doesn’t have pedal, then you would play 2 voices with your LH.
Vidas: Mhm. But let’s hope that people can use 10-day hymn playing challenge as a preparation for real organ literature; and then you would need pedals, I think.
Ausra: Yes, sure.
Vidas: Because pedal parts will not be very difficult, and beginner organists could easily master them. Not necessarily in 10 days, but the principle is the same.
Ausra: Yes. But sometimes you have to do hymns on the piano, too, for church services.
Vidas: Oh, and then you would play without pedals.
Ausra: Yes, yes. I remember when we worked at Grace Lutheran Church in Lincoln. We would sometimes play on the piano, too--not very often, but yes.
Vidas: How different is fingering, for that occasion?
Ausra: Well, usually you try to pick up later hymns, to play more Romantic hymns more legato. Great hymns to play with piano!
Vidas: Do you use sostenuto pedal?
Ausra: Yes, yes, you can do that then. Because it’s appropriate on piano, to have and to use sostenuto pedal.
Vidas: Sure. Do we need an extra course for that? For piano playing? Or not...Maybe for starters, let’s focus on the pedals.
Ausra: Sure, yes, I think that’s a good idea. Because if you can play with pedal, then definitely you will be able to play without the pedals.
Vidas: Well, for people who are playing organ without the pedals, or just keyboard, they would only need to adjust the LH.
Vidas: And play the 2 lower parts with their LH.
Ausra: That’s right.
Vidas: But the principle would be the same as for the RH. So we would probably use more or less interval fingering. What do I mean by that? If it’s an early type of hymn, intervals of equal length would be played by the same fingers. Right?
Ausra: Yes. And in later hymns, you would probably have to use finger substitution.
Vidas: To play it legato?
Vidas: So for example, how would you play intervals of the third?
Ausra: In early hymns?
Vidas: In early hymns.
Ausra: Probably just 1-3.
Ausra: Or 2-4.
Vidas: Sometimes in alternation.
Vidas: Because it helps to create strong and weak beats, right?
Ausra: So that’s a part of articulation.
Vidas: Mhm. Excellent. Interval of the fourth: how would you play it?
Ausra: Probably 1-4 and 1-5.
Vidas: Mhm. Interval of the fifth?
Ausra: Hahahaha! Do you think you would have to play intervals of fifths?
Vidas: Parallel intervals? No! But just one, once in a while.
Ausra: Oh, well, if it would be one interval of the fifth, then 1 and 5 would be appropriate. Or sometimes maybe 2 and 5 too.
Vidas: Especially if you are playing an old 17th-century organ.
Ausra: Sure. Then it’s not so nice and not so comfortable to use the thumb.
Vidas: And the keys are much narrower.
Vidas: Interval of the sixth? Sweet interval.
Ausra: Well, 1 and 5.
Vidas: I almost said 1 and 6!
Ausra: Yes, 1 and 6...Yes, if you have 6 fingers on one of your hands, you could do that!
Vidas: Like, Hannibal Lecter would play with 6 fingers easily! So, 1-5 for sixth, for early hymns, that is; and if you need to use finger substitution to create legato for later hymns, you would use what? 1-4, substitute to 2-5--
Vidas: And then again, 1-4, 2-5, like this. And wider intervals, like a seventh or octave, obviously…?
Ausra: 1 and 5, of course.
Vidas: Good. So that’s it for both hands, the same thing. For the pedaling, do you have special rules for that?
Ausra: Well, if you play early hymns, then you use only your toes; but if you play later hymns, then you have to use your heels too, because you need to play legato.
Vidas: And what’s the rule for playing pedals with the same foot? R-R or L-L? In which occasion would you use the same foot? Because most of the time you use alternate pedals…
Ausra: Well, when it’s very far away, when you are either very far on the left side or you are very far on the right side--
Ausra: Then you would just use one leg.
Vidas: And there is the second instance, when the melody changes direction.
Vidas: It goes up, up, up, up, up, then left right left right left right...
Ausra: And then goes back...
Vidas: Goes downwards. So the last note would be R-R.
Ausra: That’s right, yes.
Vidas: So guys, that is how we will actually be creating this 10-day challenge. If you want to pedal or finger your own hymns, go ahead and join us in your favorite hymns and hymnals; but we’ll be happy to provide for you 10 fully fingered and pedaled hymns for you to practice. Ausra, how many days do you think that would take for people to master?
Ausra: It depends on the level. It would be nice to master one hymn a day; but maybe you would need more time to do it.
Vidas: Some people could; therefore we would name this course as a 10-day challenge.
Vidas: But it easily can be extended into 10 weeks, right?
Vidas: Because there are people who can only manage just one hymn per week.
Vidas: And remember, if you practice just fifteen minutes a day, you will see the progress over time, over these 10 days or more. Right? It might not seem like a lot, but like people have noticed before, it really adds up.
Ausra: Sure. Yeah, so...I hope you’re looking forward to our hymn playing course!
Vidas: So, we’re going to start creating fingering and pedaling after we’re finished with this recording. But by the time you will be listening to this podcast conversation, and maybe reading the transcribed version, maybe this course will already be available!
Ausra: I hope so!
Vidas: So check it out and see if you like it.
Click here: 10 Day Hymn Playing Challenge
And let us know, if you practice from this resource, how it’s helpful or not. We love helping you grow. This was Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: And remember, when you practice…
Ausra: Miracles happen.
Wow! It seems like just a couple of months have just passed since the beginnings of Secrets of Organ Playing.
6 years ago I posted a number of articles on EzineArticles and started teaching people from all over the world about all things organ playing helping them to achieve their dreams.
Soon afterwards, I began posting my articles on this blog which was initially created as a platform for Ausra's and my organ duet activities.
Later Ausra joined this blog too and her expertise and good will helped tremendously.
Long story short, now we have podcasts, organ training materials too many too count, Total Organist membership program and recently have started our channel on Musicoin, a platform built on the revolutionary blockchain technology dedicated to treating musicians fairly.
If it wasn't for our readers and students we wouldn't be here today still posting, still teaching and still helping you. Passion alone can only lead you so far. Thank you so much for your support.
People often ask me how can I do so many things and where does my energy come from? Well, I guess the answer is rather simple.
I don't go to meetings, I don't surf social media and I tend to act first and apologize later. In short - over time I built a habit of doing things which other organists are afraid of doing. This alone saves me at least 4 hours a day and gives me endless energy and motivation.
Time flies by so quickly and my Death Clock says I have 12909 days left so I have to make them count. I hope you'll do the same.
Thanks for being part of this journey! Please send us your questions - we love helping you grow.
And remember, when you practice, miracles happen.
Would you like to learn "Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit", BWV 669 by Johann Sebastian Bach from the 3rd part of Clavierübung?
If so, my practice score with complete fingering and pedaling (2 pages) will help you save many hours of your precious time and achieve articulate legato touch.
50 % discount is valid until December 13.
PDF score (2 pages, intermediate level).
This score is free for Total Organist students.
Enjoy your practice and let me know your experience with this piece.
PS If you like BWV 669, you will enjoy BWV 676 too.
Would you like to test the limits of your hand and feet independence?
If so, try to learn "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr", BWV 676 by Johann Sebastian Bach from the 3rd part of Clavierübung. Here each part has a completely independent movement making it a perfect trio which is notoriously difficult to master.
It's no secret that a trio texture like in a trio sonata sounds so simple but is exceedingly difficult to perform elegantly.
I'm practicing it for our upcoming Bach's birthday recital in March. Wish me luck. I'm working on it in a very slow tempo to diminish my inherent clumsiness.
If you would like to join me, check out our practice score with complete fingering and pedaling written in. It will save you many hours of your time. I have written the left hand and pedal parts and Ausra - the right hand fingering.
By the way, she has played the entire 3rd part of Clavierübung back in Lincoln, NE for one of her DMA recitals on the oldest-sounding organ in the US - the famous Bedient Op. 8.
50 % discount is valid until December 13.
This score is free for Total Organist students. PDF score (6 pages). Advanced Level.
Enjoy your practice and let us know your experience with this piece.
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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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