How I Overcome Frustration When Playing the Organ - 6 Tips for Your Organ Practice
Many organists tell me that mistakes can be very difficult to fix in organ playing. If they fail to correct the mistake or can't play the piece fluently and without interruptions, they feel like they have to give up practicing organ and do something else. In this article, I will share 6 tips with you of how I overcome frustration when playing the organ.
When playing the organ, I make mistakes, too and I get frustrated, of course. But for me it is inspiring to know that many other famous organists have taken the same path and had similar problems I have.
In fact, the great Bach himself was known to have superb sight-reading skills. He had a habit of playing some unfamiliar pieces on the harpsichord while visiting with his friends. Usually he could sight-read them very well on the first try.
But one time, as he was playing one particular work on the harpsichord, he got stuck at one spot. He stopped, went back a few lines, played it again, and got stuck at the same spot for the second time. Surprised, he tried again the same thing but made a mistake in the same place for the third time. Then he said, "No, it is not possible to play everything."
Isn't this an encouraging thought? To think that the genius who was said to be able to play anything written on the music score by his contemporaries, himself admitted the limitations of human nature.
So what does it mean for you? You see, it's OK to make mistakes. When you try to correct them and it doesn't help, it doesn't necessarily mean you should give up your organ playing because of this.
Have you taken note of how many times do you usually try to correct the mistake before you give up? Thomas Edison, the inventor of light bulb, was known to have 10000 failed attempts in this project but he didn't give up. And of course, organ playing is a lot easier than inventing a light bulb. You will not need so many repetitions.
You just have to approach this problem from a different angle and perspective. This will help you to stay positive. Here are some things that are worth remembering:
1. Try to remember your goal. It could be both short-term and long-term goal in organ playing.
2. Create a daily practice schedule. This schedule or plan will help you to know the steps necessary to achieve your goal.
3. When you practice, always take a slow tempo. Practicing very slowly helps to avoid mistakes.
4. Choose pieces of your technical level. Many people take compositions that are too difficult for them at the moment. Save them for the future.
5. Learn the piece in separate voices and voice combinations. This is especially helpful for playing polyphonic music, such as fugues.
6. Master short fragments first and later combine them together. This technique helps to correct mistakes very quickly.
Try these 6 tips today in your organ practice and you will be surprised how much easier is to stay positive and not to give up your organ playing.
By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments - the pipe
organ? If so, download my FREE video guide: "How to Master Any Organ
Composition" in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.
Every organist wants to see great results from practicing the organ playing. However, if the results are not as good or if they cannot be achieved fast enough, some people might feel disappointed and frustrated. Practicing with this feeling is not going to help them to advance in organ playing. What they need is to overcome the frustration and focus on what is important. In this article, I will give you 3 tips which might help you to avoid frustration when playing the organ.
1. Check if the piece is not too difficult. Very often organists with modest technical abilities have quite ambitious goals and start playing compositions that technically are too challenging or they simply are too long. For example, such a person might like Bach's or Widor's Toccata or Prelude and Fugue on BACH by Liszt or any other difficult piece.
However, no matter how beautiful these works are, beginners have to start with more modest and shorter pieces first. For instance, if you like Bach's D minor Toccata, try several shorter preludes and fugues from the collection of 8 Little Preludes and Fugues, BWV 553-560.
Or if you eventually plan to master Widor's Toccata, why not to start with an easier piece from the French symphonic school, such as Berceuse by Vierne, pieces from L'Organiste by Franck or works from Practical Organist by Guilmant.
Instead of Prelude and Fugue on BACH by Liszt, play easier movements from Mendelssohn's sonatas, or choral preludes by Brahms. Although they are short and not as difficult, the artistic level of these works is very high.
You are probably wondering, how to know if the piece is too difficult? Try sight-reading it in a very slow tempo, and if you make mistakes in every measure, I suggest taking an easier piece first.
2. Practice in voice combinations to avoid mistakes. If the piece you are working on is of your technical level then there is one more thing you can do to make things easier. In order to avoid making mistakes, which will save you a lot of frustration, try practicing your organ piece in separate voices first.
After that work on two-voice combinations, do not rush and achieve the level when you can play them at least three times in a row correctly. Then play three voices the same way and finally, the entire four-part texture.
3. Practice in fragments to correct mistakes. If after playing according to the above point you are still making some mistakes, it is best not to play your piece all the way through. Instead, work on one small episode or fragment at a time. It could be as short as 1-2 measures or longer (1 line).
If you make a mistake, just go back to the beginning of your fragment, take a slower tempo, correct your mistake and play it at least three times in a row without any errors. Note that your fingering, pedaling, notes, rhythms and articulation must be precise.
To summarize: choose the piece which is not too complicated for you at the moment, work in voice combinations and in smaller fragments for best results. Practicing this way will lead you to success in organ playing and will help you to avoid much frustration.
You can also download my FREE video guide: "How to Master Any Organ Composition" in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.
Have you experienced frustration when practicing organ playing? This feeling can arise from incorrect practice habits and can inhibit the advancement of an organist. Moreover, many organists after feeling frustrated may skip practice sessions for a long time and eventually quit practicing the organ altogether. In this article, I will give you 3 tips which will help you not to get frustrated when practicing the organ.
1. Remember your goal. Usually frustration sets in when we are unsatisfied with our progress or the results we are seeing. However, all this negative feeling can be avoided if you remember your goal, dream or vision as an organist.
It may be something general, like becoming a good organist or developing a solid organ technique or more specific, like learning any particular piece that you like or preparing for an upcoming recital or church service. Try to resist the thoughts that let you down and keep your mind focused on your goal. This way your mistakes and challenges will not seem as daunting to you.
2. Make a plan for your daily practice. Once you determine what your goal is, you have to create a plan of your daily steps to reach this goal. In other words, you will have to know what kind of specific action you have to take every day in order for your dream to become a reality.
For example, imagine that your piece is 3 pages long, each page having 4 lines which makes total of 12 lines. Your daily plan might be to learn 1 line per day and repeat the previously learned lines. As you can see, it will take 12 days to learn the entire piece and a few more to make your playing fluent. Of course, if you want to progress faster, you can always put in more practice time and learn more lines per day.
3. Take a slow tempo. Usually when we make a mistake it is because our practicing tempo is too fast. Here you have to understand the difference between practice and performance. You see, although faster tempo might be required when performing any particular piece in public, you have to play differently when practicing alone.
The best tempo for practicing is the tempo in which you can avoid making mistakes. So check how many mistakes you are making and slow down accordingly until they disappear. It really is that simple. You will not feel any frustration this way. On the contrary, you might feel some pride that you are seeing the results you want.
Do not worry about the concert tempo. You will reach it gradually when you are ready. As the saying goes, slow practice makes fast progress. Most importantly, remember you goal, stick to your plan and small challenges will seem insignificant to you. Remember that every practice session brings you closer to your goal one step at a time.
By the way, do you want to learn to play the King of Instruments - the pipe organ? If so, download my FREE video guide: "How to Master Any Organ Composition" in which I will show you my EXACT steps, techniques, and methods that I use to practice, learn and master any piece of organ music.
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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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