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!
V: Let’s start episode 605 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Klāvs, and he writes,
There are answers to your questions.
1. My dream for playing organ is to play in church services and in concerts. I have played in church services some times.
2. My 3 important things that are holding me back from realizing my dream is:
V: So Klāvs, I’m not sure where he’s from, but the name looks Latvian, right?
A: Seems like that, but it could be anywhere, actually.
V: Mm hm.
A: I’m not an expert on names.
V: If he is from Latvia, then he is our neighbor. Next door neighbor. Wonderful. So Klāvs wants to play the organ in church services and in concerts, which is pretty, pretty versatile way of looking at organ training, right Ausra?
A: Yes, and probably this is the most often heard wish as from I read in our listeners’ letters.
V: Talking about his equipment - he doesn’t have an organ at home and he has to go to church, right? And there is an organ with two manuals and pedal, which is not bad.
A: Yes, it is. And if he can access that instrument whenever he wants, it just means that he has to go to church to practice every day.
V: Yes. That’s what we did in our earlier days when we were students and working at churches. We would practice at the church, too, besides practicing, of course, at the music academy.
A: True. But, well, if you want to become a good organist, you always need to sacrifice something.
V: For example?
A: Well, for example, night sleep. Remember as we were students at the Academy of Music what good times we would get to practice, like at 6 a.m.?
V: 6? And not 7, you mean?
A: Well, yes. There was one year when we practiced from 6 a.m., at the Academy, we are talking, at 6 a.m, we would start practicing at 6 a.m. And it would close at 11 p.m. and we would practice until then, too. And sometimes you would practice in the evening until 11 p.m. and you would start practicing next day at 6 a.m. Such a life of being organists!
V: When there are only five practice organs in that academy, and let’s say 20 students, right, and then also professors, four or five, so yeah, we had to sacrifice some sleep, at least for awhile. But I don’t think that Klāvs needs to go to his church at 6 a.m. in the morning.
A: Let’s hope that he does not. But you know, if he doesn't like to go to church to practice every day, then he needs to acquire instrument of his own, on his own.
V: Yeah. And there are many choices, right? He can buy second hand organ, used organ. He can order a new one, both electronic or pipe organ. He can set up Hauptwerk in his home. Hauptwerk probably would be the most affordable because you can fit your needs, from the most expensive set-up and most real situation like organs, resembling pipe organs pretty well in layout and feeling, to the most affordable ways of playing just MIDI keyboard and simple pedal, digital pedalboard, which could be fit into any room.
A: Yes. And he mentions also that he needs quiet place where he can learn. That might be a problem, because if you are practicing at church, basically you might not be alone at any time. Which actually shouldn’t bother you, because that’s the life of an organist. But if you would get, like, MIDI keyboards, let’s say at home, then you could practice with your headphones.
V: Yes, like we do sometimes.
A: And that way you would be really, you know, alone - and you make your own quiet place by headphones. And neither you bother others nor others would bother you.
V: Yeah. Those noise-canceling headphones reproduce sounds pretty well, but also they block outside noise as well, pretty well. So it’s like win-win situation.
A: True. And about knowledge of playing technique, because he doesn't have organ teacher yet. Well, there are two possibilities: either to get an organ teacher, or to teach yourself, or look for online sources. Like for example, we have taught already quite a few organists how to play the organ, and help them to learn.
V: We’ve been doing this for 10 years, right, Ausra?
V: Maybe less. Since 2011. So 9 years now.
A: Well, yes, because nowadays there is so much sources and so much information available as it wasn’t before.
V: Yes. Just keep in mind that this is podcast number 605. So over 600 teaching material publicly available for free, is on our website, organduo.lt. Plus if you want to go deeper into training and learn faster than on your own, you could join our Total Organist program together with our other students. You would be part of that very intense community which support each other on Basecamp, and who have accountability and really grow much faster.
A: Yes, because I think it’s much easier to do it when you’re not on your own, and then you have people around yourself who will support you and help you.
V: Yeah, we have weekly organ contest, and people have been submitting videos there. Imagine you have a weekly goal to prepare one piece, upload to YouTube and then submit to our contest. This goal becomes your learning foundation, right, Ausra?
A: Yes, it really helps.
V: And pretty soon, you will learn enough pieces to play in a short recital. Like if you learn for starters, just one piece per week of let’s say two minutes long - couple of pages, right? So for a short recital, you would need probably 20 minutes long, 20 pages. So maybe after 10 weeks, you would have enough material to play this short recital, either from your home, online, or in your church.
A: Yes, and I think if you really want to learn, you will always find a solution.
V: Yes. And we’re here to help you grow. Right, Ausra?
V: So please send us more of your questions. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
V: This podcast is supported by Total Organist - the most comprehensive organ training program online.
A: It has hundreds of courses, coaching and practice materials for every area of organ playing, thousands of instructional videos and PDF's. You will NOT find more value anywhere else online...
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…
A: Sign up and begin your training today at organduo.lt and click on Total Organist. And of course, you will get the 1st month free too. You can cancel anytime.
V: If you like our organ music, you can also support us on Patreon and get free CD’s.
A: Find out more at patreon.com/secretsoforganplaying
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 311 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by David, and he writes that he is dreaming to play organs for fundraising concerts and for worship accompaniment, but obstacles in the way of his dream is a busy life, and that means that he cannot practice as often as he’d like. Ausra, have you ever played at fundraising concerts?
A: I don’t remember, now, actually. I might have played some in the United States, but that was a long way back.
V: I remember playing for Casparini organ in the Holy Ghost Church in Vilnius for members of a local Rotary club, and they tried to gather funds for the restoration of this instrument, but that was, I think, a small sum of money, in comparison to what was needed at that time.
A: Do you think such a concert is a sufficient way to raise funds?
V: It seems that everybody is doing them, right, like it’s a socially appropriate way of gathering funds involving community, congregation, perhaps. Why not? It’s one of the ways. David has a good idea for that. Of course, it depends how much a congregation is involved in general in the cultural life of the parish, of the church, and how much they feel ownership of the project, right?
V: If, for example, they are alienated by some politics going on inside of the congregation, people won’t bother joining in those fundraising efforts so much. I think the important thing is for them to feel welcomed and appreciated.
A: Yes, for example, in Lithuania, I don’t think you could raise money by playing an organ recital. Somehow, I doubt it.
V: In general, I think, in Lithuania, culturally acceptable ways to gather funds are somewhat different, right?
V: We always see on TV…
A: Usually it’s through pop music.
V: Pop music concerts, which are broadcast on TV.
A: Yes, and advertised all over.
V: Yes, and then people can call in, and a fraction of their….
A: Call would go to…
V: ...amount of the money that they would make on that call would go to that project, but I think it’s a very tiny fraction.
A: I’m not sure about that.
V: I’ve read it, that in general, some of those telephone companies are taking the big chunk. What else can people do to gather funds involving organs? How can we maybe think creatively in today’s environment with technology going across the board globally even, right? When you play a fundraising concert, this is just a local event. How many people will come? That many people will hear, and even a smaller portion of them will react and engage and give donations. But, what if people went globally with this, like.. platforms like Patreon, or Kickstarter, or Indiegogo.
A: Well, I don’t know. That might work, and may not.
V: It works for many other projects, right, for technology oriented projects. Let’s say you are a startup, you have some nice invention in your mind, and you want to gather funds to complete this idea, so you first create a prototype, and then show the people like a demo version, and then people get excited about that, and what happens later, they start to donate because the demo version is incomplete, and that way it could be done. But with organs, I’ve seen people do it for organ restorations, for example, and I’m not sure if David is planning to do fundraising for organ restorations, or just to play organ in fund raising concerts, which is different.
A: Yes, it is! Because, for example, I don’t think you would fund-raise in Lithuania for building an organ or restoring an organ, because in our country, it’s more common to raise funds for poor, for sick people. For example, we have this huge food gathering thing. I think at least 5 each year. There are more than, I think, 100 grocery stores that are involved, and there are two or three days that you can buy long lasting products and donate them.
V: Why do you think this campaign is so successful?
A: Well, I think it’s because it’s so widely spread, and nobody wants to be hungry, so I guess that everybody thinks that, “today I have food but maybe tomorrow I will not have it, and I will need support.”
V: Like, they have compassion.
A: Sure, because truly, we have too many poor people, especially elderly and of course lonely mothers with children.
V: Right. You know what I think, also? Social media might be a good catalyst for inspiring people to donate, but now, social media is no longer that effective as it was before, because Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, they all changed their algorithms in favor of paid advertisement, or communication between friends. So, what you see in your Facebook feed or what I see in my Facebook feed basically reflects my friends to whom I’m connected more strongly, right? I’m not seeing all those pictures and posts from all my network, just a fraction of it. So, if a person has a fund raising event, they might not involve their entire network, just a small portion of it, unless they decide to go the paid advertising way, and pay to Facebook to show the ads. But, somehow it contradicts the idea of raising funds, right, because they don’t have funds first of all to begin with?
V: What about those new platforms based on Blockchain? We’ve been using Steemit for a while now, and just recently, I think since October, we started posting on ONO network. O-n-o it is spelled, and the idea is that with every post, with every like, with every share and comment, you get back cryptocurrency called ONOT.
A: But it is worth nothing yet.
V: Yet… it’s worth nothing
A: So I think it’s like play for adults.
V: But wait until they allow people to trade on exchanges!
A: Well, let’s see. And I think you are judging false hopes.
V: Maybe. Could be. But imagine if I’m right, right? If people can really transfer those funds and convert them into real currencies somehow later on. That would change, a little bit, the landscape of fund-raising, too, because let’s say David wants to raise funds playing organs. All he has to do is just document his life, post in pictures and articles, and then people will like and share and engage, it could be with organ playing, of course, for organists, and he will start gathering cryptocurrency.
A: I don’t think he will get a sufficient amount.
V: We’ll see in the future, but that’s the idea, you see! The worth, of course, of that token “Onot” depends on the market itself—on demand—how many people will buy it.
A: So you see, this is optimistic, and I am pessimistic, or realistic.
V: So maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle, right?
A: I just believe that the world is full of social injustice in general, and some are very poor and the others are very rich—bloody rich.
V: The rich get richer with any system.
A: Yes. And I think we have more poor people with each year.
V: Right, but maybe that’s the reason they created such social Blockchain based networks, that people from poor countries could join in and become more financially independent.
A: Well, let’s talk about it maybe in two years.
V: In a few years. Yeah, we’ll see. Right. Every system has its own flaws, of course, it’s not perfect, and of course people, once they find out that it’s money involved, that you can gather money for your posts and likes, then they try to cheat the system, right, with spam comments, spam content, bots like software, posting instead of humans, and if the system itself cannot get rid of those fake accounts and abusers, then everybody suffers, you see?
V: We’ll see in a few years, how it develops. But, I think it doesn’t hurt to try, right? What if I’m right in a few years, and people will wait for a few years to see the results. Of course, the early adopters like we are will benefit more than late comers.
A: But, you know, if you have needs today, you cannot wait for a few years. So, that’s the problem. If you are rich enough to be able to live well today, you can do experiments and wait for a few years.
V: I read that people in Venezuela, for example, a very corrupt government, and it’s politically unstable, and financially basically very struggling country. People get a monthly salary of about $10 per month. Not per day, but per month! So, with this scenario, earning cryptocurrency, like $10 per month, is pretty easy actually. And I’ve seen people do that from poor countries as well. We’re not talking about hundreds of dollars, but just tens of dollars. So, that could really change the game for those people. And they are changing the game! Maybe there is hope, you see!
A: Well, let’s hope for it.
V: Thanks, guys, for listening. We hope this discussion raised a few more questions, right? Maybe more questions than answers, right now, which is nice, because with this, the more we think about this, the more we can take action and not be a passive observers, but take initiative and maybe take advantage of those new tools. Whatever happens in the future, we don’t know, of course. The value of those cryptocurrencies can go to zero, right? Or they can go to the moon! We don’t know. But, that’s the world. Nobody can predict the future. But, of course, if we sit on the couch, the real result will be nothing. Right? Those who never try, they never lose, of course. And as a disclaimer we have to add we are not financial advisers so you have to do your own due diligence.
A: And now, let's go and practice.
V: Yes, because when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
I spend last weekend in Liepaja, Latvia, playing the largest mechanical organ in the world in the fabulous Holy Trinity Cathedral. Together with Vilnius University choir "Pro Musica" and soloists Gunta Gelgote (soprano), Viesturs Jansons (tenor), Nerijus Masevicius (bass) we performed the Solemn Mass for Saint Cecilia by Charles Gounod (1855) under the leadership of Rasa Gelgotiene. This concert was a part of 14th International Organ Music Festival held every year in Liepaja, an enchanting town on the Baltic coast.
I had a few minutes on my own on that instrument and decided to create a couple of videos demonstrating this landmark organ (thanks go to Deimantas, my camera man and my assistant Maija Zakis).
Enjoy Part 1 and Part 2. Here are some photos of the event.
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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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