Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 373, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Emese. And, Emese writes:
Dear Ausra and Vidas!
Today I've played Das Alte Jahr... as well. It's so nice. Have you known that it has 12 measures and 365 notes. The genius of Bach.
I started playing the organ aged 53 (earlier I played the viola)—this means 5 years ago, but we had no proper instrument.
This year the renewal of our church came to an end and at last I've got a real organ. It's not a big instrument—it has got 8 stops=two manuals and pedal, made for our church. It was ready a week before Pentecost.
So a real exercise started then. From September I have less time for exercise—but at least once or twice a week I try in the evenings.
In these few months, I've learned mainly Bach works, pedal playing was new for me, but I enjoy practicing it a lot.
So I have learned: three Schubler chorales as BWV 645, 646, 649. I am still practicing BWV 655—it's one of my favorites. I can play it already by heart, but there is still a lot of work.
My next aim is Cesar Franck—Prelude in h moll op. 18
Instead of a postcard—my beloved organ.
Happy New Year!
Many thanks for the pieces of advice.
V: Ausra, don’t you think that Emese is lucky to have a new organ installed in her church?
A: Sure, it’s wonderful. Because although it’s not a big instrument, remember still, it’s a real organ, so it’s very exciting.
V: Two manuals and pedals and 8 stops is plenty for a little church, I think, and for practice purposes.
A: Sure. Because I think the worse thing is that you have sometimes too large instrument in a given room and then you cannot use more than half of the stops.
V: Exactly, and…
A: Remember we had that experience at Eastern Michigan University, where we had that large tracker organ in organ loft…
A: Studio. But that studio room itself wasn’t large but instrument was good size, three manual instrument.
V: It was by Canadian organ builder Gabriel Kney. And did you like by the way, the touch?
A; I liked it, yes.
A: I liked that instrument but it had to be in a room maybe ten times larger than it was.
V: Yeah. It was too loud.
V: But it’s a tracker instrument so it’s kind of rare to have trackers in the states. Of course, this situation changes, little by little because people understand that, obvious, probably called this of tracker organs more and more.
A: Yes it’s like eating healthy food and eating fast food.
V: Mmm-hmm. But of course electro–pneumatical action has it’s own advantages.
V: So it’s kind of… You have to choose, I think organist has to choose.
A: Well it depends on what kind of repertoire do you like to play.
A: But of course if you like J.S. Bach then tracker is your first choice.
V: So, Emese seems to be very fond of Bach’s works, and Emese studied Schubler Chorales—so far three of them, BWV 645 is "Wachet auf".
A: Yes, it’s one of everybody’s favorites, I believe.
V: Wonderful choice! It’s not an easy piece to start with but if Emese is practicing five years, since five years ago, so maybe it’s about time to take a trio texture.
A: Yes. I think its fascinating that people realize and want to play the organ, to start to learn organ, at such an age. It shows it’s never too late to learn something new.
V: Do you think, Ausra, that it’s too late for you to start something new?
A: Well, as Emese wrote, the main instrument was viola.
A: We are so, I guess, maybe I need to start to learn to play viola. I don’t think I would be so successful.
A: I don’t think I would be so successful. I don’t think I would be able to play something as hard as Schubler chorale in such a short time.
V: Right. Organ playing is like a second nature to us now, but it took twenty plus years, twenty five maybe years now. And...
A: And don’t forget all that piano background that we had as a children.
V: Exactly. We started playing since the year of six or seven, I think.
A: Or five.
V: Or five, as you. It doesn’t mean that everybody has to start so early or if it’s, if they start at age 53 or later, that it’s too late. It just means that you have to figure out the path for yourself and not compare too much yourself with others, especially prodigies. Sometimes we see on Youtube, children playing virtuoso pieces, not necessarily the organ though…
A: Especially Chinese children.
V: But piano for example, or violin.
A: Like five years old, lad sits at piano and plays Rachmaninoff or Chopin.
A: It really amazes me, all the time. Although I’m not sort of fond of youth like this.
V: And then, if you’d ask that kid, ‘what are you playing?’ Probably…
A: Probably he or she probably wouldn’t know.
V: Wouldn’t know even the composers name.
A: That’s right.
V: Or what else he has written. But anyway, I think Schubler chorales are very nice because they develop your coordination, hand and feet coordination, very well, because they are written in three parts, and each part is so independent. It’s written in a trio texture. It’s not like a trio sonata, where left hand imitates right hand, and vice-versa.
A: Have you played them all?
V: I have. Not necessarily in a concert setting but I have.
A: I have played three of them.
V: But they are good as an introduction to trio sonatas I think, if you would play like Emese did, three or four of them, or entire collection. Then after that, you might pick up a slow movement of trio sonata quite easily.
A: Yes, that’s right. And let’s talk a little bit about symbols in Bach’s music because as Emese wrote, there are twelve measures in that chorale, ‘ Das alte Jahr vergangen ist’, and 365 notes, so it resembles a year, entire year.
V: So you think it’s a coincidence?
A: No! It’s not coincidence, and it’s twelve measures long because the year has twelve months. I believe that there are so many symbols in Bach’s music that we cannot grasp them all.
A: But I think it meant for people in that time, something more than for us because we simply don’t see these things anymore.
V: And it means that this piece was also created as a kind of study, right? If you just play this chorale prelude, first of all, if you just copy it by hand, as his students might have done, and then if you practice it and then play it for your church service as an introduction for example, of the hymn at the end of year service, obviously, you wouldn’t notice any of it while playing. But while writing it out and maybe discovering clues like that, you would get a glimpse into the mind of the great composer.
A: That’s right! And just think how many other symbols there are in his music, such as his signature and his name signature and sign of cross, and all those other Baroque time rhetorical figures. Because usually the decision what key to use, already can tell a lot about the music.
V: Mmm-hmm. It is said that Bach’s music is like musical sermon—sacred music, I mean cantatas. In some sense also chorale preludes served this purpose as a commentary of the text of the chorales. And since those chorales were sung in Lutheran mass, then it’s really easy to see how composer created the musical commentary, I think for an intelligent audience, or even for himself to elaborate on the meaning of text.
A: Yes, that’s what I’m thinking too. But probably his music was intended first of all for himself. Because not everybody, even advanced musicians can comprehend his music so easily.
V: Right. And his contemporaries created much more, simpler compositions. Which means they knew the symbols but to some degree, not all of them probably. And, plus if you just add the polyphonic complexities that he’s writing, then this compositional style is well beyond the normal musician of the day.
A: I’m just wonder, if such a great mind as Bach’s would have chosen another subject for his research, not music, for example, science, what could he have achieved?
V: Well, it’s not a coincidence that Cristoph Wolff compares the great Johann Sebastian Bach with philosophers and scientists of the time, right?
A: Because surely, I think his works are equal with those great minds of the world.
V: Mmm-mmm. His musical discoveries are equal to those of Sir Isaac Newton, for example. And Bach’s influence for future generations also could be compared to those of great scientists.
A: And I guess we all are very lucky that we can touch Bach’s genius through his music.
V: And we continue to carry on this tradition to future generations, right? Because this lineage can be traced back to Bach directly, if we count, right?
A: So we are all somehow related.
V: To Bach. And through Bach to Sweelinck too. Okay, guys. 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!
Vidas: And let’s start Episode 101 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. And today’s question was sent by Paul, and he writes that his challenge is mainly his age, because he is 75 years old. First of all, Ausra, isn’t that great, that people still continue to improve when they are at this age?
Ausra: Yes, that’s wonderful.
Vidas: Do you think it’s too late to get better at this age?
Ausra: I don’t think so.
Ausra: Well, because I know some people who are 75, and they are very active, and are improving every day.
Vidas: And there are opposite situations, where people are just staring at the TV screen all day long, and they get weaker and weaker every day.
Ausra: Yes, I think some teenagers are older than some seniors. Because they just spend all day long playing with their smartphones and PlayStations and so on and so forth.
Vidas: So, the fact that Paul sent us this question already shows us that he’s on the right path: basically, he has enough curiosity to improve himself.
Vidas: He is not satisfied with the current state, and he wants to get better all the time...Maybe faster than is possible, right?
Vidas: Maybe we should just basically support him, and inspire him to look at the situation from outside himself and really appreciate how far he has come.
Ausra: That’s true. Because in general, I will be very happy if I live as long as to reach 75 years old; that’s a gift from life already, and it’s so nice that he’s still able to do things.
Vidas: So, what helps? Of course, we’re not 75 years old yet, and we don’t know how people feel at this age; but general pointers could be: keep moving.
Ausra: That’s true.
Vidas: Keep being active, moving in terms of physically, and also mentally.
Vidas: So mental practice is, of course, on the organ, very well. But also physical practice, as well.
Ausra: That’s true. Do you think, Vidas, that practicing organ slows down ageing a little bit?
Vidas: While you get older and older?
Vidas: I think it should, because your body gets a little bit weaker; but there are ways to postpone that process a little bit.
Ausra: And do you think organ is a good way to help do it?
Vidas: Yeah, especially because it’s primarily a mental activity. You’re looking at the symbols of music on a sheet of paper, which don’t mean anything to other people, perhaps; but you translate those symbols into meaningful musical ideas. So this is primarily a mental activity, which of course can just expand your mental capacity over time; of course that helps.
Ausra: Yes, I personally strongly believe that organ may reduce the risk of such diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis--not to prevent them entirely, but to slow down the development of those; because while playing organ, you always have to basically use your coordination to coordinate your hands and feet, and look at the music; and it helps your brain keep moving.
Vidas: Remember in our Unda Maris studio, we have a senior person who is maybe in her--I would say, maybe early 70s? She maybe started playing the organ not long ago, but she has trouble walking, right?
Vidas: She walks with the help of canes. And she enjoys playing the organ a lot, because of all those reasons, of course. It’s a good exercise mentally, and also physically.
Ausra: Yes, that’s true. It’s better than sitting at the piano, because your feet are moving, too. That’s a great advantage, actually.
Vidas: Yes. So don’t feel like you have stopped your progress, Paul, and others who are this age--maybe older. We have a lot of students who are even older, in their 80s, and even somebody who is 90 (or older) years old! So just keep practicing, keep getting better--1% of your efforts every day; and by the end of the year, you can look back, and you will see how you will have progressed a lot. Thank you so much, guys, keep sending us your questions; we love helping you grow as organists. This was Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: And remember, when you practice…
Ausra: Miracles happen.
Vidas: Let’s start now Episode 68 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. And today’s question was sent by Peter, and he says that his main challenge is old age and lack of practice. To be more specific, he writes:
“I would be interested in any techniques to promote a more flexible heel - the kind of thing you need when playing trills (even slow ones) with one foot.
Also can you explain why, after 40 years or more, I can still hit the wrong pedal note? (This must mean that, after all this time, I am still not sure of where each pedal is on the pedalboard. I don't have this trouble with fingers on keys. If I make mistakes there, it is nearly always because I mis-read the note, or failed to read the note at all, because I was looking somewhere else on the score.)”
Old age and lack of practice--but also, Peter struggles with playing wrong notes in the pedals, right, Ausra?
Ausra: That’s probably because he does not use the pedal preparation technique. That’s my guess.
Vidas: Obviously. We can guarantee. We can guarantee it, because otherwise he would write about this. If he would apply pedal preparation technique himself, he would say, “I’m using pedal preparation, but still making mistakes in the pedals.” So that would be a different sort of question, different angle.
Ausra: I know. And about playing trills in the pedal with one foot, using heel and toe?
Vidas: Do you know this specific example? I know just from my memory, “B. A. C. H.” by Liszt: at the end of that piece, there is a passage with one foot--or even octaves, heels with octaves, both feet should be playing trills, I think, there.
Ausra: Well, yes, but there are very few pieces that require you to do it; but if you have a piece like this, I would say the only suggestion would be to get different shoes, because your heel must be higher, for places like this. Then you won’t have so much trouble moving your ankle.
Vidas: Flexibility of the ankle. How do you develop flexibility of the ankle? It’s very simple: you play pedal scales and arpeggios.
Ausra: That’s true.
Vidas: That’s how Marcel Dupré in the early 20th century developed his perfect pedal technique over, I think one summer when he was a boy; and he had injured his wrist, so he couldn’t play with his hands for some time. But he didn’t stop practicing! He himself wrote: he “played the pedals with vengeance!” So that’s how he became a virtuoso on the pedals.
So guys, we have exactly such a training, right? Organ Pedal Virtuoso Master Course. And people who finish it--it’s exactly, I think, twelve weeks long--people who finish it say that after that, their technique advances not to the next level, but to the level after the next! Like a jump--it’s just like jump starting your pedal technique, and making a huge leap over time.
Vidas: It’s not easy, right, Ausra?
Ausra: Yes, it takes time.
Vidas: It’s not easy to play pedal scales.
Ausra: No, it’s not easy.
Vidas: Do you like those scales and arpeggio yourself?
Ausra: No. I don’t like them!
Vidas: I don’t, too. But I know that they’re like your...healthy food, like carrots or BROCCOLI. Do you like broccoli?
Ausra: I like, actually, broccoli.
Vidas: Oh, so you are different than me...But people who don’t like broccoli, but still understand the benefit of eating broccoli, they have to force themselves, a little bit, over a number of weeks, to get used to the taste of broccoli.
So, the same with pedal scales. And if Peter would practice pedal scales and arpeggios--especially from our course, because they’re all with complete pedaling, with exact pedaling that would allow a perfect legato technique to develop.
And that’s absolutely different than if you would play Baroque pieces, with alternate toes. We use this course specifically for Romantic and modern pedal technique, not for early pedal technique. And especially it would be helpful to develop ankle flexibility. That’s the key and secret to perfect pedal technique, right Ausra?
Ausra: Yes, that’s true.
Vidas: How else could we help Peter? He says old age…
Ausra: Well, he cannot, definitely, become younger, but he could make himself feel younger by exercising regularly.
Vidas: Um, let’s start with walking, right? A lot of people who haven’t exercised up until now, I think, would be hesitant to start it, right? To develop a new habit is very difficult, especially at this age, when you are over 60, right? But...everybody walks. For some time, for some minutes during the day, they walk. So the easiest form of exercise we’ve found--and very enjoyable--you could take a walk! In the park, in the woods, or along the river, right?
Ausra: Yes, and if you are too lazy to do that, so just get a dog. And then you will have to walk with your dog every day at least twice.
Vidas: Exactly. That’s required. How many steps do you need to take in one day, to stay in good shape?
Ausra: Ten thousand.
Vidas: Ten thousand steps daily. And how long does it take for you to do that, Ausra? Have you measured?
Ausra: Well, I haven’t, but I think you had…
Vidas: They have apps like that on the smartphone now, so you can measure your steps and be calculating time. And to me, it’s like 100 minutes. Of simply walking.
Ausra: So, almost and hour and a half.
Vidas: That’s one side. How can you stay active and in good shape besides walking? Can you do some form of stretching?
Ausra: Yes, you can do yoga, Pilates...and other kinds of exercises.
Vidas: We found that Pilates is especially good for organists because it develops your inner muscles--your core, basically, right?
Vidas: Especially helpful for when you have to sit for many hours at the bench. And for people who are struggling with back problems--there are a lot of them, among organists--the system that Joseph Pilates developed in the early 20th century is especially beneficial to them. And then Peter will not feel so old, right?
Ausra: Yes. You can sort of stop your age.
Vidas: Exactly. And drink plenty of water, guys, this could be extremely important. You have to drink maybe 8 cups of water a day....But not in one sitting, right?
Ausra: Haha, yes, definitely not! Now we sound like medical doctors, not like musicians...hahaha!
Vidas: No! You always have to consult your physician, right, when we talk about those physical things! Maybe there is a person who cannot really drink too much water--
Ausra: I know, yes.
Vidas: Who maybe has kidney problems...
Ausra: Or heart problems, too.
Vidas: Or with physical exercise. Maybe walking is not good for somebody who has, maybe, knee problems, right? Maybe swimming…
Ausra: Yes, swimming is excellent, if you have joint problems.
Vidas: But only you know your own condition, and your doctor would prescribe a specific form of exercise, an activity you could enjoy.
Ausra: We just simply suggest to you the things that we are doing ourselves, that work for us.
Vidas: Exactly. So please consult your physician--that’s imperative. But in general, being more active, taking frequent breaks between practice sessions, like every 25 minutes or so, is extremely helpful; and doing some kind of stretching never hurts, in my mind.
Vidas: Good, guys. Please send us more of your questions. This is fun, and we should do it more often! So, you could subscribe to our blog at www.organduo.lt if you haven’t done so already, and simply reply to our messages that you will get to your email inbox with advice and tips about organ playing, and send us more questions this way. And we would love helping you grow as an organist. Okay, this was Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: And remember, when you practice…
Ausra: Miracles happen.
Vidas: Let’s start Episode 55 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. This question was sent by Morton, and he writes:
“Dear Vidas, recently more people have wanted to practice on the organ in the chapel that I practice on. It is a 3 manual Johannus, and it is just fine for me.
We are asked to sign up in advance for no more than four hours a week - I usually sign for two hours on two separate days. Naturally if no one has signed up, I guess anyone can practice during that time.
During the first semester a number of sections of a university required class have to visit the chapel during one week. That means that the time available to those of us who want to practice is more limited. We don't have that problem the second semester, - at least so far.”
And here is the question that Morton is writing about:
“My struggle is bringing pieces I learned many years ago back to life again. Why didn't I keep them up? Because previously I didn't have a 32-note pedalboard for a number of years at my disposal - and I had no opportunity to play JSB's Prelude and Fugue in D (which I've brought back to life somewhat), his Prelude and Fugue in G Minor (which is not played often) and the first Chorale Prelude from the 18 Great Chorale Preludes.”
This is a sophisticated piece--
Vidas: On a chorale fantasia called, “Komm, heiliger Geist” by Bach, from the Leipzig collection, right? Anyway, he writes further:
“I was able, however, to bring back to life, for example, the Toccata from Boellmann's Suite Gothique. I was able to bring back a JSB Prelude and Fugue in C that is never played but which is not too difficult. I was able to bring back a JSB Prelude in G Major (there is no fugue with it - it is found in a Concordia Wedding Book collection)”
So, Ausra, Morton is struggling with bringing pieces up to speed from many years ago.
Ausra: Well, that’s a common struggle. He told in his letter that actually, some of his pieces, he was able to manage quite well, to recollect quite easily, because they were easier pieces. With other pieces, of course, it’s much harder to regain the skills.
Vidas: Ausra, have you played--recently, maybe, from recent years--a piece from your early days, from your student life, which you maybe mastered in the Academy of Music in Lithuania or even in America?
Ausra: Well, yes, definitely.
Vidas: What was the piece?
Ausra: Well, the last piece, I think, was E-flat Major Prelude and Fugue by J.S. Bach from Clavierubung III.
Vidas: And you played it many years ago?
Ausra: Well, not too many years ago, but yes, that was my piece from my last doctoral recital. So it was some eleven years ago.
Vidas: In Nebraska.
Vidas: So I remember this moment, when you first opened this piece here at home, and you were rather worried, how it would come out, the first time.
Ausra: Well because, it’s a long piece--this was my biggest worry.
Vidas: And how it turned out? How long did it take you to get back to the previous skills, with this piece?
Ausra: Well, about a month, actually.
Vidas: How long did it take for you to learn, to master this piece eleven years ago?
Ausra: Haha, I think I learned it faster than I had repeated it!
Vidas: Yeah, it was like, like a marathon.
Ausra: Because I know that I learned the text of all that part of Clavierubung in a month. But that time I was young and diligent.
Vidas: And now, you are not young anymore, but still diligent?
Ausra: Well, I don’t have so much time to practice as I did in those days.
Vidas: So for Morton, it’s the same situation as for you, right? It will take probably a month for him to get back to this previous skills--with one piece, not with a lot of pieces, just one.
Ausra: Sure. I would suggest, in general for all the organists: when you learn your piece, and you like it, and you know that in the future you might want to repeat it and perform it again. So time after time, just play it through, sometimes. That way, you will keep in shape and when you will want to perform it again, it will be much easier for you to do it.
Vidas: Occasionally. Once a month.
Ausra: Maybe once a month, or every other month.
Vidas: It’s like sight-reading, basically, but an old piece.
Vidas: Just play it once, and put it away for a number of months. And practice something else, and then come back--and this piece will be there, waiting.
Ausra: Yes, definitely.
Vidas: But I’m practicing now, a few pieces, also, from my previous years; and for the fall semester, it will be also a challenge to regain my skills, with maybe D Major Prelude and Fugue by Bach, BWV 532. And I’m not still positive about that.
Vidas: But it’s one of the options. So yes, I will also take about a month to refresh my skills.
Ausra: That’s a funny piece, especially the opening of it. Very fun to play the pedal part.
Ausra: Have fun and good luck with it!
Vidas: I would say the fugue is more complicated than the prelude. For me.
Ausra: It is, but--I don’t know if I have ever played that opening nicely. It would just give me some sort of spasms. I don’t know why!
Vidas: Maybe the pedaling sometimes is complicated--if you try to play legato, and you play heel-toe, heel-toe, this way, then it is complicated; but if you use the alternate toe, pedaling is no problem.
Ausra: Well, I don’t really know. I practiced this piece while I was studying with Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra at EMU, and definitely I only used my toes, because, Pamela is such a great specialist of early music. But it still was not so easy, probably because the tempo was too fast.
Vidas: Mhmm. So wish me luck in repeating this piece!
Ausra: Yes, good luck.
Vidas: And for other people who are repeating any other pieces in your repertoire, from a decade ago, or maybe more years ago, try to spend some quality time with this piece--maybe thirty minutes a day for a month, and you will soon enough discover that your skills will come back in this piece, too.
Vidas: Thanks guys, and send us more of your questions, because we love helping you grow as an organist. And don’t forget to subscribe to our blog, and reply to our messages. When you come back--when you reply to us, we will be glad to help you out. So the blog is at www.organduo.lt, and you simply enter your name and email address (and you can specify the delivery, when you would like to get those messages delivered: every day, or once a week, you can choose).
Okay! Thanks guys, this was Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: And remember, when you practice…
Ausra: Miracles happen.
Just a quick note to let our readers know we're very excited to announce that our first e-book is finally ready!
Is It Possible to Learn to Play the Organ When You Are 56 Years Old (And Other Answers from #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast)
Right now it has a low introductory price of $2.99 until August 9.
It's dedicated to all our students who are 26, 56 or 96 years old and still continue to practice.
If you love reading the transcripts of our podcast, we hope you'll enjoy it.
Let us know what you think and share this message with your friends and enemies.
Thanks for caring,
Vidas and Ausra
#AskVidasAndAusra question posted by Joanna, our Total Organist student:
"Dear Vidas and Ausra,
I am 56 years old and I have been playing organ for three years. I used to play the violin and piano before but not to an advanced level so I am finding the organ playing very hard. I practice for 1 ½ hours a day or more and I am improving but very slowly.
Do you think it is possible for me to study organ at my age or is it too difficult for me? Sometimes I wish to study longer when I have the time but either my neck is hurting or my back is hurting etc. It is not easy when you get older. Sometimes I just feel like giving up.
I am studying on my own as there is a big shortage of organ teachers in Malta so I find your emails and videos very useful. I downloaded some pieces a few days ago with fingering from your website. I find fingering very difficult as I do not have enough experience so these edited pieces with fingering written in are a blessing for me.
Thank you for your videos and emails."
Listen to our answer at #AskVidasAndAusra 5
If you want us to answer your questions, post them as comments to this post and use a hashtag #AskVidasAndAusra so that we would be able to find them.
When you practice, miracles happen.
Vidas and Ausra
(Get free updates of new posts here)
Vidas: Hello guys this is Vidas
Ausra: and Ausra
Vidas: and today is episode number 5 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast; and today's question was posted by Joanna. Joanna is 56 years old and she asks, "Is it not too late for her to start learning the organ?" Because she noticed how difficult sometimes it is for her to play. Her neck and her back hurts. So, this was her question. What do you think, Ausra?
Ausra: Well, I remember she mentioned that she plays some musical instruments, yes? So, I think, piano, yes? And flute, am I right?
Vidas: It could be yeah. Could be.
Ausra: Yeah, so you know, because she had played piano in her life, I don't think it would be so hard for her to play the organ because still it's a keyboard.
Vidas: Yeah! Do you remember we have a few students who are above 50 and even 60, right?
Vidas: For example, one is Regina in our Unda Maris studio. How old is she, by the way?
Ausra: Well, she's about to retire, so she's about 60 years old.
Vidas: Uh huh. 60 years old, and even more. So when she started playing was maybe six years ago, right?
Vidas: About in her mid-50s I would say.
Ausra: And she also had some experience playing piano before, like during her childhood.
Vidas: Yeah, and she had a great dream to master those eight little preludes and fugues. And by now she can play six of them.
Vidas: I think only two of them are left: G Major, right?
Vidas: And what, A Minor?
Ausra: A Minor, yes.
Vidas: Uh huh. And she makes constant progress. She might have a few problems and challenges like everyone else, but she never stops progressing and practicing.
Ausra: Of course you have to take care of herself while practicing, you don't have to play for a very long time and have to exercise, to relax her muscles. Because yes otherwise your back will hurt.
Vidas: Yeah. So it's better to take frequent breaks, right?
Vidas: One technique I found very useful was Pomodoro Technique, where you practice for 25 minutes, and then take five minute break. And again you can practice later for 25 minutes and then five minute break. And if you do this, you can even practice for a few hours without getting tired.
Ausra: Yes. And you know, it's not because of your age. I think you can hurt yourself, your muscles, your back, even at very young age if you practice without thinking what you are doing, actually. Because they have many students at my school where I teach, they suddenly do something with for example their arms, and they cannot play anymore. Sometimes they even have to quit school, because they overuse the arms.
So I think sometimes age can be actually, in her advantage, can help you because the more mature you get, the more intelligent your practice becomes. Because you can control yourself better than at a very young age.
Vidas: Right. Because kids, the kids usually don't have that focus level of maturation; well, some of them do, but not many of them.
Ausra: Because for example, you tell your students all the time, "Don't practice your piece throughout; don't play from the beginning to end, just take, pick up a few hard spots and practice those parts. And then you play it throughout." But they never listen, they just keep playing from the beginning to the end. And those parts that are easy, are becoming even easier, and those hard spots don't make enough progress with them. But if you are more mature and you know what you're doing, then it’s for you to understand what you have to do first. And don't waste time.
Vidas: Yes. So if you are in a situation like Joanna today, I hope you will not give up. Because just yesterday I wrote an email answer to a beginner organist who was in his 90s. 90 years old. And a few weeks ago, I also wrote and answered him to another 90s old, over 90 years old organist. So we have students like that.
The most important thing is probably for you to be better than yourself yesterday. Today better than yesterday. That's all we need to think about, that's all we need to compare ourselves to.
Ausra: And I think all that learning experience, it should give you joy and excitement. And it's a very good therapy, I would say.
Vidas: Yeah, at this age playing organ also prevents many diseases, illnesses like Alzheimer's, it helps with other things ... because your brain is constantly working and exercising. Brain is like a muscle in a way, right? You need to work out.
Ausra: And you know, I guess that your final goal is not to be virtuoso like Mozart. It’s OK.
Vidas: Just enjoy the privilege of practicing. Wonderful. So this episode was brought to you by our Total Organist program, and Joanna is also taking a free trial of this program and downloading many fingering and pedaling scores we provide. Because at this age, people are eager to learn new things; but if you don't have experience at writing fingering and pedaling, it will take ages for you to learn something, right? Because you even don't know if you are on the right track.
Vidas: So that's why we are dumping all our scores and all our training into Total Organist now. Whatever we create, we are putting and publishing in the Total Organist section so that people who are most eager to learn, and our most loyal subscribers - because that's what it is, Total Organist, they can really take advantage of them, and get better faster than they would do on their own.
So 30 days for free, you can try it out right now. It’s very good deal. It's the most comprehensive organ training program online.
Thanks for listening, guys. This was Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: And remember: when you practice,
Ausra: Miracles happen.
They can't be expected to sing or play art music.
They can't learn a new language.
They can't learn a new skill.
They are too ignorant to start a business project.
Because they're old.
This notion that only young people can be successful and follow their dreams comes from overemphasizing abilities of the physical body. When the body gets older, for many people it seems that the value of the person diminishes. For a senior person who buys into this myth, the meaning of life diminishes as well.
But following your dreams has nothing to do with what your body can or cannot do and has everything to do with the bravery of the mind.
Bravery is a skill which can be taught and learned whether you are 7 or 97.
Leap (in your mind, of course).
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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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