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: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 695 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. Today, we’d like to talk a little bit about how and why Total Organist Community has migrated from Basecamp to Discord, right Ausra?
A: Yes, that’s a big journey.
V: Yeah. Basecamp has served our purposes very well for four or five years, and we were very very happy how it works, and what was your experience, Ausra, with Basecamp communication?
A: Well, I was slow at the beginning with all unfamiliar platforms, but I was very happy after, afterwards. I got used to it. And during the pandemic, when I had to teach online and school hadn’t suggested any alternatives, we were just, you know, said that we had to do it, and I was happy that Vidas allowed me to use Basecamp for my students. So I did that for a few months until school bought access to Google Classroom. Then I switched to that, because we were required to use Google Classroom.
V: That’s right. And yeah, for our purpose it served various teams. Like our university Unda Maris studio was on Basecamp, separate channel. For communications, it really worked very well. But the thing with Basecamp is that it costs, well, $99 per month, or $1,000 per year if you pay yearly. And for large teams, for large corporations, it’s okay, because they don’t charge anything for extra people. Because lots of project management software charges specific fee, maybe a low fee, but still one fee for each extra person.
V: So imagine if we have 10 people and you get charged 10 times for each person. But Basecamp has just one flat fee. Except this fee is a little bit strange, because if you have 20 people on your team, you can still get a free personal Basecamp account, right? And for small private lessons, that could be possible, right? For our Unda Maris studio could be possible because we have less people. But if you have 21 people on your team, the first, it’s already, you already pay the same as you would for 1,000 people on your team, you know?
V: Or 10,000.
A: Yes, that’s a little bit unfair.
V: And I asked them to adjust their pricing a little bit for smaller teams like we have; for family corporations like Ausra and I have. But they were very inflexible, and they said, “Sorry, that’s our policy,” you know, ok? And for a long time, for a few years, it served our purposes. But in this economy, to pay $1,000 per year just for communication, it’s hard to justify this expense Ausra, right?
A: Yes, it’s a little bit too much.
V: Yeah. So we decided to go ahead and look for other platforms, maybe free versions. And of course the first that came to us, to mind, was Discord. Discord is very popular platform for groups, for communities. It was created for gamers. It’s a gamer platform to chat while livestreaming. It’s very robust and has many features that gamers love. But today, actually during the pandemic, as all of their communication chatrooms have expanded their coverage to offer much more comprehensive approach to chats, to communities. And now they can handle all your communication needs, whatever your interests are. Basically, if you have a club, if you have a team of people like we do with Total Organist, or Secrets of Organ Playing community too, they can chat in real time in Discord. The thing that we loved probably the most on Basecamp, and we were actually hesitant to move for quite awhile from Basecamp to anywhere else, was those automatic questions that you would get every day, or every week, or every month. Like, “What have you been working on?” And people would answer - not all of them, but some people would get involved, and that’s very very nice. Did you like those questions?
A: Yes, I liked those a lot.
V: And for a long while, I thought it would be hard to replace that automatization in other platforms because I didn’t find those features in free platforms like Discord. But recently, I found that there is automation platform called Zapier, and you can automate everything that you do. You get, for example - now we have the same questions, but they are delivered to Discord channel through the Zapier bot. I set up that bot in advance, and for customize day or date or time, they can deliver a customized message. And that saves a lot of time, because…
A: Oh yes.
V: …every day we don’t have to pose the same question over and over again.
A: Yes. Yes.
V: And for the same number of people, so everybody will get them. So we’re very happy.
A: Yes. And today I already started to use Discord, because before that I hesitated, because I didn’t like those moving stickers.
V: Yeah. Well, when people join Discord, you can send a wave, like with a sticker. And that sticker is like moving picture, like GIF. And it starts to wiggle hands or say something like an animation.
A: It’s very distracting.
V: Yeah, it’s also fun!
A: It is fun, yes.
V: It’s a happy picture.
A: It is very happy. But maybe I’m just too old for such happy figures.
V: Yeah, could be. So we set up the same channels that we had on Basecamp, we set up on Secrets of Organ Playing Community on Discord. We have General Channel, we have Welcome Channel, we have Training Materials, we have Fingering and Pedaling for our team, and Podcast Transcriptions for our team to share. We have Announcements Channel, and we have Support Channel, people could ask questions if they need help. It actually even has one extra channel that Basecamp didn’t have, that’s Voice Channel. You could actually transmit livestreams, voice livestreams through Discord. I haven’t used it before, but it could be something that we could think about.
A: I think we will try it.
V: Voice, like radio, right? We could set up radio for our members. And that works really well. And a number of people have already joined in from Basecamp, they already moved. And some of them who haven’t moved, they will probably join later. The link is available if you are listening to this conversation at a later date, the link is always available on Total Organist Dashboard when you log in to your account, and you will see the link to Discord, right? We are offering the same community also, but with a little bit different privileges. To our Buy Me a Coffee subscribers to select levels. People who are paying $10 per month or more- €10 per month or more, so they could get access to this private Secrets of Organ Community, except they wouldn’t be able to see Total Organist training materials. Is that fair, Ausra?
A: Yes, I think that’s fair.
V: Yeah, because that’s not included in their membership of course. So we have a few students from Buy Me A Coffee platform who we teach privately like coaching one-on-one, and they get access to this Discord community as well. So, shall we recommend and encourage people to look into private coaching if they need private one-on-one help?
A: Of course, I think it’s very helpful.
V: Yeah. Some people need group lessons, group materials videos like we do in Total Organist. That’s okay for some. But for some, they specifically contact me or Ausra to teach them something one-on-one. And that’s how we use Buy Me A Coffee platform now. These specific levels get various types of rewards. And those rewards mean that they get specific numbers of private lessons through Zoom platform with us one-on-one, depending on the level that they choose. All right, so that’s about Discord. It’s been wonderful for me. I’ve been using it for the last week or so to communicate with those new members who have jumped in. And it’s been working. I haven’t seen any complaints so far, because it’s very accessible. You can specify your theme. It has a night theme, it has white theme. I like a darker theme for my eyes. Ausra likes white theme for her eyes. So I think you will get the best suitable appearance for yourself as well. So anyway, if you’re listening to this conversation at a later date, please remember Basecamp is no longer our choice for communication of Total Organist Community and Buy Me a Coffee community as well. So we have moved to Discord for now. And if we ever decide to change the platform of course you will get notified with another announcement.
A: Yes. Thanks for listening.
V: 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 Buy Me a Coffee platform and get early access:
A: Find out more at https://buymeacoffee.com/organduo
It's been 3.5 years since I've been helping organists from all over the world reach their dreams in organ playing. If it wasn't for my loyal readers, I've never would have been able to provide tips, advice, and specialized training for organists. Right now we have a vibrant community of 2400+ subscribers to this blog, plus people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
It all started with humble beginnings (Stage 1) - around Christmas of 2011, I started posting articles with various advice on how to play the organ. Interaction with my subscribers led me to create various training programs later on. To help those people who are the most committed, in April 2013 I started my membership program - Total Organist. This was the beginning of Stage 2.
Now we are entering Stage 3 of Secrets of Organ Playing - SOP podcast interviews with internationally renown experts from the organ world - concert and church organists, improvisers, educators, composers, organ builders, musicologists and other people who help shape the future of our profession. These audio conversations and stories will definitely be inspiring to a lot of people from our community.
Be on the lookout for the SOP Podcast #1 on Sunday. I hope you are as excited as I am.
What I'm working on:
Writing in the chord symbols for Modulation Workshop Week 10. Editing SOP Podcast #1. Adapting Sonate No. 1 for Organ (1968) by Lithuanian composer Teisutis Makačinas for the great organ of Vilnius University St. John's church.Transposing setting "Jerusalem the Golden". Practicing Exercise No. 1a, from 12 Technical Polyphonic and Rhythmic Studies Op. 125 by Oreste Ravanello (HT to Leon). Preparing for improvisation recital on August 8 "The Little Mermaid" at my church. Composing "Morning in the Countryside".
As a courtesy to my loyal subscribers and students, I just wanted them to be aware that my special discounted Total Organist offer ends on midnight tonight. This is great news for current members, too. They can subscribe at the 50 % discounted rate (while canceling the old regular rate).
Take action now, if you want to join others who are in this program which has the best value in any area of organ training anywhere.
If you have already subscribed over the weekend, make sure you start your training by visiting the Welcome page after loging in at the right hand side top corner of this blog. On the Welcome page you will find all available courses and trainings to register to. There's plenty to choose from, as you'll see.
A note for people who are wondering if they can still subscribe to separate courses only (such as Organ Playing Master Course, Level 1) etc.:
Right now it doesn't make sense to pay for the courses separately, when there is such a great discount on Total Organist. For example, if you choose Premium or Premium Plus monthly memberships, you can take any other additional courses that you like and cancel after 3 months (if you are no longer interested).
Here's the amazing part - this would cost you 50% less than if you would subscribe for one course only. And for the price of one course, you would get something like 6 months with Premium.
As it says on that page, Total Organist is the best value in any area of organ training anywhere:
Of course, it's your choice. But I just wanted to make sure that you are aware of the differences in the hope that you will want to transform your organ playing forever.
14 months have passed since I created my Total Organist program (thank you all who signed up since then). During this time tenths of courses and trainings, and hundreds of videos and PDF exercises have been created which helped to increase the value of the program enormously.
At first I kept counting the value in dollars for someone who would have signed up for all of the trainings separately but now I gave up counting. It's incredible how much you can learn when subscribing for any of the 3 subscription plans which I consciously made to be as affordable to people as possible.
I also have noticed how many of the members react when I create a new training or a course and add it to the Total Organist area. Most of the time they immediately sign up for it. Sometimes they would even literally complain in the best sense of the word when I wasn't quick enough to post the training on the members area. This is an excellent idea. It shows me that these courses are indeed needed and helpful to them.
For Basic Membership level I have been quietly creating many instructional videos which haven't been released anywhere else. Many of them are done on a lovely 3 manual mechanical action organ in my church.
In order to delight my students even more, I decided to add a special Member Forum and yearly subscription plans (in addition to monthly options) - something that current and future members will definitely enjoy.
Member Forum will enable my students not only ask questions and make comments about any area of organ playing but also provide them with the tools to communicate with each other, something that could be very valuable for many people who want to support and get support from their peers.
Yearly subscription plans are designed to give committed members some big savings (actually free two months) of any membership level.
When I first created Total Organist, I wasn't sure for how long people will stick with this program. Although cancellations do happen from time to time (they can cancel anytime without any commitment and risk), most of the people have been very loyal to me and continue to subscribe.
As a way of saying thanks for their loyalty, I will be focusing all of my efforts on helping my students grow even more in organ playing so prepare for more innovative trainings and courses to be added to Total Organist program soon.
Besides, this page now has a fresh and clean look. You can check it out here.
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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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