By Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene (get free updates of new posts here)
Do you play some piece of organ music with difficult page turns and feel you need an assistant to turn pages for you?
Sure, that's what you should do, if you're playing in public.
But for organ practice purposes, why don't you learn to turn pages yourself?
It gives you a certain level of confidence, self-reliance, even freedom.
I find that even in the most dense musical textures, where there aren't really any significant rests for either hand, you can still turn a page. Here's how:
Figure out, which hand plays melodically crucial part. Keep playing that part but with another hand turn the page.
Memorize the connections in both pages - 4 measures total (2 at the bottom and 2 - at the top).
Practice the turns over and over. They should become part of the performance of the piece.
Who knows, maybe you'll find out you don't need a page turner after all.
A page turner can be really indispensable for an organist. When you play multi-page pieces chances are not all pages are in a proper layout to accommodate page turns by the organist. So a person standing next to you while you play can be of great help.
But what can you do to reduce the need of a page turner dramatically?
What about finding the places in your score which have at least a couple of beats of rests for one hand? This hand could turn the page while another would continue playing.
You can also turn the page by leaving out some of the non-essential middle parts. You see, the most important voices usually are soprano (the melodically most developed voice) and the bass (the foundation of harmony). That's why leaving out tenor and turning the page with the left hand sometimes is possible.
You can also memorize a few measures before the page turns and after them to play it fluently without looking at the score and turning the page later.
Finally, you can photocopy the score and shrink its size in half so that more pages would fit on the music rack without the need of turning them (although it does give some strain to your eyes).
If you play from a tablet, there are special apps which facilitate page turns. They have wireless pedals for that to press with your toes.
Whenever you need a person to turn the pages for you, make sure he/she turns them at least a few beats in advance. Memorizing the transitions helps to ensure it will go smoothly.
Of course, don't forget to make sure your photocopied pages are in the right order. I've seen some circus worthy movements by the organist and assistant during the performance when they're don't.
Usually people who are poor sight-readers are poor page turners as well for obvious reasons.
What's your experience with a page turner? Do you always need someone to stand next to you and do it for you? Have you worked with a page turner who was so nervous that you wish you didn't ask for his/her help?
Ausra's Harmony Exercise:
Transposing Sequence in A Major: I64-V9-V7-I
Every organist probably had a situation when the pages of organ music were flipping over during the performance. This can be quite frustrating because it may mess up the overall quality of the playing. Here is what you can do if the pages keep flipping over:
1. Photocopy the piece and tape the sheets together. Although the copyright laws require that you play copyrighted music from the original scores, no one will blame you if you photocopy the piece for your own convenience but have the originals with you.
2. Go to printing and photocopying service and ask them to cut and bind the collection (my favorite). They will cut the borders and use spiral coil binders. This way your pages will easily open 360 degrees.
3. Adjust the music rack so that it is more horizontal. The problem with flipping over pages might also be the position of the music rack on your organ. If it is too vertical, some books will not stay open. If you could adjust the music rack to the more horizontal position, then often it will be enough to keep the pages open.
4. Find a different edition of the piece in horizontal page layout. Books with horizontal page layouts will stay open more easily than the vertical ones. Because there is so much variety of organ music editions, often you can play from such a collection. However, many modern organ composers have their music published with only one publisher so your choices might be limited with modern music.
5. Play from tablet PC. As the technology is getting more advanced by the day, many performers nowadays are choosing to play not from the printed score but from tablets. You can either find copyright free music online or scan your originals to use with your tablet. You can even find a device (it looks like a pedal) with an app which help turning pages without the use of your hands.
6. Play the piece from memory. If you could memorize your piece, then you won't even need all the previous tips. Of course, memorizing takes time and you should follow a systematic approach, if you want to feel secure in your public performance without music.
Apply some of these tips when you prepare to play your pieces in public. They will give you some piece of mind and you will feel much more confident and secure during the performance. After all, you have so much to think about besides keeping the pages from flipping over so it's better to take care of this problem ahead of time.
By the way, do you want to learn my special powerful techniques which help me to master any piece of organ music up to 10 times faster? If so, download my video Organ Practice Guide.
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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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