Every organist admires people who can play flawlessly without any mistakes. Such a performance seems like taken directly from a CD recording. While listening to live concerts of top level organists we are wondering how they are able to play without mistakes not one piece but the entire recital. Most people can play with accuracy a slow piece but when it comes to playing in fast tempo, they might hit at least a few wrong notes. This is the opposite with world class artists. There is seemingly no limit of their finger and pedal technique. Achieving that level can take years of dedicated practice but there are certain elements which can help you to progress faster along the road to perfection.
In this article, I would like to give you some advice on how to eliminate mistakes in organ playing. This article is not about the situation when you make mistakes because you do not know the piece well enough and leave some difficult passages not fully mastered. Instead, I am writing about a situation when you think that you have already mastered the piece but during the actual performance accidentally hit the wrong notes here and there.
One of the most important techniques which can help you to play without mistakes is a slow practice. If you struggle with accurately playing in a fast tempo, it is crucial to understand that slow practice is a key to success. Even though the piece is fast, you will only be able to reach this tempo through a slow practice.
On the contrary, if you usually practice at a concert tempo, the time may come when you will not be able to be in control. In fact, constantly practicing in a fast tempo is actually quite dangerous. You may reach the point of making mistakes habitually and consistently at the same spot. So practice slowly in order to have a full control of your piece. When you are ready, you will reach the fast tempo naturally.
If you know the piece really well, mistakes usually occur when you are not aware of every detail, every note or every passage. The music just flies by and you may accidentally hit the wrong notes. This can be cured with slow practice because through it you will get accustomed to notice every important note and every single detail.
Work in Fragments
If you want to be able to eliminate mistakes in your organ playing, another recommendation would be to subdivide the piece into smaller episodes and work in fragments. If you practice in shorter fragments (4 measures or so at a time), then every mistake you make will be easy to fix. For example, if you make a mistake, stop at that point, go back a few measures and play the same fragment correctly at least free times in a row. Note that if you play correctly twice but make a mistake on the third try, you will have to start counting from the beginning.
However, if for some reason you loose patience and continue playing the piece until the end even after making the mistake, chances are that next time you will do the same mistake in the same spot. Remember that if you are constantly practicing eliminating mistakes and forming good practicing habits, then you are progressing the right way. On the other hand, if you don’t fix your mistakes and play with them every time, actually, you are practicing your mistakes, which just move you farther away from your goal.
So have patience, practice slowly, work in fragments, correct your mistakes and you will see some real advancement in 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.
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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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Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.