Redeveloping the discipline of practicing to really learn (and relearn!) organ pieces
Imagine a situation when you had a fairly good organ technique in the past, you could sight-read rather well, learned new pieces quite quickly to the best of your satisfaction and hymn-playing was a relatively easy task.
However, the years went by and for some reason you had fallen into bad habits of practicing and as a result you started to play organ music quite poorly - with lots of mistakes, with accidental fingerings and pedalings. Also you seem to have forgotten everything about articulation.
Does this sound familiar? If so, I have a few tips which might get you on track right away:
1. Pay attention do every detail. Things to keep in mind obviously are the correct notes, rhythms, articulation, fingering, pedaling, ornaments and posture.
2. Because the above point is easier said than done, work in small fragments of about 4 measures repeatedly. Playing the entire piece too often does no good.
3. Reduce the texture for practice purpose to a single voice. If you can play a soprano line of that fragment effortlessly, practice the alto in the same way and so on. In this manner you can later do all combinations of two and tree voices before putting everything together.
4. Resist the tempation to speed up. Play at 50 % the concert speed at first. Only when you can effortlessly play at this tempo your entire piece, you can start playing a little faster.
I know the above points sound like a lot of focused work. But it does make a difference and it is well worth the effort. The joy of playing organ music beautifully will transform your life and the life of those around you for the better.
Have you redeveloped your bad practice habits into the efficient ones? If so, please share your experience of how you did it in the comments below.
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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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