Not every organist who plays this instrument masters the organ playing and achieves the high level. Many fail to stick with it for a long time and quit before they even start to see the results of their playing. This can happen because they fall into one or more pitfalls that slow down their progress. Avoiding these mistakes can save you much precious time and energy.
1. Having too many wishes. Because so much of the organ music is so beautiful, sometimes people cannot decide which pieces are the most important to them to practice for the moment. They watch videos or listen to recordings, find a piece that they like and start practicing. However, the next day they might find another piece and the same will happen.
And so they have just too many pieces to learn for one practice session. Only the very best organists with much experience and extraordinary sight-reading skills can prepare for several recitals simultaneously. So limit your wishes and keep other pieces waiting for you in the future.
2. Laziness. Let’s face it, many people are just too lazy to learn to play the organ. Although this can be changed, they spent most of the time wishing they could be practicing and dreaming of how to become skilled in organ playing instead of just sitting down on the organ bench and start practicing. If you are serious about organ playing, never let a day pass without some practicing.
Even if the full practice time is unavailable to you, you can spend some 20 minutes just repeating what has been learned the day before. Remember, there is a saying, if you miss one day of practice, only you will notice it. If you miss two days, your teacher and your friends will notice it. If you spend three days without practice, everyone will notice it.
3. Lack of prioritizing. The reason many organists do not practice regularly is due to their poor ability to prioritize. If they have other responsibilities besides playing the organ, they need to set firm priorities what is most important to accomplish each and every day. Do the tasks which are urgent first, then the important tasks, and only then the tasks that can wait.
If you don’t have or don’t follow your priorities during the daily tasks and do only the things that you love first, then the urgent tasks still need to be done. Spending the day this way can mean that you will not have enough time to practice organ.
4. Practicing without a goal in mind. How many times do we sit on the organ bench and just go through the motions. We may play the piece once or repeat it several times but without being aware what we need to accomplish here.
Ask yourself these questions regularly. Was the posture, hand, and foot position correct? Did I play the notes in this episode correctly? Were the fingering and pedaling without mistakes? Did I play the rhythm correctly? Was the articulation precise?
If the answer to any of these questions was “No”, then go back and do it correctly a few times. If you are aware of these goals constantly while practicing, your performance level will improve dramatically over time.
5. Not having an experienced mentor. Having a mentor, a teacher or a coach is crucial to your advancement. Although there are manuals, textbooks, and tutorials from which you can learn many things about organ playing, having a person whom you can trust is even more important.
There is one specific issue that needs to be addressed here: a good mentor will hold you accountable for your actions. He or she will not listen to any excuses. The mentor will push a little further each time you say “I can’t”. This is because the mentor was in your shoes once, mastered something, and can share this skill with others.
6. Not listening to the mentor you trust. What happens if you have a good mentor but you don’t follow his or hers advice? Of course, your progress will be much slower. What happens if your mentor tells you to practice for two hours a day, and you only practice for 30 minutes every other day? What if your mentor asks you to memorize a page of music, and you only memorize one line?
Mentors are supposed to be strict. Only then real progress can be seen. But remember, only you are responsible whether or not you accomplish the task that your mentor asked to do. So trust your mentor and try not to make excuses.
7. Habit of not finishing tasks. Some people choose a piece of music, play it, practice it but never really master it. Long before they know the piece, they take another one. This approach will not get them very far. This can happen if the piece has places that organists cannot master easily. So they switch to another piece. I say this way people can eventually quit practicing the organ altogether.
We have to finish what we start unless the piece is really too difficult for us for the moment. If this is the case, ask your mentor for advice.
Realizing these common mistakes that organists often do and consciously avoiding them will help you to become a better organist. Be serious about your progress and you will reap great results.
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.