SOPP374: I am only in my first week, but what I like already is the fact that I have some sort of schedule which I can work along
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas
Ausra: And Ausra
Vidas: Let’s start episode 374 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Ariane, and she writes:
I am only in my first week, but what I like already is the fact that I have some sort of schedule which I can work along. Practicing seems more focused and also, I feel part of something. I certainly haven't regretted joining! Thank you.
V: Ausra, why do you think Ariane feels that way about having Total Organist subscription?
A: I think it’s very important to feel a part of something—of a group, or people having the same goal.
V: Not to be alone.
A: True. I think it gives greater motivation to anybody.
V: Do you think our Basecamp communication channel has something to do with it?
A: Of course, yes!
V: And people get asked those questions at the end of the day. “What have you been working on today?” And they can respond, and moreover, they can read others’ answers—answers by other students from the same group—which is very motivating and empowering. To me, it’s really like a forming of a small community within the Secrets of Organ Playing larger community that we get questions from, several thousands of people. But here, this unique group of individuals who are rather tightly connected because they are taking the same courses, practicing the same pieces in many instances, and largely having the same goals, too.
A: Do you think it is possible for a person to achieve his or her goal without being in a group, without any support?
V: Certainly, I believe it’s possible, but it will probably take ten times as much energy to do this, and motivation, which has to come from within a person. When nobody is helping you grow, nobody is taking you by the hand, then you have to find this inner strength. Right, Ausra?
V: Would you, Ausra, play the organ if nobody else were applauding you after the concert? You might actually play the organ, but at the beginning, when you just started 25 years ago or so, would you do it?
A: Well, I don’t know, but nobody was applauding my playing at first.
V: Well, of course, it’s Lithuania, and people are not so supportive. What was your beginnings? A feeling?
A: Well, it was hard. It was a hard job. Hard, heavy work.
V: Without recognition and support.
V: How did your teacher support you?
A: Well, not very well, actually.
V: The situation with professors and teachers in general in Europe is different from, let’s say, America, right?
V: They tend to motivate you with a stick, rather than with a carrot.
A: Would a Carrot motivate you to practice more? Or do you mean candy!
V: Carrot! Carrots are… well, if I am a bunny.
A: Well, are you our bunny?
V: That’s the question!
A: But yes, I think this European system is very demotivating for myself, because I’m not that kind of person that if somebody will beat me that I will do things better. Rather, the opposite. I won’t do anything then. But if somebody will give me a candy or say a nice word, then I do ten times more.
V: So, the fact that you are still practicing after 25 or more years means that somebody is giving you candy.
V: Literal or not literal candy. What kind of rewards are you getting today from playing the organ?
A: Well, it’s a very complex question. Certainly I’m not doing it because of getting a candy from somebody. I’m doing it for myself, basically. Organ in itself is good enough motivation for me, now.
V: And obviously, that’s the kind of question that professionals would answer like you. They don’t need external motivation for the most part, but obviously, applause and a feeling of exhilaration after a recital gives you another boost of willingness to practice even more. To plan ahead for your next recital and next recital—to choose the music and sit down on the organ bench. Right?
A: Yes, I think that’s how a reward works.
V: What about me?
A: What about you?
V: Yes! Ask me!
A: So, how do you feel about it?
V: Well, when I first started playing the organ, it was kind of interesting. My former...the first teacher that I had in Klaipėda, called me on the phone and asked me if I wanted to start playing the organ, taking lessons with her at school, with hopes of applying to the Lithuanian Academy of Music in a few years. And, even with the prospect of studying with the famous professor, Leopoldas Digrys! And of course, Digrys’ name was very well known to me—I mean… even to me! Because I was little, but still my mom used to go to his recitals in Vilnius when she was studying art, when she was a student at the institute of fine arts. So, of course, she was very happy that I chose organ lessons. And then, of course, the reality was a little bit different when I started studying with Digrys. He was very strict and his students were afraid of him, actually. Today, I’m continuing to practice like you, probably, because organ in itself is a wonderful instrument, and gives me pleasure and joy. It’s like self expression; if I’m not playing something everyday, I don’t feel well. I have to play at least something, create something on the organ, at least improvise. Then I know that my day isn’t wasted.
V: Right. So, for Ariane, who is just joining our Total Organist community, it’s obviously important to get this feedback and motivation from the group, and from us, and feel like she belongs to a higher cause. Not like she’s practicing for herself, but she sort of has this passion, and actually a purpose. Without a purpose, it’s a very temporary hobby.
A: Yes, I think you always need to see a purpose and to have your goal.
V: Because when you don’t have a purpose, and it’s just a passion of yours, then the passion will probably fade as soon as you get the first roadblock.
A: Yes, that’s how many people will not finish up what they have started.
V: Right. Thank you guys, we hope this was useful to you. Please think about your purpose when you are playing the organ—the “why.” Why are you playing the organ? And this “why” will help you continue through the hard times. Keep sending your wonderful questions to us. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen!
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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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