SOPP385: I constructed a mini-keyboard with two buttons, mounted under the manual, next to the thumb pistons and connected to the USB port of the laptop
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 385 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Damian and he writes:
” Thanks for today's podcast, I have to admit that everything you talk about works in my case.
As far as memory is concerned, usually, I know the words of the first few verses of hymn, and thanks to that I have a little easier in most hymns.
Your comments about the divisibility of attention and "disturbances" from other people are very accurate, exactly how I feel.
I will try to switch tenor with alto and "free" my left hand sometimes ;)
I think we have to try to make it easier to do many things at once. I've made it easier for myself to switch verses on the display. In my church the screen is operated by a laptop, and the verses are switched with the mouse. Right button forward, left back, you can also use the arrows on the laptop keyboard, but it is very uncomfortable. You also have to reach the mouse quite far, and doing it quickly you can confuse the left button with the right, etc. So I constructed a mini-keyboard with two buttons, mounted under the manual, next to the thumb pistons and connected to the USB port of the laptop. Thanks to this, I can switch the verses with my thumb without taking my hands off the keyboard, left or even right hand if it's more comfortable. It definitely made my life easier.
V: Don’t you think Ausra that Damian should patent it and make it available for sale.
A: Yes, I think that’s a very good idea.
V: Similar tools might be already on the market but there is still room for this tool too I think.
A: Sure. Don’t you think it’s so impressive that there are no technologists like this who could have thought about it thirty years ago let’s say.
V: Umm-hmm. Thirty years ago probably churches didn’t even have those screens with text.
A: Well, we don’t have them in Lithuania yet. It’s not common.
V: Right. This is advancement. People are already living in the future and sometimes the future is not as friendly as it seems. For example, a few days ago I was playing a funeral mass for one famous business man who was also a supporter for the arts in Lithuania and at the end of the mass there came a pianist who was preparing to play an accompaniment on our organ tomorrow when the real funeral would take place and I showed her the organ and how to use it a little bit. She isn’t an organist so she needed to write down the stop names, what to choose, and actually curiously she didn’t write down numbers of the stops but exact precise names. That was impressive to me to see. She wrote “Principal 8”, “Salicional 8”, you know like that.
A: Not like most of the organists do in Lithuania. They just write numbers and then you don’t know what stops you are actually using.
V: So this lady told me that I think in the summer she visited Austria and in Vienna they have this famous St. Stephens cathedral and she went inside and it was a Sunday mass and guess what she heard. She heard not organ music but recorded organ music from recording.
A: Well things like this happen in the Stephansdom as it’s called. You know I always thought that Austria is sort of a heart for classic music.
V: Exactly. We know that orchestral masses by Haydn and Mozart are performed regularly there, at least on Sundays, but it was sort of disturbing to know that situation with recordings could be done in public.
A: Well I have known things like this have happened in Lithuania but maybe not during mass but during for example wedding ceremonies and many years ago I heard about one of our acquaintances went to perform I think to small town called Kretinga and that’s what she saw when she went upstairs to the organ balcony and there was the wedding ceremony and the local organist was not playing but when she had to play she would just push the button and the recording would play.
V: Umm-hmm. People make their lives easier this way.
A: I think it’s ridiculous.
V: It is, absolutely.
A: Although you know in some cases for example when we were back studying in Michigan and I was playing in Christian Scientist Church in Ypsilanti which after that bankrupted. But we would have two services, one on Sunday which I was playing and one I think on Thursday nights, evening service, and they wouldn’t hire organist to accompany for that service so they just bought CDs with all Christian Scientist hymnal recorded and they would play hymn recordings.
V: Because they couldn’t afford to hire you on every occasion they needed it.
A: Sure. Because the congregation was so small I don’t know if they would get 20 people on Sundays.
A: And then they were already bankrupted and they were selling the church and I think they waited another month or two until I graduated and I think that was extremely nice that they did it for me.
V: And only after that they went bankrupt.
A: Sure and shut the church down. It was really nice.
V: Do you know what became of the organ?
A: I’m not sure but it was quite a nice electromechanical organ. It had some really nice string stops but it was funny because the console was put in a tiny room but pipes were upstairs and were covered so you could actually not see them at all.
V: It was hidden.
V: Umm-hmm. I guess Damian’s idea about technology inspired us to talk about what technology dark side is sometimes. What kind of replacement to the real organ music can be when they have not enough funds. I have a suggestion but you were almost making a comment, right?
A: Yes, I just wanted to comment that now some of world famous orchestras will not buy new scores but will just play from a tablet so I don’t know if it is good or not but that’s the thing that now a new tendency to do it. It saves trees, of course.
V: Umm-hmm. But it eats up electricity.
A: Sure and they think it is not so good for your eyes, your vision.
V: You know there is this digital ink which is OK for your eyes. It doesn’t have this constant refreshment of data on your screen therefore your eyes won’t be tired too much. There is not glare like on the phones or on the laptops. I’m talking about Kindle for example. But tablets sometimes have this defensive shield against glare too which is good for your eyes. I guess technology can solve many problems too. So I had just one final advice for churches that don’t have budget enough to hire good organist to play hymns or organ music. I have suggestion for them to choose a volunteer from their own part and this volunteer might teach himself or herself how to play the organ and play for them at minimum a few hymns, maybe not all 4 parts for starters but maybe the soprano and the bass just like we are teaching beginners who are starting to play in churches and maybe better music will attract more people to the church and they will be able to afford later to pay. What do you think about that Ausra?
A: Yes, I think that’s a good idea.
V: It’s at least doing something other than pushing the button and playing the recording.
A: That’s right.
V: Trying to improve the situation. OK guys, thanks for listening, we hope this was useful to you and please keep sending your wonderful questions. 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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