Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 396 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Dianne. And she is our Total Organist student, and she answered my question of what she is struggling with this week. So, she writes:
This week I’m making stupid mistakes (and different ones every time). The difficult passages I practice go well, and I mess up on the simple parts. Focus, maybe? I am also getting over some virus thing, and I feel a bit foggy - brained. (More so than usual, anyway. Haha!)
V: Ausra, do you sometimes feel that you are making stupid mistakes in simple places?
A: Sure, and it means that I cannot focus, or that I focused too much on difficult passages and then I could not play any easy ones.
V: Do you think that Dianne might be doing this because of her virus?
A: Definitely. If she feels foggy, I think this is an indication that she should not be practicing.
V: She should wait it out.
A: Sure. It surprises me, actually, how little consideration people give to their health.
V: I played a recital once while sick.
A: I remember that. It wasn’t a smart thing to do.
V: It was draining my energy, and I just couldn’t cancel. You know?
A: Well, you could cancel. You always can cancel. It’s better than to play when you are sick and have a fever and then damage your health permanently, because you can injure your heart by doing that.
V: What do you mean?
A: Well, even kindergarten kids know that!
V: So I am stupider than kindergarten kids!
A: Sure! Nowadays the Internet is full of all kind of information about that.
V: What do you mean “sure!”
A: There is all kind of information out about what a virus can do to you if you will not treat yourself and take consideration.
V: So you don’t suggest Dianne practicing now.
A: Definitely not.
V: You know, by the time she hears this conversation, she might be already healed.
A: Sure! I hope!
V: Because we have a backlog of podcast conversations, and some files are waiting to be transcribed.
A: Well, sometimes I’m thinking that people in general think that they are heroes. That they are feeling bad, but they still do what they do on a regular basis. That’s like my students come to school while sick, and they feel almost like heroes, “Oh, I came to school although I have a fever.” Or sometimes I get things like, “I feel so bad, I have a fever, but I came just because of the Harmony...” or “...of the Solfège,” and I’m just thinking, “just go back home. Don’t spread your viruses and your bacteria here.”
V: Well, Ausra, to be fair, have you ever gone to school or to your work while sick?
A: Yes, but that was earlier, when I still had a good health. And now, after I ruined it, I know what it is!
V: You have life experience.
V: And nobody can take that away from you.
A: That’s right. But nobody listens to me.
V: I do!
A: I doubt it!
V: So… yeah...
A: But everybody has to decide for themselves. Like, last Friday for my senior students, I was sort of preaching that, “Oh, you need to watch for your hygiene, especially in Winter time when everybody sneezes or are sick all around. You need to wash your hands, or to cover your nose when you are sneezing,” and things like this. And then, I got a stomach flu during the weekend. So, I did everything in my power to go back to school on Monday, because if I would not, and my students would find out that I had the stomach flu, then they could tease me! “What about…” You know…. “Don’t you wash your hands?” So, I didn’t want to advertise something or preach, but I’m talking from my own experience.
V: I think it’s wise to always share your own experiences, because you never know what other people go through, and what is their experience. Even though Dianne wrote something, it’s just an excerpt of her life, right? We don’t know everything. But you know about yourself, and how you would behave and how you have behaved in the past. Right?
A: Well, because in general, I think if you want to do well on the organ that your practice would be productive, you need to have good health condition, because it takes a brain, and it takes a body, too.
V: So, we need to stay in shape, we need to be active, moving, and then eat healthy, probably, what else…. Sleep well…
A: Sleep well, yes.
V: Eight hours, probably…
A: Well, seven hours, at least.
V: Seven? I would prefer eight, but… but not everybody can sleep that long. And then, of course, heal their short term illnesses, like viruses.
A: Because if you’re feeling foggy and you’re still practicing, what good would such a practice do? You will not improve your organ performance quality with such a practice, and you might damage your health—ruin your health.
V: So, when you’re sick, Ausra, for example you, with your stomach flu, or bacteria infection that you had at the beginning of the year, is there anything that you can do besides lying in bed?
A: Listen to the radio. I don’t know, it depends on the person, but really, if you have a fever, you cannot practice, you cannot read, you cannot watch TV. Maybe you can listen to radio.
V: Listen to audio
A: Yes, listen to audio. Not with your headphones. I don’t think that would be good.
V: Listening to audio books is fine.
A: Yes. You could listen to organ recordings. That way, you would still be in touch with organ.
V: Organ world, yeah. Okay, lots of things to think about when you are sick, but I guess organ playing shouldn’t be the first on your mind when you are sick.
A: Sure, because next time when you will feel good, you will do double as much, and I think it will compensate for what you missed.
V: And, sometimes, when I say that, for example, I have to practice, practice, practice because my recital is coming up in a week or two, and now I’m sick and I don’t have time to be sick, I think it’s just poor planning.
A: Yes, and that’s why I’m always telling people that you need to be prepared ahead of time, that if something will happen, you would still feel fine. You would still feel calm, that you still have some time, and you will be okay. And you wouldn’t need to practice with a fever.
V: Yeah, be ready two months before, at least, to play your run-through of the recital or public performance. Then, you will have plenty of time to improve, and even if you get sick, you will be okay, I think. Right. And then, of course, improvisation helps. Imagine if your recital is coming up and you don’t have time to practice, but you constantly practice improvisation, you feel calmer, because you know that if you feel okay on the day of the performance, you can just sit down and play from your fancy. Right, Ausra?
A: But that’s if you are an improviser.
V: I mean, that could be the goal: to become an improviser. One of the benefits to become an improviser is that you have this freedom. Okay, thank you guys for sending those wonderful questions; we love helping you grow. We don’t always have the answers that might be suited for you personally, but we certainly can share our experience, and we hope this is helpful in some way. Okay, this was Vidas,
A: And Ausra,
V: 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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