SOPP453: Is it possible to follow these steps and master any organ composition a week before performance?
Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 453 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Abraham, and he writes:
Good to hear from you Mr Vidas. Is it possible to follow these steps and master any organ composition a week before performance?
I just have to clarify this question probably. Abraham wrote an answer to my email when I sent him the video of How to Master Any Organ Composition. After the first day when subscribers come to our community, they get this video and start learning this 10 day mini-course on learning to play any organ composition. So, he probably watched this video, I suspect, and has this question: Is it possible to follow these steps (that I taught probably in this video), and master any organ composition a week before performance? Do you think, Ausra, he means that his performance might be a week from now, and he has just started playing the piece, or learning the piece now?
A: Well, I’m not quite sure. What about you? What do you think?
V: It’s not clear to me. But if it is, then obviously, it depends upon the skill of your ability.
A: And it depends on the piece, too.
V: Yes, how difficult it is. How advanced are you in organ playing? How good are you in sight reading, those things. And improvisation probably too, I suspect. And harmony. It all comes together in the final performance. So, in most cases, I would say no, right Ausra?
A: Probably yes.
V: In most cases, it’s too little time.
A: It’s too risky.
V: Yes. Remember we always advise people to…
A: To be ready, you know, a month ahead of time.
V: Now I’m saying two months ahead. Just to keep people from stress, you know?
A: But anyway, I think you still get some stress during actual performance. Even if you will get it, I don’t know, three months ahead. But if you will do everything that’s possible that’s in your power, then at least you be, you know, won’t feel guilty if something went wrong.
V: Mm hm. And if your performance is a week from today and you are just starting, then it’s probably something wrong with the planning process of the preparation. I mean, you have to prepare well in advance and plan well in advance.
A: Yes. I remember our classmate in the Academy of Music, he took the last piece of Max Reger. I don’t remember now exactly which one it was.
V: Sonata, I think.
A: I think it was…
V: One of the two sonatas.
A: Yes, one of the two sonatas. And I think he counted pages, and it was what, like 30 pages long?
V: Thirty pages, yeah.
A: And he, OH, I have a month before the performance, so I’ll just have to learn one page per day, and I’ll be ready! Guess what – he never learned that piece and never performed it.
V: He learned maybe five pages or so.
A: I know, I know. And he saw that it’s a hopeless business.
V: And now he is no longer playing organ, by the way.
A: Yeah, but he is building them, so.
V: Mm hm.
A: That’s good, too.
V: So you know, I would say that, imagine if somebody asks you to play a week from today something, then you have to play pieces that you already know well in advance. Maybe you can repeat from your last performance, right, Ausra?
V: A week from today, it’s possible to refresh something that you learned, let’s say a month ago or two months ago. I think it is possible.
V: If you learn it in a systematic way. But what happens if somebody asks you to perform a week from today and you don’t have anything ready?
A: Well then, you have either to improvise or…
V: To say no.
A: Yes, to say no.
V: Yeah, improvising sometimes it’s easier than playing from the score, but not...
A: Not necessarily.
V: Not for every person.
A: If you have never done it before, then just, you know…
V: Yes. Just next time, gather your repertoire ahead of time and you will be more secure, I think, when the time comes.
A: I think it’s important for organists to keep, sort of like a master repertoire, of what has to be on your list, some music that fits wedding, some music that fits funeral, some music that fits service, and probably like, what, 10-15 of the most common hymns?
V: Good idea, Ausra. This is what they would require for Service Playing Certificate at AGO. And this is, I think, well thought of situation, and the most common things that organists have to play.
A: Sure. And then, you know, do what you have to do to refresh these pieces, to keep them alive, let’s say.
V: Once in awhile.
V: Maybe this much of repertoire and hymns would probably take half an hour to play, I would say, once. But if you do this just like once a month, after learning them thoroughly and mastering, I think you would be prepared to play on a short notice.
A: That’s right.
V: Okay guys. Thank you for your wonderful questions. We love helping you grow. 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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