Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 466 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Ariane, and she writes:
“I don’t know, I am a bit lost. I could not stay with my new organ teacher after all because I am just so busy at work. Ever since I moved to my current city I have found it almost impossible to practice regularly. Maybe I should just have a break or only play what I feel like playing and watch the world move around me. I also wonder whether it is worth working towards a music exam I will never need anyway.”
V: Ausra, have you been ever lost in your organ playing goals?
A: Well, yes! I think everybody experiences it sooner or later.
V: I can remember, I was a little bit lost when we first came back from the United States to Lithuania, I didn’t know what to do. I did know what to hope to achieve. And, I think maybe 6 months or so was just wandering around. But then, somehow, I found my purpose, which by the way, has changed, and has been changing from time to time, and it’s okay.
A: Because, you know, I think there are a few reasons why people practice organ. One thing, I think, if you are a professional and you make your living out of that, you must practice. That’s no matter what; you will practice. Another possibility is that you serve for church. Maybe you are not a main organist or not a music director at church, but you do some sort of service at church, and it doesn’t make your entire living, but it helps to make your living, so that way you have to practice, too. And another case is if you are just playing for fun—if it’s your hobby—you like organ, you like organ music, and you practice because you like it. So, basically, if you are none of these, then I don’t know what kind of motivation you would have to have in order to keep practicing.
V: You definitely need some sort of community support in order to stay with this habit for a long time. Right? Because, only very few people I know can stick with the habit and do it when nobody is looking, for no one’s benefit, just for the sake of practicing. Right? And then this practice is no longer an art, because art has to touch other people. And it’s just practice, which is not bad at all, but it’s very difficult to stick with it this way.
A: So I guess if you see no goal, you need to find a goal.
V: Yes, maybe your goal would be to find a goal—your short term goal would be to find something. To find a purpose why you practice. Ask yourself: If you skipped practice today and tomorrow, would you feel bad about it? Would you miss it? And if your answer is “no,” then maybe organ practice is not so necessary for you, for your well being. But if the answer is yes, if you do miss days when you sit down on the organ bench, then it means something for you, you just have to figure out what does it mean.
A: And I think it means a lot for Ariane, because she wouldn’t write such a letter.
V: Obviously, plus she is our Total Organist student. And we already have this BaseCamp community which support each other.
A: But anyway, since she moved to a new location, as I understood from this letter, I think that might cause this situation, too, because sometimes it’s hard to adapt to a new place. It takes time.
V: Exactly, and she had, probably, this organ teacher with whom she studied for a while, and now she cannot do it because she is busy at work, and all this means that she has to find inner motivation. Not external, but internal motivation. If you have a real physical teacher to whom you go every week, then it’s like a deadline for you to prepare something every week. Or, if you go to church and perform for services, the same thing. Or if you perform at recitals, public performances, the same thing. It’s external motivation. But she no longer has that.
V: So maybe she has to find it.
V: Not necessarily in the form of a teacher, but for example, participating in our Secrets of Organ Playing Contest. And people who participate, we have just a few people, a very small community there, they participate every week, and sometimes they alternate in judging other people’s work as guest judges. Those people really quadruple their motivation to practice, and also their results.
A: Yes, I think it’s a big benefit to participate in something.
V: We saw many videos of those participants over time—over tens of weeks. I don’t remember how many weeks we were doing this. But those who stick with it are definitely progressing very fast.
V: So maybe it’s for Ariane and others who are feeling a bit lost at the moment. Alright guys, this was our advice. Maybe think about your goals and reasons why you practice, and if you’re not feeling motivated, maybe give it a try. Give our suggestions a try, and let us know how it goes. And send us more of your questions, because 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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