SOPP468: I want to become a world-class organist, and I have difficulties in playing advanced musical pieces
Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 468 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Taiwo, and Taiwo writes:
I want to become a world-class organist, and I have difficulties in playing advanced musical pieces.
V: This is his answer to my question when people just sign up for our newsletter after this mini-course, after 10 days or so, they get this message from me, asking for answer to list their goals in organ playing, and also the challenges that they need to work on to achieve this goal. So, many people are more detailed than this one, right? Taiwo writes just two phrases: to become a world-class organist is his goal probably, and the challenge is that he has trouble playing difficult musical pieces, right? But we don’t know anything else about Taiwo.
A. So I guess, if he cannot play advanced musical pieces yet, it means that he is not ready to play them yet.
V: He needs to practice maybe intermediate musical pieces, or even basic musical pieces, or even maybe beginner musical pieces. Whatever the level of advancement is, it’s good enough for starters. So start wherever you are.
A: Because, you know, without step by step approach, if you just keep practicing very difficult pieces that are too difficult for you to play, you will not reach your goal. And the results won’t be satisfying.
V: Exactly. And we can compare this with many different areas in life. Not only in organ playing. Whatever you are trying to achieve, you have to do it step by step with the easiest step first. And it might seem and sound like too simple. You might not feel like a beginner, right – it might feel like a boring task at first. Even for several months it would seem like that. You want to jump through some leaps and go to the next level too soon. But if you do that, chances are you will not stick with this practice, whatever you’re practicing with. Because it’s too difficult. I, for example, started to practice doing dips. Do you know what dips are, Ausra?
V: Physical exercise which is contrary to pull-ups. When you pull up, you pull yourself up, but on the dip, you try to lower yourself down, and then push yourself up. It’s like doing push-ups, but not on the floor, but on the bars, or in my case, on the rings. I have now two sets of rings, and one is for pull-ups in our garden, which is hanging higher. And another is for dips which is lower. I have to reach comfortably. And, it’s extremely difficult to do those dips if you’re not ready. So the first step is simply to hold your body up straight while holding on those rings. And even that might be too difficult, so maybe you have to, or I have to lower those rings so that I would comfortably reach the bottom, the floor, for example, with my feet, and I have to support myself. Not the full body weight, but the partial weight. And maybe a few weeks later, I can move the rings higher, higher, higher, this way. You see what I mean?
A: Yes, so I guess what you are telling us, it’s the same with performance practice, that you have to go step by step.
A: And you cannot jump from beginner level right to advanced level.
A: That you need to fill out all the constant daily work. And, I guess it’s becoming harder and harder nowadays when people want to have immediate gratification right away, you know, when we live in this era of technologies.
V: Ausra, would you imagine, if you just started organ playing let’s say this summer, or this year, from the beginning of the year. Would you have the motivation to persevere and to stick with it for years?
A: Well, now it’s hard to tell. This is very hypothetical question. I don’t think I could answer it, you know.
V: I think you might. Because you are a patient person. You, in general, are…
A: You think so?
A: No, I am very impatient.
V: Look, you are reading books.
A: I’m very impatient.
V: You’re reading real books.
A: Because it gives me pleasure.
V: Ah! Pleasure is good. You have to derive some kind of pleasure out of every activity.
A: But organ practice also gives me pleasure.
V: Right. If organ practice didn’t give you pleasure, it would be much more difficult to persevere, right? You are a professional. Then, you might have a goal, or a deadline, external motivation to practice. But if it would not be a pleasurable activity for you, then I wouldn’t think organ playing would make you happy.
A: Yes, but in order to get pleasure, you need to select right repertoire. Because if you will always select pieces that are too easy for you, you will get bored, and if you always play pieces that are too hard for you yet, well, you get tired, too. So basically, you need to select your organ repertoire that it wouldn’t be too easy, but it wouldn’t be too hard.
V: And you can do that by experimenting with a wide range of repertoire, right? If you don’t know your level yet, you take a piece which is maybe too difficult, and work downwards, until you find your level.
V: Excellent. We hope this was useful, guys. Please apply our tips in your practice, because they really work. We’ve been hearing this feedback from people who apply such techniques in their practice. And keep sending us 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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