Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra
V: Let’s start episode 482, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Susan. she writes:
Hello Dr. V.
I have subscribed to the Pedal Virtuoso Master Course. I am 76 years old, started playing organ after retiring from a non-musical career at age 70. I have taken organ lessons for 5 winter seasons in Florida (I am a snow-bird). I have fibromyalgia and found after week 1 of pedal exercises that my legs were very sore and tired; can deal with the soreness, but fatigue make them want to give out. Week 2 I could only practice every other day. Week 3 I did not start, because I had to continue to practice and be able to play for weekly church service, plus this past week was practicing for a funeral service. So now I am a week behind. Do you think I should continue this course? Also, regarding the lessons—are the arpeggios supposed to be all legato? I wear size 10 1/2 shoe but still find it difficult to reach g to c. Thank you for your consideration of my problems.
V: Let me first congratulate Susan for choosing to practice this strenuous course, right?
A: Yes. It’s really a challenging course.
V: Not too many start, and even less people finish what they start. But those who do finish, reap great benefits. So she is basically feeling strenuous in her, stress in her legs and they’re very sore from practicing pedal arpeggios and scales. Is this normal, Ausra, or is she doing something that could be avoided?
A: Well since she has a health condition, specific health condition, yes, I think she maybe need[s] to consult a physician before proceeding with this course. I don’t know if it’s okay for her to practice.
A: Because really those arpeggios to play legato are really hard. Although she has a big foot but, long foot, but it still probably might be not [a] wise thing to do.
V: Do you think she needs to play everything legato?
A: Well, it’s hard for me to say about an exercise but if for example it would be a piece let’s say written by some great French master…
A: Dupre or Vierne, then yes, you would have to play it legato, of course. But what I do…
A: myself in places like this, if I have let’s say to play legato, G to C, with right foot, yes? I quickly, right before finishing that G note, I would place my left foot on that…
A: Substitute, yes.
A: And that’s how I would do it.
V: For some people maybe, it maybe wise to adjust a little bit some pedaling...
V: To their condition. And, but I don’t think she has to put so much stress on playing it so perfectly, you know. These are just exercises, not French masterpieces. And the point of this course is just to improve your pedal technique, right? And probably improve your ankle flexibility as well. So whatever you do, don’t overextend yourself. Don’t feel that you have to play everything one-hundred percent perfect. This is one point. And another point—take frequent breaks and rest. Maybe walk and do some other things which involve a different set of muscles. This is how I practice; if I rest before I’m tired, I’m never tired. I’m never tired. And I can practice for much longer this way, without any danger of damaging my body.
A: Well, I used to love to practice for [a] few hours in a row when I was working on my Doctorate, for example, and was preparing for Doctoral recitals. Let’s say I would practice organ for four hours straight without ever going down from the organ bench…
A: and resting. And it was okay for me. It worked at that time.
V: For a while.
A: For a while. But now at the age of almost forty-three, I can’t not do it anymore.
A: Yes, I cannot do it anymore. So now I have to practice less and take longer breaks. So, you always need to consider your health condition. Probably not so much your age because sometimes being seventy-six you can be much healthier than being forty-three—just like I am. So, every person is really different. But I would say probably, half an hour shouldn’t be too long practice for probably anybody. Or maybe twenty minutes.
V: Twenty minutes, fifteen minutes, if you need to take a break and then come back, yes? Yeah. Taking breaks is not a sin, right? Don’t feel bad if you need to rest. Okay guys, this was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your 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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