SOPP497: I am just playing around now and try not to shed any tears about what might have been
Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 497 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Ariane. And she’s our Total Organist student. And on Basecamp communication channel, she writes a few thoughts about her situation. So I’m going just to read some of her thoughts to you:
Dear Vidas, Thank you so much for your kind words. Maybe it’s just a sign to play on the level I have reached and not to aim for something that is beyond my ability. I am just playing around now and try not to shed any tears about what might have been. I am glad to be part of Total Organist, though.
And she is mentioning probably behind the lines that, between the lines, that she doesn’t have enough time to practice now because of the time constraints that her current job demands of her. So I wrote to her: Thanks, Ariane. You will still need short term and long term goals in organ playing. Otherwise, your motivation to practice may diminish if you just play around. One thing that I cannot recommend highly enough is to participate in our weekly Secrets of Organ Playing contests. James Flores, who recently joined our Total Organist community, can testify that it has worked miracles for him.
So then, James jumped in and said, Yes, I can recommend participating in the contest. It’s for all abilities. The idea is about sharing and growing your portfolio of recordings, not necessarily about winning. That’s a bonus! You will see my entry on the message board for this week. P.S. I don’t always record long pieces. This week was an exception.
And Ariane replied, Thank you, James. I will certainly think about it. What keeps me from entering the contest is that I have so much stress at work already. And the music contest would just add more. But maybe one day. I like your recordings, though.
I wrote: I have a feeling that having a hobby like organ playing for contest would actually reduce stress from your work, because this will be something you can look forward to. It’s like for Ausra. She has a pretty hectic schedule at work with lots of stressful situations when dealing with students, parents, and colleagues. However, drawing her own Pinky and Spiky comics for Art Storm contest on Steem is a tremendous creative outlet for her, and actually therapeutic.
And Ariane said, I will think about it. Promise.
And then I asked Ausra, Am I correct?
And then Ariane asked, What chance will I have against you two? meaning James, probably, and Ausra and me.
And James wrote, Ariane, for me, it’s not about winning. I really couldn’t care less. I just love the process of having a record of what I’ve done. I was through these contests that I repurposed some of my recordings to make a CD. You can see it here. And he gives a link to his Silver Celebration CD. I’m not always playing big Bach works, in fact, I think I’ve only played two of them for the contest. I will share the history of my entries, and they are quite varied. I started off playing the Eight Short Preludes and Fugues.
Ausra jumped in: Yes, most of the time it’s a habit now. So, Ausra, you sort of, were the last person to comment. Can you go deeper into this detail?
A: Well, yes, if you know you will make something for let’s say a few weeks in a row, it will become a habit. And then when you cannot do it, you will miss it, and you go back and start doing it again.
V: Is that how you feel about your comics?
A: Yes, it is.
V: You’ve missed them?
V: Sometimes, you were, you don’t have time or energy.
A: Sure, sure.
V: And you missed the next day?
A: It was right. But I would like to explore maybe a little bit more that thought that when you take part in some sort of competition, like I’m taking part in the drawing competition. But I would like to talk more about organ competition.
V: Mm hm.
A: That really, you will improve much faster while preparing for it, and that winning is not as important, truly.
V: As participating.
A: That’s right. Because if you will think only about, “Oh, I wish to win,” then you will put a lot of pressure on yourself and it won’t work.
V: Because it doesn’t basically depend on your skills entirely. On your level of recording. Sometimes you can play very badly, but you can win. Depending on who participates.
A: Yes, plus another thing is that playing big pieces and hard pieces of music will not make you a winner all the time. And I don’t know, maybe James was very disappointed, I’m not sure about it, when he played this big prelude, E flat major, by J.S. Bach, and we didn’t give him a prize for it.
V: Mm hm.
A: I think that might be a little disappointing. But the thing is that, sometimes it’s better to play a piece which is 8 measures long but to play it really well.
V: We simply had more entrants which were better performed…
A: Yes, at that time. True.
V: Yes. It doesn’t mean that he played badly.
A: But I believe that he might enter with the same piece in maybe a few weeks and he will win.
A: Because by that time it will be finished.
A: So, I think it’s, quality is the most important thing.
V: Maybe he will enter with the fugue, too.
A: I hope so. I love that fugue.
V: But it takes even more time than the prelude, I think. Or not.
A: Well, I found that prelude is harder for me to play, like the whole, the unity piece, than the fugue. But yes. The first fugue has hard spots for me, couple of hard spots. Then the middle fugue is sort of fun to play - it’s only for manuals. And I love the third fugue which combines the first and second and then the whole piece.
V: I think James will not have any trouble with the second fugue, because it’s for manuals only, and he has a great manual technique.
A: Well, but you know, the trouble with this fugue is not so much, like how to play from the technical point of view, but, for example, how to make, to pick up the right tempo. And do you need to keep the same tempo throughout the piece, or to change it with each fugue. So there are lots of things to think about.
V: And you won’t reveal your preferences?
A: No, I won’t.
V: (Laughs) Let them find out for themselves! Excellent! So, closing ideas for Ariane. Obviously, I think people who are in her shoes, it’s a Catch 22 situation. You have a lot of stress, and you feel exhausted after work coming home, and you don’t have enough energy to do anything else which might be a hobby for you, right? But, if you did that hobby for yourself, let’s say you recorded organ piece, then you would receive energy boost just from doing it. So, as I say always, the most important, the most hardest thing in organ playing is to sit down on the organ bench. Not to play it, but just to sit down. And Ariane knows this. And probably participating in something external like Secrets of Organ Playing Contest, would solve all those motivational problems, because you would have external deadline, like we have with our organ duet recital in 10 days.
A: True. And now, guys, you see with whom I live, how pushy and insisting he is.
V: Is that a bad thing?
A: Well.. (laughs) no, I think it’s a good thing.
V: For some people I have to be pushy, because they will not push themselves.
A: Like, who made you…
A: Master, yes.
V: I picked myself, that’s my motto. Pick yourself, guys! Always. Because if you wait, nobody will give you that chance.
A: Yes, I think you are right. Because if you will live all your life and not do things that you might have done, you might have regret after, at the end of it.
V: Life is short.
A: So it’s better to do more than less.
V: And, but then there comes a point in life where you feel, maybe I’m doing too much, right? You have to also find some balance. Sometimes you have to relax; sometimes you have to do a little more. It’s different from person to person, I think, right? Not everyone is like me.
V: I wouldn’t count on Ariane, for example, to record three videos per day, like I did yesterday. You know?
V: All right, guys. This was Vidas,
A: And Ausra.
V: Please keep sending us your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice and share in the right places…
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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