Vidas: Hello and welcome to Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast!
Ausra: This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better organist.
V: We’re your hosts Vidas Pinkevicius...
A: ...and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene.
V: We have over 25 years of experience of playing the organ
A: ...and we’ve been teaching thousands of organists online from 89 countries since 2011.
V: So now let’s jump in and get started with the podcast for today.
A: We hope you’ll enjoy it!
V: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 609 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Robert, and he writes,
Thank you so much for the video of you working on Vierne Final, sym 1. Within just the first 3 minutes I learned so much about how to practice properly, the key word here is properly. I, of course, practice (and I'm a slow learner but I get there) usually sections at a time and slowly but watching you slowly and what appears to me slight hesitation at certain points to read ahead. I may be misinterpreting what you're doing but it makes sense and allows for a much smoother transition from section to section until the full work is learned and brought up to speed.
I've listened to more than 3 minutes but not the complete video which I will do now. I can't wait to see what's ahead that I will learn. You are such a good human being and make the world a better place. Thank you.
Warm regards to you both,
A: What a nice letter to write. Thank you very much, Robert!
V: Of course, Robert refers to my recent video where I show my own practice method, how to master Vierne’s Final from the First Symphony in 11 steps. What do you think about my method, Ausra?
A: Well, I think it’s working obviously, because we see the results of your playing. But I don’t have so much patience as you do.
V: Oh, that’s strange. Because I always knew that I’m the impatient one.
A: Not in practicing the organ, obviously.
V: My mind is scattered all over the place, and I jump from one hobby to the next, faster than you can think of. But you are such a steadfast and very stable. Do you think you can’t spend like 30 minutes with one step or two?
A: Well it surely would be very hard.
V: Why? Can you share with us your hesitation?
A: Well, I’m not sure that I could play throughout the piece and stop, let’s say what you do, every other quarter note, or whatever.
V: It’s systematic, right? First I stop at every quarter note, then at every half note. Then every measure, two measures, four measures, one line, two lines, one page, two pages, four pages, eight pages, and so on. If the work is longer than 8 pages, then basically you need 11 steps.
A: Well, but you see, have you ever tried this method on a completely new piece to you?
V: Definitely. I learned Mendelssohn’s Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C Minor this way.
A: Because definitely this piece by Louis Vierne, this Final, is not a new piece for you. You are sort of repeating it.
V: Yes. You can trace it back in my YouTube channel. It’s one of the first pieces I put there. From back in 2006, I think. I brought the recording from University of Nebraska, Lincoln. It was one of my doctoral recitals, right?
A: Yes, I think so.
V: And I’m refreshing this symphony right now, working on every movement, and I think I haven’t done the tutorial on how to master the third movement yet - what it’s called - Cantabile, or something - or Siciliana maybe. But it’s in 6/8 meter. It’s a very nice, not very slow movement, but sort of moderate slow in tempo. And I also intend to do this in 10 steps, too.
A: But don’t you think that this method of learning might influence some people to not being able to play correctly in the right rhythm after practicing like this?
V: I see your point. At first, I stop at every quarter note.
V: Or, if the beat is let’s say eighth note, then I stop at every eighth note - even smaller segment. And then you think that people will have a hard time to practicing in the right rhythms, right?
A: Yes, that’s what I’m thinking. That’s why I like to practice slowly, but in a smooth sort of tempo.
V: That’s one way of looking at it, of course. But remember the second step is already largely in the first one. And stopping at half note values makes the quarter notes already at the right way, right?
A: But it takes so much time.
V: And we don’t have much time?
V: Doing what? (laughs)
A: Doing everything as well.
V: Such as?
A: Well, I’m not, I won’t start naming them all, because I do a lot in life.
V: And I don’t, of course, because I just play and think all day long.
A: Like Mary, yes? Or like Georgiana from Pride and Prejudice.
V: Yes, that was a great movie. I see your point, actually. And that’s where we are different, right? In this way, I am very methodical, but I’m not always practicing in this way. Only in certain pieces when I’m having difficulty. Or when my due date is approaching, deadline is approaching, and I know I don’t have a lot of time, and my method is faster than playing without a system, right? So it actually shortens the process if I do this methodically. But I can also understand why it’s hard for people to focus and stay focused for let’s say two weeks with this method and one piece. It takes about that. Because one step, it requires at least three correct repetitions in a row - each step. So it’s a little bit unrealistic to do one step every day. You know, step every day. I think you have to spend maybe three days per one step, don’t you think?
A: Yes. But usually, I’m really happy if I can play all my pieces that I’m working right now one time in a slow tempo each day. It’s already an accomplishment for me.
V: Twice would be better than once.
V: Now this how you, you’re practicing for example now, Franck’s A Minor Chorale, and Litanies by Jean Alain. And whenever you don’t have time to do it twice, then you feel a little bit, how would you say, unsatisfied.
A: Yes, because then the next day, it’s almost like repeating the same practice as I had yesterday. Sort of like, you look with new eyes at this same piece.
V: Yes. If you play it twice every day, then all things being equal, it will take twice as little of time.
A: Yes, but if you have to practice solo pieces and church pieces at the same time, then sometimes you just simply don’t have time or energy left to play such a big piece as let’s say Franck’s Chorale twice.
V: Joseph Kraus said, “That’s life in a big city.”
A: True, but it also hurts hands.
V: Can you tell us who Joseph Kraus is?
A: Yes. He was our theory professor at UNL when we were working on our doctoral program, and actually, we both worked as Vidas and I were both his T.A.
V: Teaching Assistants.
A: Yes, Teaching Assistants in the theory field, so. And this was a man with a sad face, which he draw at one of his assignment lists which was very hard, so this man was wearing that and the picture said, “That’s life in a big city.”
V: Yeah, if you are not rushing, if you’re not doing things more than you think you’re capable of doing, then probably you’re not living in a big city, right?
V: Where life is much slower.
A: And actually during the quarantine, we haven’t lived in the big city because we didn’t have to go to the city every morning and return home every evening. So we saved a lot of time, and we could practice more.
V: Do you feel refreshed because of that?
A: Well, yes and no, because today I was catching myself thinking how nice it would be to go to school back in September 1st, and it never happened to me before.
V: You want to go to school?
A: Yes, I want to go to school!
V: Basically to work.
V: And not to stay here and do online teaching.
V: That’s interesting. Hopefully, your wish will be granted in September.
A: Well, looking at the new numbers of corona situation right now, I doubt it. Maybe at the beginning of September, maybe October, but then, who knows? We might be staying at home.
V: And also, who knows what our government will decide, if they will announce the quarantine or not. Because if they announce the quarantine, that will hurt the economy, and we don’t want to do that too much.
A: Sure, it’s really scary. So I just hope the vaccine will be developed pretty soon, and all the intelligent people might get it.
V: With intelligent people, you mean people who believe in vaccines?
V: I see.
A: Who believe in progress.
V: And science.
V: And reason.
V: And that the earth is not flat.
A: Do you think there are still people who believe that, that the earth is flat?
V: Just Google "Earth is flat" and you'll see.
A: And that the stork brought you?
V: Just Google, “Earth is flat,” and you will be surprised. Um, I think there is a movement, growing movement of people, who believe that earth is flat, people never went to the moon, and so on.
A: I remember that old movie about one African guy, very nice guy who, I don’t remember what was the name of his tribe, but he found a bottle from Coca Cola…
A: And he was travelling to find the edge of the earth to throw that bottle down, and actually found it.
V: Like a cliff.
A: Yes. And he was very happy.
V: Oh yeah. It’s, it was one of the bush people.
A: I think so.
V: In Kalahari.
V: Great. So guys, we hope this conversation was useful to you. Please keep sending us 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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