SOPP614: The organ world needs more videos like this - however experienced and skilled you are, practice is sometimes slow, difficult and/or frustrating.
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 614 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Ian, and he writes:
“The organ world needs more videos like this - however experienced and skilled you are, practice is sometimes slow, difficult and/or frustrating. It helps everyone if we're open about it. Thanks for sharing!”
V: Ausra, do you have a feeling of what he is writing about?
A: Yes, I guess that’s about my video where I tried to practice Alain’s Litanies.
V: Yes, this is the correct video. I will include the video in the description of this conversation so that people can see for themselves what happened. So was it normal for you to record such a video?
A: No, it really wasn’t.
A: Well, because I usually just record normal videos—make normal videos—live performance when it’s polished and nicely done.
V: Can you tell us what have you done in this video?
A: Well, it’s hard to describe. I think it’s better to watch it.
V: But you remember something, right?
A: Yes, I remember it. Yes.
V: You’re not in the trance.
A: Actually, at the end of it, I think I was.
V: Is it scary for you to watch a rerun of this video?
A: Yes, actually I watch this once, only, and I’m not going to do it again.
V: So, why do you think Ian is thanking you for sharing this video?
A: Well, because I think no one is perfect, basically, and this video, of course, shows it. I’m not claiming that I was perfect at any part of my playing, but I just mean that if you are a professional or non-professional, you still have sort of struggles on each level of your performance.
V: For people who haven’t watched this video and are wondering what is happening, Ausra practiced Litanies by Jehan Alain, and I think in the second page, there is this nasty line, three measures or so….
A: No, basically it’s less… there’s one measure that’s...
V: One measure, maybe two. Let’s say it’s two.
A: Well, no, that one is still okay.
V: Uh-huh! So one measure that she couldn’t get it right. Right? And what did you do to get it right?
A: Well, I practiced it over and over and over again, and I still could not get it, and in a slow tempo, it’s just fine, but when I want to speed it up and I still cannot do it that well. And, I started to hit the keyboard after I lost my temper.
V: Too bad the microphone was muted. People could not really hear what you were saying! At the time she was saying something.
A: Well, but I wasn’t cursing actually, so…
V: You might have been screaming, too.
A: Yes, I was screaming.
V: Screaming at the keyboard, or at the music, or at me or what?
A: At you all! All together.
V: Yeah. As embarrassing as it might seem to share this video with the world, actually, on YouTube, this video resonated with many people. The ratio of likes vs. views is unusually high—well over 10% I think. So, it means that a lot of people felt what you did, also!
A: Yes, I think it was the right decision to share a video like this. It doesn’t mean that in the future I will make more videos like this—it would be too embarrassing, but at least once to show what you have to struggle with, I think it’s good.
V: If Bach lived in a time where technology were available, would you give something…. What would you give to watch him fail at the keyboard, strive, struggle, fail at the keyboard, strive, struggle, get frustrated, curse, hit the keyboard, etc.?
A: I would give a lot! Maybe my all year salary!
V: All year salary! Hmm… too bad I cannot have a time machine. But for example, a person whom I very much respect improviser, Sietze De Vries, he posts very professionally done videos on his channel about his organ improvisations, either chorale improvisations or solemn improvisations, so I would give really many many things to see him practice just to get how he is achieving what he is achieving in the end result. You know?
A: Well, it wouldn’t be so interesting to watch him now practicing, but I would wish to see how he practiced ten or twenty years ago.
V: Yeah, maybe twenty. Year, I think, one is the famous improvisation contest in Harlem in 2002, so around that time, it would have been very interesting to see, although the requirements of the Harlem contest isn’t what he is doing now. They’re mostly contemporary improvisations, and he is focused on historically informed way of improvising on the organ. So, but yeah, it would be very very interesting to see how he got where he is today.
A: Yes, it would be really well worth looking.
V: What advice, Ausra, would you have for people who are frustrated at the organ and embarrassed that they cannot get one measure right?
A: Be patient! Of course, that’s the easy thing to say, but it’s a hard thing to do. And please don’t hit the keyboard! It’s not the right way. I’m ashamed of myself. So don’t hurt your instrument, and basically I hit it because it’s a virtual organ. If that would be my other tracker organ, I wouldn’t do that, because I know that if I will break this keyboard, I can order another one and replace that one.
V: Yeah, it costs only around 100€, so we keep extras!
A: Yes! So we have four of them, so we almost don’t use the fourth one, that’s just a fancy of Vidas! So we could easily put that fourth on the bottom and replace the broken one.
V: And still have four! The lowest broken one would go to the top!
V: I see. Yes, it would be… it’s hard to reach that top manual, right?
A: It is, and it’s hard to see music because it’s so far away.
V: Okay, so please guys, keep your patience up, practice slowly as Ausra did, but if you don’t get it right, don’t feel ashamed of yourself. You know that after a day or two, you will get it right eventually.
V: Ausra, have you already mastered this Litanies yet?
A: Well, yes, but let’s face it, I will never be playing it as fast as Marie Claire Alain, and already somebody commented in the Facebook on my other practice on Litanies, well… anyway… me is me, and she is she, so… Be yourself!
V: Good advice! So guys, 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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