SOPP621: My sight reading of notes and rhythms both improved significantly from 9 months ago
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 621 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by William, and he writes,
Thank you for putting together this course. My sight reading of notes and rhythms both improved significantly from 9 months ago. It also improved my sight reading of dense passages of music. The areas that gave me a little trouble (that I need to continue working on) are the counting of 32nd notes and irregular rhythms (triplets against 2 eighth notes / 4 sixteenth notes / dotted eighth note and a sixteenth note). Regards, Bill
V: So William talks about my Organ Sight Reading Master Course, which is quite popular among Total Organist Community, and I’m very happy that people are enjoying the progress that they are making over the course of this training program. It takes basically 40 weeks, 47 weeks with bonus materials, so that’s almost a full year, right, Ausra?
A: Yes, it takes awhile.
V: For a long time, for many weeks, people start sight reading one single melodic line. And a lot of people quit after even noticing improvement, even before starting two part exercises. Because it takes such a long time to go through entire Art of Fugue voice by voice. Ausra, do you have such patience?
A: Well, I would have patience if I would have enough time.
V: And you mean that you couldn’t practice for many weeks one single voice?
A: Yes. Definitely not. And I don’t need it, because I have quite a good skills of sight reading music.
V: Hm, makes me think, maybe I should devise special course for you, just for you, where I would test your sight reading skills and give you more challenges.
A: You know I have enough challenges in my life on a daily basis.
V: And you could devise a course for me, as well. Would you like that?
A: Not really.
V: Why not? You could be my teacher.
A: Well, I teach for 25 hours a week. So I guess I have enough teaching already without teaching you.
V: Could I sit in your classes instead?
A: No, because now it’s pandemic.
V: Maybe under the table then!
A: Well, you could sneak in, or at least try to sneak in.
V: I could sit under the table like your pet. I would be quiet, promise.
A: But then I would have to put you on a leash.
V: Yeah. On a leash, or a choke collar?
A: Well, it would depend on your behavior.
V: (laughs) If I would be polite, maybe leash would be enough.
A: Yes, I guess so.
V: So, William is enjoying the course, sight reading every week, seven days a week I think, those exercises run. Would you, Ausra, imagine yourself sight reading every day of the week, if you had time?
A: Well yes, because I think this is a crucial skill to have for any musician.
V: Yeah, I think for people who don’t have enough time to sight read, they are simply sacrificing their goals and dreams, putting aside their future in favor of their present tasks, or maybe urgent assignments. But I think it’s important to work towards your future, make the future possible, right? Because at the end of the day, you have fulfilled maybe your tasks, but haven’t advanced towards your goals.
A: True, and often people wonder why they cannot learn music very fast, or as fast as they would wish to, and why they still keep struggling. And I think one of the reasons is that we don’t sight read enough.
V: Or don’t listen to music enough as well. That also is very important. Basically, music is like language. You have to immerse yourself in this language. It’s a musical language, and we have to imagine we’re learning like a foreign language. Obviously, learning foreign language is easiest from an early age, right, Ausra?
A: That’s right. I think any skill is easier to learn at the early age, but I think it’s possible to learn later too. But it takes more time, and it requires more effort.
V: Will you be fluent in that language if you start late in life?
A: Well I guess it’s sort of very individual to a person, from person to person.
V: Let’s say a person starts later in life and spends hours every day sight reading and practicing, and listening to musical pieces. At first, it’s a very difficult struggle, right? Because this new language is completely foreign to them. And it takes weeks, even months, before they start to feel any kind of enjoyment, right? And even when people are listening to such training exercises, they’re not interesting at all to listen to. Like one voice, right?
A: That’s right.
V: Especially if played in a slow tempo. I can imagine that if played in a right tempo, if you can play The Art of Fugue soprano voice for example, in a concert tempo, that's a wonderful piece of music by itself. It’s like one single instrument, solo instrument, a flute or a violin playing. But you have to be fluent.
A: That’s right.
V: Otherwise it’s just for you, not for other people to enjoy. But definitely there will come a time in your course where you will feel that something is tipping. You will feel this tipping point where yesterday you didn’t notice improvement, and this morning you started to notice something differently. Something more frequent, more fluently. There was for me also. It’s in any activity. When I was busy doing exercises of pull-ups in my, in our garden last year, for example, at first I couldn’t do a lot of them. Just a few. Or maybe just to hang myself, hang and - not hang myself!
A: I hope not!
V: Simply, I would just hold onto the rings and hang in there, you know, for 30 seconds let’s say. But then after weeks passed, I could do one, then two, then four pull-ups. And then after I reached five pull-ups, I suddenly noticed I could do all those five pull-ups fast. Like not one by one, but in a combination of two or even three - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - in one breath, basically. So obviously this faster pull-up routine makes it easier to do all five of them, right? But I couldn’t do that before. It took me, I don’t know, maybe four months to reach that goal. So obviously, people who practice sight reading from my course need to realize that they have to really keep going for a longer time in order to start feeling the results, like William has. He started about 9 months ago, right? But he didn’t quit after a few weeks, even if it was hard when 32nd notes appeared, or triplets against two eighth notes, those complicated rhythms, you see.
A: Wonderful! I guess William has the kind of character that each of us needs to develop - to be patient and to be consistent about what you are doing.
V: Wonderful. So guys, those of you who are practicing from this course, or sight reading on your own, please don’t quit just after a few days or weeks. Just keep going. And those of you who haven’t seen my course, check it out! I will leave the link in the description of this conversation. Thank you 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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