SOPP622: Thanks Vidas for the complete pedaling and instructions. It has created a great opportunity for me to focus on the pedal technique for early music beyond toes only.
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.
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V: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
Vidas: Let’s start episode 622 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Brigitte, and she writes:
“Thanks Vidas for the complete pedaling and instructions. It has created a great opportunity for me to focus on the pedal technique for early music beyond toes only.”
Vidas: Ausra, do you have an idea what Brigitte is talking about?
Ausra: Well yes, I guess she’s talking about your “Pedal Virtuoso Course.” The focus is on early technique, but then you have supplement material which includes the Romantic and Modern technique as well.
Vidas: Well, could be. Interesting. Let me check. She’s in our Total Organist community. Yeah, I guess she needs to practice her “Pedal Virtuoso Master Course.” Yeah, and of course all pedaling really helps to have… do you think early music could be played with heels also?
Ausra: Well, I think I have talked about this issue many times before, but, I don’t think you need heels in order to play Baroque music. That’s my own opinion.
Vidas: When I play Baroque music, I also almost never use heels. Somehow, toes are quite enough, unless you play one particular piece by Arnoldt Schlick, “Ascendo ad Patrem meum” which has two voices in each foot!
Ausra: Well, but I think this kind of piece is more like an experiment, not like a conventional thing.
Vidal: Yeah, especially since it’s from the 1500s, so it’s a really early piece, and the pedalboard was very narrow, and keys were short, so it would be very difficult to play with heels.
Ausra: But let’s say if you are playing like double pedal, for example like some of the J. S. Bach’s chorale works requires, for example “Aus Tiefer Not.” Do you remember that chorale from the collection for the third part of Clavier-Übung. Would you use any heels?
Vidas: No. If this is a piece composed before the 19th century, even double pedal can be played with toes only in each food, I think. You don’t have to play completely legato, obviously, and that’s why you have toes-only technique. Right?
Ausra: Excellent. That’s what I am doing, too.
Vidas: Actually, Brigitte is not in “Pedal Virtuoso Master Course,” but in “Organ Sight-reading Master Course,” and she is studying Contrapuncti from “The Art of Fugue.” So it’s a different course, but similar technique for early music. Right?
Ausra: Yes. They have some similarities, of course.
Vidas: Right. It was her answer to my question in week 12 of Sight-reading Master Course. So, this week, she had to play only pedal solo lines, and I prepared pedaling for each of the exercises, too. So it was suitable for her, too. Let me check what kind of music she plays there. Yes, of course! Contrapunctus #1, only the bass part. Only the bass. And later on Contrapunctus #2, #3, only the bass up to Contrapunctus #6 or #7 even. Yeah, only the bass in week 12. And she has complete pedaling figured out for her, which is really really helpful. So those are advanced exercises but sound very beautiful if you play at the concert tempo on the pedal. Right Ausra?
Ausra: Yes! Sort of like “Pedal Exercitium” by J. S. Bach, too!
Vidas: I recently recorded this video which has become quite popular in my channel. I don’t know why, actually! More popular than serious organ music, sometimes. Do you have an answer, Ausra?
Ausra: I guess some people are still mystified playing pedals, and love to watch how other people play pedals.
Vidas: I positioned the camera next to the pedalboard so that my feet would be clearly visible, and therefore, obviously, my pedal technique was right in front of their faces.
Ausra: I don’t like this video of yours, and I don’t watch it because it annoys me! Do you know why?
Vidas: Because I’m playing not with organist shoes?
Ausra: That’s right, and you are playing with your almost new shoes that will be thrown away very soon because of you're using it inappropriately.
Vidas: Yeah, I didn’t plan to record this…. anything to record with my feet that day. It was on a Tuesday last week, when I went to Unda Maris studio rehearsal, but you see, I discovered that one student wants to play something with pedals, so I assigned him this “Pedal Exercitium,” and when he started playing, I saw that he doesn’t know how to play it, and I remember that I never recorded a video. So at the end of rehearsal, I practiced a little bit and recorded a complete video. It wasn’t easy, actually! It was very difficult to play the entire exercise from the start until finish in a concert tempo without any hesitations and mistakes. Yeah.
Ausra: Yes, but it’s a nice piece, actually. If you listen closely and you’ve played with passion, you can hear even two voices, because it’s actually written like two individual voices, although it’s just the one line. Have you noticed that?
Vidas: Yes, yes. Left foot is one voice, right foot is another voice. And this piece comes as a bonus material for my pedal virtuoso master course—one of the bonus pieces. I haven’t done a video of another piece, which is an Etude #1 by Alkan. Have you heard of Alkan before? It’s a French 19th century composer.
Ausra: Actually no, I haven’t.
Vidas: He wrote a series of twelve etudes for solo pedals, and I pedaled the first one. Maybe I should create a video of playing that, too.
Ausra: Maybe I should learn it, too!
Vidas: It’s considerable more difficult than the Pedal Exercitium, but worth playing, actually, too. So, hopefully, guys, you found our conversation useful. Please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
Ausra: 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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