SOPP644: My dream is to serve as an organist and lead the choir in my church organisation
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.
Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: Let’s start episode 644 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Paje, and this is the answer to my question, “What is the goal in organ playing, and what are some challenges that get in the way of this goal. So:
“1. Dream to serve as an organist and lead the choir in my Church Organisation.
2. Lack of consistent mentorship, lack of accountability, lack of clarity on what to focus on first as a beginner.”
Vidas: Okay, so I think we need to discuss the challenges, probably. Right?
Vidas: The most apparent ones.
Vidas: Because the dream to serve as an organist and lead the choir in the church is very common.
Ausra: Yes, that’s a very common wish for many church organists.
Vidas: So if someone lacks a consistent mentorship, what does it mean? Does it mean that they don’t have a teacher?
Ausra: Well, yes and maybe not, because mentorship is not the same as a teacher! The mentor and the teacher…
Vidas: And what might be the differences or similarities maybe. Because sometimes people call me teacher, sometimes they call me mentor, and I am confused.
Ausra: Well, I would make a difference between mentor and teacher. The teacher is actually somebody who gives us actual lessons on something. And mentorship is probably a person whom you respect, whom you esteem, from whom you get your ideas, and who keeps you going. That’s what I see as the difference between teacher and mentor.
Vidas: I see. So lack of mentorship means that they don’t have a person whom they esteem, whom they look up to. Right? So that’s where we come in, probably. If they asked us for advice and write emails, probably we can be examples to them.
Ausra: I hope so!
Vidas: Yeah, we hope so, too. So just follow our advice, follow our lead, and you will get, of course, leadership and mentorship this way. Look at what we are doing on line and listen to our videos, teachings, apply them in your practice, and you will start growing as an organist. What about lack of accountability, Ausra? Accountability probably means that if you have a goal and you want to achieve that goal and you are not sure if you’re progressing in the right direction. Right? Somebody else needs to tell you if you are doing right or wrong. Correct?
Ausra: Might be. Yes.
Vidas: So that’s like a teacher. They need a teacher or they need the examples from their peers! Maybe other students who are on the same path of becoming an organist in the church and leading the choir, and they are striving to do the same, and together they can hold themselves accountable, like a group.
Ausra: Sure. But you know, I… Well, this thing about accountability, I think probably it’s not very fair and not honest with him- or herself. Because I don’t know if anybody wouldn’t feel that he or she is doing progress or not… either is improving or not. Don’t you think so?
Vidas: Can you elaborate a little bit what you mean?
Ausra: Well wouldn’t you feel that you are doing progress or not?
Vidas: Right now, yes. I am educated enough to see if I’m progressing. What if I’m a beginner?
Ausra: Well, anyway, but even when I was in first grade, I would feel if I’m playing the piece already well enough or not, or if I’m still struggling with it. And if you are a church organist, you might measure your progress on how fast, for example, you can learn a hymn. Is it giving you as much trouble as it gave you a month ago? Still, there are some kind of measures how you can look at yourself and measure your progress.
Vidas: And for children it is different because they are not always very conscious of their goals. Parents set their goals for them, and therefore they need somebody else external outside of themselves to hold them accountable. But if you are an adult and you have a goal, you keep yourself accountable.
Ausra: Yes, that’s what I’m thinking, that the most important reason to be accountable is how you treat yourself.
Vidas: Lack of clarity. The next item on his or her list is lack of clarity on what to focus as a beginner.
Ausra: Well, I believe that in this case, you know, you just need, you know, to focus on what you need the most at the church. What is your church and what are your congregation’s needs. Do you have, for example, to play more solos or more accompany the choir, or congregational singing. Then you have to focus on what is the most important.
Vidas: I would add that they need to bring the church hymnal at home, the same hymnal that is used in their church, and start learning these hymns for the specific liturgical Sunday. If today is Lent, so you start learning hymns for Lent. Right? You might not necessarily be proficient in all of the Lenten hymns, but several, yes. Or if you want to start learning hymns for the future, for Easter say, you can do that, too, so that in a few weeks from now, you can be prepared to play a couple of Easter hymns. Correct?
Ausra: Yes, and not only hymns, because I don’t know exactly what denomination it is, but it also depends. You might need to play, for example, even the parts of Mass, like Kyrie, Gloria, and others, or whatever the congregation, denomination you are.
Vidas: Well, correct. You just need to ask either the pastor or priest what kind of music do they need, or you might know already, because they want to lead the choir in “my church organization,” so they already have this church denomination or congregation that they want to serve. So just, they probably know already what to play.
Ausra: Sure, and if somebody hires you, I guess you receive some sort of requests from your employer.
Vidas: Yes. And if in doubt, always consult your pastor or priest. That’s what will give you focus as a beginner.
Ausra: Yes, and if you are a music director, then of course you can set up your rules.
Vidas: Yes, but music directors probably will not be beginners in this case. Correct?
Vidas: So. Okay! We hope this was useful to you guys. 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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