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 645 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Katrine, and she writes,
Thanks for asking about this Vidas.
1. To be as fluent and reliable at organ playing as I am at the piano (professional accompanist/repetiteur by background)
2. Getting the set-up right for feet and being confident that I am practising in a way that will lead to accuracy - not sure if stool height is correct, shoes are perhaps too wide etc. Unclear on where feet should be able to reach (get pain in legs if I stretch too far and have hurt knee trying to insist with my right leg that it can reach the bottom notes!) and not sure how best to practise pedal scales (have seen varying advice on toe/heel use).
V: Okay. So Katrine wants to be very much proficient at organ playing because she is now proficient at piano - professional accompanist and repetiteur. Let’s talk about her challenges.
A: Well, as I understood her, the main challenge is basically the pedal technique and playing pedal in general. So if she is not sure how the, basically the women organist shoes need to look like, she might watch my videos on my YouTube channel.
V: Yes, Ausra uses Organmaster shoes. I also use Organmaster shoes, but for men. And I will of course include the link to that site for people to click.
A: Yes, and as my brother was just making a joke another day while watching my videos, said that my shoes, these organ shoes would be very good when I would be dead…
V: For funeral!
A: Yes, for funeral! Well, that was of course a bad joke, but really funny.
V: Only your brother could joke like that.
V: To you.
V: Okay, so Pedal Virtuoso Master Course would really help people who are struggling with pedal technique, don’t you think?
A: Yes, that’s a very helpful course.
V: If she wants to play scales on the pedals, so that’s part of this program, scales and arpeggios. And we have exercises that help to develop the perfect pedal technique with heels and toes. Just need to stick with it for a number of weeks. It’s not that easy to start, and people get discouraged.
A: Sure, especially that’s a problem if you are a really accomplished pianist, and suddenly you started to play the organ, and you can still do very things on the manuals, but you are a beginner with your feet, and it might be frustrating. You might want to achieve results very fast, but it’s a slow process in reality. It takes patience and it takes time.
V: Right. The thing about setting the feet and sitting in the right way is that when you sit, your feet have to touch the pedalboard - not entire pedalboard, but just the edge of the sharps. The toes have to touch the sharps. But not depress the keys - that would be too low, the bench height too low. But just gently touch the surface of the white keys where they connect with the sharps, don’t you think, Ausra?
A: Yes, that’s very good advice. And then never think about reaching, let’s say with the right foot at the left side of the pedal board. You cannot do that. Because there are certain limits, how far your feet should go.
V: I agree. I usually limit my right foot in the left hand side of the pedalboard starting from bottom G. The G is still possible to play, comfortable to play with the right foot, but below G is not. The same is if you want to go up in the pedalboard and play the top right notes. I would play probably A or B flat, maybe A with the left foot; and then starting from B, I would play only with the right foot - correct?
A: Yes, that’s what I do, too. Because I really have quite short legs, and wouldn’t, couldn’t reach so far. So what I do, I really love to play baroque music, because when you are using alternate toes, that solves many of the problems, plus when I am playing hymns, I also mainly use just toes in the pedals. But if I am playing modern or romantic music and of course I cannot avoid using heels, then I actually use a lot of sliding with my feet and a lot of substitutions.
V: Another thing that might help is to understand how to shift position. Then you wouldn’t hurt your knees when you have to play with the right foot in the lower left region of the pedalboard. Not extreme lower, but maybe in the bottom octave somewhere. Then you need to shift your lower half, your legs, basically. Your knees have to be facing the note that you will be playing. If you’re playing, let’s say bottom G with the right foot, or with the left foot also, you have to shift both of your knees into that direction, and both of the knees have to face the note G. The same is if you move up towards, also you move your both knees to the right. That helps?
A: Yes, that helps of course. And another thing that you need to know, that unless you have some sort of preexisting health condition and it hurts when you’re playing, then maybe you need to consult your physician what you need to do, but if you haven’t had any preexisting conditions and it’s starting to hurt your knees, for example, for playing the organ, it means that you are really doing something not in that direction as it should be, because naturally it shouldn’t be hurting your feet while playing the organ.
V: Yes. Be careful, and if it starts to hurt, make a rest, walk around the room for awhile, and see what you can improve in terms of shifting the direction, maybe adjusting the bench height or distance from the keyboards also. It doesn’t have, it shouldn’t be too far away from the pedalboard - from the keyboards, actually.
A: Yes, especially if you are not really high for example, as I am.
V: So, both your feet should be touching the edge of the sharps and resting gently on the pedalboard. That’s the correct distance and height of the bench. Okay. We hope this was useful to Katrine. Please check out our Pedal Virtuoso Master Course. That way you can grow much faster. And send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
V: This podcast is supported by Total Organist - the most comprehensive organ training program online.
A: It has hundreds of courses, coaching and practice materials for every area of organ playing, thousands of instructional videos and PDF's. You will NOT find more value anywhere else online...
V: Total Organist helps you to master any piece, perfect your technique, develop your sight-reading skills, and improvise or compose your own music and much much more…
A: Sign up and begin your training today at organduo.lt and click on Total Organist. And of course, you will get the 1st month free too. You can cancel anytime.
V: If you like our organ music, you can also support us on Patreon and BMC and get early access to our videos.
A: Find out more at patreon.com/secretsoforganplaying and buymeacoffee.com/organduo
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Our Hauptwerk Setup:
Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.