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!
Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: Let’s start episode 654 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by me, Vidas! I posted my answer in the Total Organist community Basecamp channel, where I’ve been asked the question, “What have you been struggling with the most in organ playing this week. So, I wrote:
“Last week I was struggling to record Trio Sonata No. 1 in Eb Major, BWV 525 by J.S. Bach. Somehow I find it easier to play live recitals than to record pieces one by one.”
For reference, here are the 3 videos of this trio sonata:
Vidas: I should add probably, “not only easier but more enjoyable.” Right Ausra?
Vidas: You, too?
Vidas: You like more playing recitals than recording pieces?
Ausra: Definitely. It’s much easier!
Vidas: I wonder, why is this the case with us? Why do we gladly play a live performance of an extended program, and struggling to record a three or five minute piece?
Ausra: Well, it’s easier to play a recital because you have to do it only once. But if you start recording a single piece, then if you aren’t happy about something in it, you have to play it over, and over again, until you get a recording that you like.
Vidas: And since we both appreciate perfection, we can’t be happy if a recording is not perfect. Right?
Ausra: Yes, and because you have to start from the beginning each time when you are recording the same piece, after a while it seems you know the beginning really well, but you don’t know how the ending sounds, because you never get to the ending.
Vidas: I know what you mean. In the five minute piece of, let’s say, one movement from Trio Sonata, it’s so easy to play the first page. Your concentration is there, you can focus for that long and not make mistakes. But then you get to the second page, and mistakes might happen. Then you come back and try again, and maybe the first page, now, goes wrong with some mistakes and the second page is better. It’s quite unpredictable. Because you’re right; we don’t cut and paste recordings. We try to play from the beginning until the end without stopping, not paste two parts of different recordings. Let’s say the first part was perfect in one session, and the second part was perfect in the second session. So if I wanted, I could glue them together with the means of editing software, but I usually don’t, because I tend to appreciate life performance.
Ausra: Yes. I think those are more exciting but also more difficult at the same time. Don’t you find it frustrating sometimes?
Vidas: It is frustrating! I remember that’s why I wrote my question. I was really struggling to record actually all of the movements, all three of the movements, maybe less so the third one, which is surprisingly strange, because the third movement is really fast and more difficult than the first two. Right? Usually. But for me, the third one is better than the first two. And even the middle movement, which is a slow movement, Adagio, I had to repeat them so many times and was not even able to record it in one day! I had to record it the next day, because the first day was not perfect.
Ausra: Not all of the Trio movements, slow movements, are easy. For example, I struggled a lot with the C Major, the second movement, because those repeated notes just drove me crazy.
Vidas: Yes, and especially for Eb Major Trio Sonata No. 1 (here is the score with fingering and pedaling), the second movement has repeats. And for recording purposes, I do repeat. So the piece is twice as long! Not 5 minutes long, but almost 10 minutes long, in this case—9.5 minutes long, to be precise. And that requires even more focusing!
Ausra: And sometimes it’s really hard to pick up a right tempo for a slow movement, because if you will play it too slow, it will sound boring and everybody will fall asleep, and if you play it too fast, it will might sound unmusical, so it’s really a big issue.
Vidas: So what’s the solution then? How to approach this problem; to play more live recitals and less recorded pieces one by one or to approach recording pieces in some different light?
Ausra: I would rather play more recitals.
Vidas: And then you can cut individual pieces from those recitals. Right?
Ausra: Yes. If you would play them well enough.
Vidas: That’s right. You could effectively actually make less recordings one by one like this, but have more time to prepare for your recitals, because let’s face it, if I spent an hour or 30 minutes just recording one movement from Trio Sonata, that hour was not spent preparing for my next recital.
Ausra: That’s right.
Vidas: Unless I will play that movement in the recital, which I probably will. But my other repertoire is probably needing also my attention. Correct?
Ausra: Yes, that’s right.
Vidas: Would you suggest me to stop recording and play more recitals or what?
Ausra: Well, I don’t think I’m a really good advisor in this case. I think you need to choose for yourself.
Vidas: You are the best advisor, because you are the only one in the room besides me.
Ausra: But would you listen to my advice?
Vidas: It depends on what advice would you give me.
Ausra: I think you are determined enough to do it your way, so I will not interfere.
Vidas: No, in this case, I was really thinking about this question, whether to record more or play more recitals. And that’s not only this week’s question, I was thinking about an entire semester or more. Starting, actually, from last year when I started playing recitals and recordings with our new Hauptwerk setup, I found this problem exactly valuable and worthy of my attention, because it was actually more difficult at the beginning, because I wasn’t used to rigorous recording sessions last year. Now, it’s actually easier, but still frustrating at times.
Ausra: Well, you know, if you will set yourself a goal, for example to record one piece each day—doesn’t matter what happens—then I think you would become sort of a like a real Internet organist who would play short, easy pieces in order to record them every day. And then, if you will have to play an entire recital, I doubt that you can put the program together out of those short easy pieces. So I don’t think that recording new pieces every day is a good solution. Maybe you could find some sort of balance between playing recitals and recording?
Vidas: I’m not an average organist, because I also record the tutorials. Sometimes tutorials of learning new pieces like this Trio Sonata, last week it was recording not only each movement individually, but also my step-by-step method of mastering these pieces. Or harmony analysis of hymns, as well. I could actually start learning a wider repertoire, a larger repertoire for my upcoming recital, but during that time, I could also record some tutorials, like educational videos from time to time—maybe not necessarily every day, but whenever time permits—and at the end of that period, I could play a recital. Would that be a balance?
Ausra: Yes. I think so.
Vidas: And, as you say, we can cut out some pieces from the recital that way to enhance our channels later, if you like the quality of the live performance well enough.
Ausra: Yes, that would be a solution.
Vidas: Okay guys! Things are getting clearer to me!
Ausra: And you really need to send us more questions, because if you will not, Vidas will answer his own questions in our upcoming sessions and podcasts, and that wouldn’t be nice!
Vidas: Because those questions will not necessarily apply to everybody.
Ausra: That’s right.
Vidas: For example; I could answer Ausra’s questions, too, right? Which we will do next, in the next conversation.
Ausra: Oh dear!
Vidas: So, we’d better go and form some questions. Thank you guys, this was Vidas,
Ausra: And Ausra!
Vidas: 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.
Our Hauptwerk Setup: