SOPP660: I've been struggling with mastering Part I of Trio Sonata No. 4 by J.S. Bach. For some reason it's harder to do than I imagined it would be.
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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Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: Let’s start episode 660 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Vidas! By me! And, I've been struggling with mastering Part I of Trio Sonata No. 4 by J.S. Bach. For some reason it's harder to do than I imagined it would be. How do you like this question, Ausra?
Ausra: Well, because you mentioned your imagination to me, maybe your imagination is poor, that you cannot imagine it will be as hard.
Vidas: Luckily, I was able to record it and master this part after I submitted this question, but yes, it was a difficult part. It’s the Trio Sonata in E minor. And usually, the first movement easier than third movement, but in this Trio Sonata, it was the opposite.
Ausra: Actually, I remember myself playing this Trio Sonata many years back, and I also screwed up the first movement. For me, it was really hard, that opening, because it starts sort of slowly and then it speeds up, and I don’t know, it’s really weird.
Vidas: Can you ask me how I did it?
Ausra: Well, yes, of course, because you are already asking yourself questions and you are talking with yourself, I think you reached sort of a new level of insanity!
Vidas: Thank you! You’re very nice. I can share that while mastering this part and other parts as well, I’ve been following my 10 step method. (Ausra is already yawning). Why are you yawning, Ausra?
Ausra: Because I cannot count up to 10. Maybe up to 3.
Vidas: Okay. My method is rather boring to you. Right? But I still think it works, none-the-less.
Ausra: I think it’s actually a wonderful method, and I think it’s my problem that I can’t cope with it because I don’t have enough patience, but I think it’s an excellent method. I think I would benefit a lot if I would use it more often.
Vidas: Would you like me to be your teacher?
Ausra: Maybe not.
Vidas: I could teach you patience; annoy you 24/7!
Ausra: I think you do that always with huge success already, so you don’t need to do any extra hard work in teaching me.
Vidas: So anyway, the first step in mastering this Trio Sonata is obviously to watch my video, because I shared all those steps in my video. I will, of course, add the link into the description of this podcast so that other people can click and watch, but generally, the thing about this step, you kind of unwrap this Trio Sonata in practicing very small segments like one quarter note at a time, then you expand it into half note level, then a whole note level, then let’s say 2 measures at a time, four measures at a time, one line, two lines, one page, two pages, and then the entire piece. Ausra is already asleep.
Ausra: Well, no, I’m laughing, actually. Well, it’s not how I learn Trios, but anyway, I think it’s a good method, especially for beginners.
Vidas: Can you promise, Ausra, when you will play 6th Trio Sonata, you will share your own method with us in video?
Ausra: Well, I just do simple work, actually. At least when I was a student, I would play two voices at the same time, let’s say both hands, then right hand and pedals, left hand and pedals, and then everything together. That’s the way how I learn to play Trios.
Vidas: Yes, but could you demonstrate it on video?
Ausra: Do you think people would be interested?
Vidas: We’ll find out if anybody will comment. You know? But I think it’s good to share your process, too. Not only the result. What do you think?
Ausra: Well, if you watch it I can do it for you.
Vidas: And of course I will watch it. It’s good for your watch hours, too!
Ausra: But of course, I don’t know how soon I will be able to work on that Sonata, because right now I am preparing for my next recital.
Vidas: And what’s the program for that?
Ausra: De Grigny – “Veni Creator Spiritus,” then Franck’s “Prélude, Fugue et Variation,” and the entire “Symphony no. 3” by Louis Vierne.
Vidas: I am very glad you have taken up this program, because it will sound wonderful on the Nancy Cathedral sample set [note: “Nancy” spoken with a French accent].
Ausra: Yes, or Nancy as you call it. [note: “Nancy” spoken with an American accent]
Vidas: It’s funny. So anyway, watch my videos, of course, with this part one of Trio Sonata, ten steps, and let us know if that helps. It did help to me! It was a big help for me to follow my own steps, and I write also one more thing on the sheet of paper or on the score somewhere in the corner, with pencil, I mark my repetitions. Let’s say I played this Trio Sonata from the beginning to the end one time, and I mark one like number one. Right? And if I play it a second time, I write number two, and I count those repetitions. How many do I have to do in order to prepare it for recording or recital. Would you like to find out how many did I do with this Trio Sonata?
Ausra: The actual number scares me.
Vidas: Could you hold the laptop, please?
Vidas: I will go to another room and get the score and we’ll see… So I got the score, and here is this Trio Sonata. You see what I mean, Ausra?
Ausra: Yes, I see, but actually, it looks like if you would be on the island, the uninhabited island and you would have to count your days that you wouldn’t mess up!
Vidas: Or in the prison.
Ausra: Yes, or in a prison! That’s how it looks like.
Vidas: It has 40 total repetitions. 40!
Ausra: So why are you not writing numbers but only these tiny sticks?
Vidas: It’s easier for me to write a stick than a number.
Vidas: So basically, people could write numbers if they want, but I wrote sticks, and each stick represents one repetition. But there are actually columns of repetitions, of sticks, which means one column is one practice session. So for example, in practice session number one, I repeated this movement five times, so I drew 5 sticks. Then the second time 5. 5, 5, 5, 5, so let’s count. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight practice sessions. Not necessarily 8 days, but 8 practice sessions. Probably, I sometimes practice twice per day. But 40 total repetitions. I think that’s a good result. Don’t you think?
Ausra: I think it’s an excellent result.
Vidas: It was still a little bit pushing my boundaries. I would have enjoyed it more if I had added 10 more repetitions. But between, let’s say, 40 and 100, I could do it easily. Anyone could do it easily… if they reach level where they can practice my steps successfully. If not, then the piece is too difficult for them. You see what I mean?
Vidas: Yes Master!
Ausra: Yes Master! I’m doomed!
Vidas: Wow. It’s so fun to teach my wife! Is it fun for you, too?
Ausra: Yes, sure.
Vidas: Okay, wait while we’ll turn off the recording.
Ausra: Wait until you will become hungry. Who will feed you?
Vidas: Sure. Your mom!
Ausra: You can eat your Trio Sonata! All those steps.
Vidas: Okay. So guys, I hope you enjoyed this conversation. It was fun for me to answer my own question, but I hope this was useful for other people as well if they are struggling with similar things that I do. Right?
Vidas: Okay, 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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