SOPP661: This week I was struggling to record videos. When I play, sometimes I hit the wrong key or pedal...
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.
V: Let’s start episode 661 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was written by Diana, and she writes,
"This week I was struggling to record videos. When I play, sometimes I hit the wrong key or pedal... also I had some difficulties recording the introduction of my performance in Unda Maris concert."
So Unda Maris is our Vilnius University Organ Studio, which is now just recently played joint recital, and Diana was preparing for that earlier when she submitted this question. Do you remember the recital, Ausra?
A: Yes, of course I remember it.
V: Maybe I’ll share the link with our listeners in this conversation as well, to remind them what happened during this recital. I think this was a rather nice concert, considering we are only practicing and studying online, not physically at the church.
A: Yes, I think the result was actually better than in the previous years when you played the live recitals with your studio. Because people were taking recordings, and of course they could take several takes and to put their best, the best out of the best. So no mistakes, no sloppy job. And I think it went very well.
A: Plus everybody had to talk a little bit about the program, which I found very nice too.
V: And Diana was also writing about the difficulty in recording introduction. But probably her English about her pronunciation. What do you remember?
A: I think in general it’s hard for people to talk in public or to film themselves, and to talk, I have heard and read that some researchers show that actually for some people, the public speaking is scarier than disease or even death.
V: Right. You remember Jerry Seinfeld the comedian?
A: Yes, I remember.
V: And his joke was that because people are more scared to public speaking than death, so speaking at a funeral, eulogy, is more scary than being in a coffin (laughs).
A: (laughs) Not so funny, but actually it is funny.
V: Right, right?
V: So remember when we first arrived in the United States to do our Master’s Degree? We had to take English as a Second Language courses, and you took some course where they required you to film yourself.
A: Yes, that was called the course of Academic Communication.
V: Did you enjoy filming yourself?
A: No it was really scary.
V: But was it helpful?
A: But it was very helpful because I had to analyze what I had recorded and I would have to look at myself, at my face, and to all my intonations, and how I look at the public. And it was really helpful for all my future presentations.
V: Yes. Then you could see how people are perceiving you, not how you think you are perceiving yourself, right? When you see yourself in the mirror it’s a different thing than if you only hear yourself talk.
A: Definitely. And I have seen funny things how people don’t know where to put their camera. And for example, if they are talking to a public, recording something to the public, but they are looking down all the time or up all the time. But basically you need to put your camera at your eye level, that you could keep eye contact with your audience. It’s very important.
V: Right. And of course background is important. What is behind you. A blank wall looks different than, let's say, a wall with some pictures or paintings or some furniture. Just nicer colors I think. Don’t you think?
A: Well I think it’s a matter of personal taste. I would say that the surroundings should not sort of...
V: Distract you?
A: Distract you, yes.
V: But, if you put let’s say many many books, thick books behind you or on the table, you will look smarter, don’t you think?
A: Do you think so?
A: Do you think that you are wearing glasses you look smarter than I am?
V: I don’t think I look smarter than you are.
A: But you wear glasses, and I am not.
V: Because I am smarter than you!
A: If you would put many books behind you and you would talk with your thick glasses, people would think that he hadn’t to read so many books, that way he wouldn’t need to wear glasses.
V: So it helps, or not?
A: What, books?
A: (laughs). I don’t know, I don’t wear them, see?
V: Okay, so yeah - suggestion to everyone who is struggling in recording themselves while talking is actually to do it more often and to analyse your recordings.
A: Yes, it will be scary at the beginning but it really helps. It’s like recording your performance too. You know, if you want to live peacefully and sleep peacefully you wouldn’t have to do that, but that way you will never be really good.
V: Right. You could actually get away without recording if you always are performing in live settings, like always in situations where people are watching and listening to you like concerts, recitals. Church services count to some degree, but not so much, because music there is more or less background, not, people’s attention is not entirely on you. It’s sometimes yes, when you play hymn introduction or solo piece when people are actually listening, which is rare during church service, then yes, you need to focus and it’s as important as playing solo music during recitals. But nowadays we know that there is not so much opportunity to play live recitals because of the pandemic. So what people do instead is record and upload their playing to YouTube. It’s proof that they have mastered the piece. Not only for any other reasons, but just to have an archive of their accomplishments.
A: Yes, but you know, some people just like to criticise what, for example, I am playing. But when I ask them to present me recordings of the work, they say to me proudly, “we only play in a live environment,” and they don’t have recordings. So maybe they can play.
V: But they listen and watch your recordings. What double standard that is, right?
V: If you don’t like recordings, so don’t even watch them! Just go to live concerts then. But no, they watch and listen to recordings and never record themselves, which is actually hiding. That’s their excuse.
A: And you know, the other nasty thing I thought, that usually when I play something French that let’s say Marie-Claire Alain or Demessieux has recorded themselves, people are sort of impolite enough to send me recordings by these two great French ladies. Of course I know how they play - I have watched and listened to recordings. I’m not as dumb. But to sort of compare me with legendary organ figures, I think it’s so unfair, because I’m just middle-age, Eastern European lady who didn’t had really good environment let’s say to study organ music from early childhood.
V: I don’t think you need to underestimate your skill and experience, Ausra. Because those people who send you only masters, world-renowned organists recordings, behave the same like people who say their favorite organ piece is Widor’s Toccata or Bach’s Toccata in D Minor. You know why they say that? Because they don’t know any other pieces.
V: That’s the same thing. They might know only a few, five people, legendary people who are playing the organ. Marie-Claire Alain or Olivier Latry being two of them for sure.
A: Well, don’t be so sure. Latry gets so much critique from all these “experts,” as he gets compared to Marie-Claire Alain.
V: Of course, when you play Alain’s music, you naturally get compared to Marie-Claire Alain, because she was a sister. But I think there are hundreds, if not thousands, great performers all over the world. And not only organists, great musicians in general who play other instruments, and who should not get this very short-sighted vision to only listen to three or five people and exclude everything else which is going on. Which is actually a way for them to undermine their own abilities. If they say, “only these masters are great,” and what everybody else is doing is not worth their attention, they are diminishing their own skills as well.
V: Thank you guys for listening, for sending these questions. Please do that more often. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: 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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