SOPP663: My ultimate dream in regard to organ playing would be to gain the technical facility and coordination necessary to perform the masterworks of the Baroque repertoire
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 663 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Daniel, and he writes,
My ultimate dream in regard to organ playing would be to gain the technical facility and coordination necessary to perform the masterworks of the Baroque repertoire (e.g., BWV 582, HWV 432, the entirety of BWV 1080).
Beyond that would be to gain the ability to improvise/think contrapuntally.
The three areas that are impeding these goals would be detailed as:
Thank you again and best regards,
V: What can I say, Ausra? Was it detailed enough?
A: Yes, it’s very detailed. And from my experience both as a music practitioner and also teaching theory for many years now, I could say that you should not study so many theoretical books and all those methods about fingering, pedaling, composition, and you know all those other things that, technical stuff too, as Daniel mentioned. It seems for me that he spends many many hours of studying about music. But if I would be him, I would spend more time actually practicing and spending time with an instrument, because no books will teach you, no methods will teach you how to play. The best teacher is your own ears and your own fingers. And you need to spend as much time at the instrument as you can. Another thing about coordination problem, well I was told by the physical therapist that in general men have more coordination comparing to women. So...
V: Why is that?
A: I don’t know. He told me that from his experience, from his patients that he had had.
V: Maybe it’s because women can do multi-tasking better.
A: I don’t know if it’s related to that, but definitely there is something about that. But once again, you have to work more on that. Because often the pianists struggle with coordination when we switch instruments from piano to an organ.
V: So to go back to your beginning statement, probably I could put it in another way, saying that Daniel is studying about studying, and not doing actual studying more.
A: Yes, you know, let’s see since I’m working at the theory department, well and I’m a practitioner because I play organ a lot. Not as much as I wish I would play, but still a lot comparing to my colleagues for example at the same department. And they know a lot about music, they can hear perfectly, they can easily write polyphonic dictation, let’s say consisting of three parts, but very seldom could any of them sit and play a piece or sight read very well, although they know all this in theory, all the keys and they have most of them perfect pitch and so on and so forth. But if you don’t practice on regular basis, you will not play an instrument. Just reading about how to do it right will not teach you to play. Well and about notion of the right fingering - if we are talking about Baroque repertoire yes, then it’s quite different from what you have learned to play on the piano and what you are playing on the organ. You need some specific knowledge about it and some additional skills. But if we are talking about Romantic and Modern, Contemporary Repertoire, then basically the fingering is same, where you don’t need to rediscover and to recreate the bicycle, it already works.
V: Yes, organ fingering specific to organ probably applies mostly to Early Music, whereas you see on the organ in Romantic Era, they tried to recreate perfect legato without the sustain pedal that piano has, so you have to do everything with your fingers. You can do perfect legato on the piano with the fingers, but also with the help of the sustain pedal, don’t you think? And that might be different fingering choice, too.
A: Well yes, but you know the good pianist will also think about fingering. Because only using pedal and cheating by that will not substitute a legato, really legato touch.
V: Mm hm.
A: And some of the pianists, some bad pianists, they simply overuse the pedal.
V: Right. And if we’re talking about organ fingering, early organ fingering let’s say, or early keyboard fingering, you don’t need to aim for legato at all. You can use position fingering basically. Change positions and change fingers when you change positions, when you change chords, right?
V: It’s more complicated than that, but the basic principle might be like this. There are more nuances of course, which you can learn in other trainings that we have.
A: Yes, but you know what I mean actually that read less books and practice more. Even J.S. Bach he haven’t rewritten any treatises of his time, and he actually haven’t written any treatises of his own, but as he was a child and lived with his brother, he wrote down music by other composers.
V: Remember he wrote one page of, sort of rules in playing thoroughbass.
V: One page!
A: And that was enough.
V: Mm hm.
A: Because I think that practice is all or the most that you need. Of course you need some guidance definitely, you need some guidance, some rules, and some knowledge but not overwhelm yourself with it. Because you won’t have time and energy left to practice.
V: Thanks guys for listening to this conversation! We hope this was useful to you. Please send us more of your questions - 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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