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.
Ausra: We hope you’ll enjoy it!
Vidas: A lot of times, the instrument will teach you everything you need to know.
Ausra: Sure, you just really need to learn to listen to yourself, what you are doing.
Vidas: Now we have to take this saying with a grain of salt, because a lot of people today play at home with some kind of electronic instruments or virtual instruments, and in virtual instruments, the sound might be quite realistic, but the touch might be plastic. You see? And it’s quite different from tracker touch in a real pipe organ situation. People might not necessarily discover on their own when they play their home organs. Don’t you think?
Ausra: As well, they can record themselves and listen to how it sounds, and of course you need to get opportunities to try different instruments.
Vidas: Yes, go to locations, various locations, that’s more difficult than playing and practicing at home and enjoying the beautiful sounds from your living room. And this is a very comfortable setting. No one is bothering you, there are no external sounds or disturbances, but at the same time, you also lose something, right? With the extended effort that you need to put in when you go to church to practice and play the organ you gain something from that experience as well, after live concerts in the church as well, Ausra. Do you agree?
Ausra: Sure! But you know, I think this fear of new environments and new instruments might come because you know so much, and you have tried so many different instruments. But for example, you know, for kids, they don’t have such a fear. If you remember, I once had the lecture demonstration / concert / public lessons for kids from the musical school at the museum of… church museum on that tiny Italian style instrument.
Vidas: Yes, yes I rememer that.
Ausra: And you know, before that I was so worried how all these little kids that have never tried to play the organ (they were all studying piano) and you know, how will they do on that instrument, and they will have to play something for me at the end of it. And actually, they did just fine, because they didn’t bother to be afraid of trying and of playing another unfamiliar instrument, and they did just great.
Vidas: They didn’t overthink it.
Ausra: Sure. Sure!
Vidas: It reminds me of the experience that I had when playing this roll-up piano we recently got. Right Ausra?
Ausra: Yes, we got it yesterday.
Vidas: It looks scary, right? You can fold it up, fold it in a roll and take it with you when you’re traveling, but it looks scary when you play. There are no white and black key differences too much—a little bit of difference, the sharp keys are a little bit higher than the white keys, just a little bit, and the touch is different, of course, than either plastic keyboard or tracker touch, but as I discovered myself yesterday, if you just do it, sooner or later you get used to that touch also. Of course it’s not that comfortable, and maybe not even pleasant to play like that, but in emergency situations when you don’t want to miss practicing when you travel, I think it’s a good tool to have. So this comment I made like that reminds me of new instruments which we discover when we travel. And they’re not necessarily really scary, either. Right?
Ausra: Yes. As I said, the most important thing is to practice.
Vidas: What about audiation? You didn’t mention too much your position on the value of sight-singing. Does it help people develop this mental thinking and mental hearing that Daniel is talking about?
Ausra: Well, you know, what I strongly believe why I think that all the audiation things must be done, must be developed, until you are a teenager. Because when you are a child these are the things you can develop very easily and you are still very flexible. You know, if you only start to do audiation when you are a complete adult, I think it will be really hard. It will, of course, give you some benefit, but I would not think it would do magic.
Vidas: So, for people who are, let’s say, competitive in nature, they want to participate in competitions, then this type of learning, it’s probably too late for them. Right? Because they start too late in their life. But if they’re only doing it like Daniel, for themselves just to improve, why not?
Ausra: Yes! In general singing is very very good for any musicians.
Vidas: I usually emphasize singing music that you play. Your own organ pieces, excerpts of melodies, chorale melodies, even the hymn tunes. Right? What about opening any hymnal and just singing the hymns.
Ausra: Yes, but it will not do you much good if you only sing the melody or soprano line. I think if you really need to do the audiation and you want to benefit from it, you need to sing inner voices. Let’s say if you have four voices, then sing alto or tenor. It will benefit you much more than singing the soprano line all the time.
Vidas: Or start with just two voices at a time. One voice you play, one voice you sing, and you switch.
Ausra: Yes, that’s very beneficial! But I really don’t know how much time you have to do it for such things, because it takes time. It really takes time.
Ausra: Especially if you don’t have well developed skills to do it, it might be really difficult.
Vidas: And might not be worth it, you see.
Ausra: Well, yes. In some cases, yes.
Vidas: Yeah. Usually people don’t have full time devoted just for organ playing and improving organ practice, improving their audiation and improving their organ technique. So they need to do something very concise in that area—to learn something in 30 minutes or 1 hour, or at the most, 2 hours with some breaks in between. Right?
Vidas: Every day, ideally. But some people don’t even practice every day. That’s the key.
Ausra: Yes, and you know, if you will have all day long to do things every day of what Daniel talked about, all of them are actually excellent things, you know. But it takes really many many hours to achieve it.
Vidas: Yes. So maybe, this is a long conversation. Right? Maybe we will split it in two halves to discuss it in two different podcast episodes. Almost 20 minutes. Time flies quickly!
Ausra: Sure, when the question is good.
Vidas: And very thoroughly detailed. Okay guys, 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.
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.