SOPP669: A few years ago, I bought a roll-up piano hoping that it would provide a means for me to practice on my airline trips
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 669 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Chad, and he writes,
A few years ago, I bought a roll-up piano hoping that it would provide a means for me to practice on my airline trips. I desperately wanted to like it. But I HATED it! There was no tactile feel… No way to tell one key from the other. And the contacts didn’t work very well, so it was difficult to play the notes without tapping them pretty hard.
But maybe there has been progress in their construction? Which one did you buy? You must be somewhat pleased with it if you can get it to work well enough to make videos!
V: What do you think, Ausra?
A: Yes, I remember our summer adventure. Actually, they work better now because we didn’t have the contact problems, yes? When we press key it really sounded quite on time and everything worked quite well.
V: Except when you want to play two voices in one hand.
A: Yes, that makes things of course harder. But you could practice inventions, two-part inventions, for example, it would work pretty well.
A: And you know of course it cannot replace the real instrument. It cannot replace the real thing, but it was nice, because we played with it during our summer break when we were resting on the beach in Palanga and it was sort of fun to take it to the various locations and to play something.
V: On the beach, on the castle, on the bench, anywhere actually. And then on the bridge, right? On the fountain...
A: Yes, but it was sort of more like a fun time for us, yes?
V: Right, musical adventure. But for practice purposes you have to actually hear everything you play. It could be a silent keyboard. If you have a table, you roll up this piano and you play, without even actually connecting it to some computer to produce a sound.
A: Yes, and I think this kind of roll-up keyboard could be really great for the kids to sort of, to start the interest in music in general.
V: Yeah, because it’s a fun gadget.
A: Yes, it’s like a toy.
V: Mm hm. It’s a toy. Except now when we travel, after this trip, I was also frustrated that I had to bang those keys pretty hard, and actually some of my fingers started to hurt. So I decided to look around online and see what other options for portable MIDI keyboards are there. And I found this folding MIDI keyboard, folding piano basically. It comes in two sizes, 88 keys (like a real piano, 88 keys), or 49 keys - 4 octaves, suitable for most organ music. So I decided to go out and buy. And you can take a look at the website I have available, organduo.lt/tools. Our Hauptwerk setup is listed there with all the links, pictures, videos. You can find the stationary home organ setup that we use for normal use, and you’ll find all other repercussions that we decided to try out: folding keyboard, roll-up piano, everything. So you will see a little bit more information about that.
A: But I think this folding keyboard works much better than the roll-up keyboard…
A: ...because actually we did early some videos for fun with roll-up keyboard during our summer break, summer vacation, but I wouldn’t use, for example, roll-up keyboard in real performance environment.
A: Yes, because it’s too risky and you know....
V: It’s risky in the sense that some notes could actually get lost, right?
A: Yes. But with the folding keyboard, Vidas already has performed live, and it worked pretty well.
V: Let’s see, I performed on…
A: You performed..
V: ...in a funeral.
A: Yes, and you performed a memorial recital.
A: For my mom’s aunt. And you also played Gaudeamus igitur on the solemn occasion for the School of Law.
A: At Vilnius University. And it worked well (I played it recently at the President's Palace too).
V: Yes, they didn’t have any instruments so I decided to bring my folding keyboard as well as special speaker, bluetooth speaker. And it worked well for that hall. I had a soloist with me, I gave a special microphone connected to that speaker, and it was actually very, very simple setup which really worked for this occasion. It’s maybe not as sophisticated and for bigger halls it wouldn’t be enough, but for that purpose it was almost perfect. What else can I say about this folding keyboard? Yes, it fits in a backpack. You can really take it anywhere. We once climbed the, what’s that word, TV tower in Vilnius.
A: Actually, we did not climb it. We took an elevator.
A: I don’t think we would be able to climb up (laughs).
V: You should keep a secret and tell us that we climbed.
A: Oh, okay.
V: With rope.
A: Sorry, sorry!
V: Yes. And that was really fun. Another occasion, I actually climbed, yes with all those stairs to Vilnius University St. John’s Church bell tower. With hundreds of stairs. This is the tallest building in Vilnius old town. It was quite windy and I played quite a few Inventions by Bach.
A: Yes actually I was quite worried because it was a really windy day. I thought you might not survive. (laughs)
V: My camera was actually shaking.
V: But it was really okay. I was surprised. I was surprised that it worked. So…
A: And actually on this kind of keyboard you can take it on vacation if you won’t lose your good shape, because you can already do some work on it, some manual work on it.
V: Yes, so imagine if the total length when unfolded is four octaves, so when you fold it in half, it’s two octaves. So that’s how big is this - only two octaves size. Whereas actually 88-keyboard, folding keyboard is actually also two octaves long, but it folds twice, you see?
V: When you have a long version, you have to have a very long table to fit all those octaves. So I don’t think it would work for organ music.
A: Sure not. More just like a toy.
V: Yeah, so 49 keys is quite enough, especially for keyboard-oriented music without pedals, I mean. One thing that I wish is that people would come up with some kind of roll-up pedalboard, silicone pedalboard, like we had roll-up piano, right, 61 notes. Which wasn’t very comfortable to play because you had to press very hard sometimes. But I could imagine if we had a roll-up pedalboard, your feet actually could handle that strength needed, right? Easily.
A: Of course, because feet are stronger than hands.
V: Yes, and it would fit actually in your backpack, entire organ setup, both manuals, if you use folding keyboard, and pedals - that would be amazing.
A: And since so many people complain that they cannot afford to play the real pedalboard at home and they still want to have some pedalboard at home, I think that would be a great solution, too.
V: Yes, because I’ve seen there is this folding pedalboard which folds in half. Two octaves, right? They fold in half. It’s like, it fits in a large suitcase. But still…
A: But still it’s a lot.
V: Clunky and a big chunk if you want to travel. But if it could roll out like a silicone thing on the floor, that would be amazing. So thank you so much guys, for these questions. We love helping you grow. Please send us more of them. It’s fun to answer them during our podcast. 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.
Our Hauptwerk Setup: