SOPP680: My dream is to play Buxtehude and Bach reasonably well and to be able to improvise simple but beautiful melodies for the church service
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 680 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Rolf, and he writes his answer to my question, What is his dream in organ playing right now, and also what are some obstacles in reaching this dream? So,
1. Playing Buxtehude and Bach reasonably well and being able to improvise simple but beautiful melodies for the church service.
2. Earlier there were three things: time, money and lack of knowledge. Since I am retired two things: money and lack of knowledge. I can study well on my own and there are plenty beautiful instruments in my house and churches around me.
V: We know that Rolf is from the Groningen province in the Netherlands. This is a beautiful region for organs, right?
A: Oh yes. A dream country, actually. Dreamland.
V: And he’s retired, right?
A: It means he has time, more time to practice.
V: But when you have time, you don’t have a lot of money, right? (laughs)
A: Yes, true. We have a very famous comedian, he passed a few years ago. But he would say actually that you cannot have both time and money. You can either have time or you can have money, but not both at the same time.
V: Yeah. Unless you are a royalty or inherit some kind of wealth from your ancestors. But for normal people, exactly. You are either use your time available to make more money, or if you are making enough money, you cannot make up time, because you have used it already.
A: Sure, so sometimes it’s hard to stay somewhere in the middle. Maybe to have less money but more time, and to have more time to practice, but…
V: And for musicians, actually that’s even not always true. You can
A: (laughs) Usually you just work and you don’t have no time and no money.
V: Yes, not enough money and not enough time. Which means you are simply being exploited.
A: That’s right, as we saw one t-shirt back during our studies in the United States. And the t-shirt said that an employed musician will work for food.
V: Yeah, it’s very very true for a lot of cases. And today, church musicians for example, they’re very often underpaid. Organists in general are always underpaid.
A: Because it’s often, especially I think that’s true about Catholic churches. That we think that being an organist in a church it’s some sort of, not a job, not a position, but it’s
V: Looked at like a service, no, a vocation, right?
A: Yes, like a vocation, basically. But as we know, for example, priests have some social security from the church itself. And we know if something happens to them, the church will take care of them, but organists, not. So anyway.
V: Obviously it’s because church officials rarely understand what kind of education and hard work has to go into preparing for quality music service. And often they don’t care and you can just provide background music and that’s it. Often even they have automatic music from CD players in some cases, right?
A: True. But I think for Rolf, he can just be really happy to be living in Groningen and enjoying these beautiful instruments all around him. I think even this one reason should be enough for him in order to be motivated, to stay motivated and to practice and improve, and to enjoy what he is doing.
V: And he wants to play Buxtehude and Bach reasonably well. And those are difficult
composers. In some cases, Buxtehude is less complex than Bach.
V: But not always.
A: But most of the time, yes, I would say.
V: Mm hm.
A: Even if we would compare for example just the chorale preludes or free works. They are quite different in the difficulty level.
V: Right, and they would sound beautiful on the instruments around Groningen area.
A: And in Bach’s music too, you could find some easier compositions, more accessible compositions for let’s say beginner or the medium level organist.
V: Right. So in Rolf’s case for example, if he was lacking knowledge, for example if somebody like Rolf would like to study but doesn’t know what to do, they need guidance. So what people often do, they hire a private teacher, like professional, and that costs a lot of money. And he says he doesn’t have a lot of money, right? So what we have created over the years is this resource platform for studying basically in every area of organ playing, either technical things, organ practice, sight reading, pedal playing, hymn playing, improvisation, harmony, music theory - this is called Total Organist program. We basically believe that an organist has to be total - well rounded musician, not just in one area but in many many areas.
A: True, because if you are a church musician, you need to have other skills as well. Not just be able to play the organ, but be able to choose the right music for the right liturgical time and the appropriate place in the service, and you have to know how to work with other people, because you usually have choirs or cantors. You probably have to sing yourself, which is very required skill at least in Lithuania and Poland where organist also has to sing, too, and sometimes we have to lead choirs. And it would be really nice if the organist could improvise at least a little bit or to compose compositions.
V: But we don’t see a lot of organists composing in Lithuania.
A: Oh no.
V: Somehow people are not either interested or not able, or both.
A: Could be.
V: So for Rolf and others who are thinking about things like lack of knowledge and lack of money, so they could take a look at our Total Organist program. It’s much more affordable than hiring a private teacher, but it’s a well-rounded approach and very comprehensive. I would say the most comprehensive organ training platform online.
A: Yes, so far yes.
V: It has been for a number of years now. And I don’t think anybody has succeeded creating something similar like we did, right Ausra?
A: Yes. And another suggestion I have for Rolf, because he’s surrounded by these beautiful Dutch instruments, try to take advantage of playing those instruments as much as you can, and listen to what they are telling you to do. Because actually instruments are the best teachers, because if you will use the wrong approach, you will hear it on the instrument.
V: It wouldn’t sound nicely right?
V: For example, if articulation is not nice, pipes would not speak. If you are not listening to the echo in the church, then the piece would sound rushed and chaotic a little bit, right? So the instrument itself will teach you a lot if you just listen.
A: Yes. Because usually when you are learning about things in the classroom or the practice organ and you learn all these things about articulation and right historical fingering and all that stuff, it often might not make any sense. But then you sit at the historical instrument, then you realize that, “Oh, now I know why it should be like this.”
V: Why you don’t play usually with the thumb on the sharp keys on historical instruments, right? Because it’s very inconvenient.
A: Or why you don’t use heels on the pedalboard on Baroque instruments.
V: Yes. Theoretically you might know, but it wouldn’t necessarily be so self-evident. But when you go sit on those benches of historical instruments, you will know.
A: Yes, and another suggestion for Rolf who is practicing by himself, record what you are playing and what you are doing.
V: Exactly. It’s one thing to say to yourself, “I’m doing this and this,” but it’s completely different thing to listen to the recording and discover that even though you though you did something it sounded much different in the room.
V: You have to adjust to that recording. Afterwards, make another recording, maybe five recordings. And studying from your own recording is also a practice.
A: It is, it’s a very good practice.
V: Yes. And you can share the best recordings online, too.
V: Thank you so much, guys. We appreciate your questions. We love helping you grow. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
V: This podcast is supported by Total Organist - the most comprehensive organ training program online.
A: It has hundreds of courses, coaching and practice materials for every area of organ playing, thousands of instructional videos and PDF's. You will NOT find more value anywhere else online...
V: Total Organist helps you to master any piece, perfect your technique, develop your sight-reading skills, and improvise or compose your own music and much much more…
A: Sign up and begin your training today at organduo.lt and click on Total Organist. And of course, you will get the 1st month free too. You can cancel anytime.
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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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