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 684 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Scott, and he writes
My dream is to be able to play well enough that what I'm playing is recognizable. You see, I was once a church organist for 20+ years, until I had my first stroke on January 1, 1999. Two more strokes followed in 2013, so I have had 2 strokes paralyzing my dominant right side and 1 stroke weakening my left side and making it greatly uncoordinated. Now I play for physical therapy, but I can't find any easy music for my left hand and left foot alone!
So he writes further:
1. Finding music
2. Adapting existing music
3. Maintaining correct technique while I learn how to play in a new way, and being able to recognize that a given piece is not meant for me to play but to be satisfied with just listening to it being played by another.
V: Do you remember, Scott wrote this message awhile ago, and I think we talked about it and I’d written to him some messages. He’s from Facebook and he’s very actively engaging with our postings there and videos.
A: Yes, I remember.
V: Scott. And basically, he can only practice with one hand and one foot - left hand and left foot. At first I actually advised him to look into hymn playing, play the right hand - the soprano with the hand and the bass with the foot, left foot. What do you think about this idea?
A: Yes, it should work. But if for example you were a good organist, you could play all kinds of repertoire and you served for the church for more than 20 years, then I understand his stress, and I pity him for not being able to do and to play what he used to play, and to do what he used to do. But such is our life, full of complications and all these difficult moments, so I guess you just have to adjust. Of course, you have to adjust to the idea that you will never be able to play as you did, because you will hardly be able to get your health back, and I think many people struggle with it. And if he would search online, I guess he would find many many people who struggle with the same problems.
V: Yes, maybe not necessarily same hand, same foot, but strokes can paralyze your activities on one side or another side on a lesser degree or greater degree, right? Gradually you can regain the movement or not. It depends on your own situation, right? I was thinking along the lines of involving video equipment also. So that, imagine that he can use one limb, left hand not necessarily even the pedals. Left hand he can do still simple melodies or relatively uncomplicated melodies, right? So imagine a trio, like a chorale prelude from the Baroque period, but you only have one hand. What I would do, or at least I would try to do and see if it works - I would record myself playing one hand, just one part, let’s say the right hand part. And then play it back in my headphones and then record the second part, maybe the middle part with the same hand on a different registration. And now I will have two tracks: two video tracks and two audio tracks also. And then the third track would be the pedal part, played exactly with the same hand as before but with pedal registration. So only having one limb, you could imagine that you are playing a real trio. We all know it’s not a real trio, but it will sound like a real trio, right? It’s still better than not playing at all, because you’re still making music and enjoying it. The only problem is I don’t know if Scott is proficient enough in managing multiple video angles, camera angles and putting them all into some software which could be put on the screen, like three or even four - you could play four-part chorales like this as well. Or just right hand, left hand and pedals if it’s not polyphonically complex music. And you would have three portions of the screen, for each dedicated to one particular track. And Scott alone would be playing entire piece, but from three different angles. What do you think?
A: Yeah, I think that’s a great idea, and maybe if he has some younger relatives who could help him…
A: …with all this technical equipment, to help edit his videos and put all the different parts together.
V: Yes, we have done this before, remember, with James Flores.
A: Yes, we played the first trio sonata by J.S. Bach. I played the right hand, Vidas played the left hand, and James played the pedals, and put it all together.
V: Two different continents - Europe and Australia.
A: Yes, it was very exciting.
V: So now technology allows you to make all kinds of technological tricks, but you still are making music and letting others enjoy it. He has one video, Scott has one video on his Facebook profile where he plays with his one hand and one foot. So yes, he could share the same video on his profile or even YouTube if he wants, and keep making music as long as he can.
A: Yes, everything is possible.
V: That’s what I would try to do. But of course I would need to get over the fact that I would never do the organ playing the way I used to. Something has to be changed, adapt, make compromise, right?
A: Yes, such is life.
V: Yeah, people who are willing to change and adapt, they will find a way out of many difficult situations. So thanks very much, Scott. 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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