SOPP688: The main problem with being an organist is that you usually can't practice at home because most people don't own organs and even so...probably not a pipe organ!
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 688 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Rita, and she writes:
I am learning a lot from your episodes. I am a trained pianist but also play organ. The main problem with being an organist is that you usually can't practice at home because most people don't own organs and even so...probably not a pipe organ! There are many true organists that utilize all the stops and use both feet seamlessly. Because I now play on 4 different organs… I want to give the listeners/participants the best experience. My suggestion is to focus on the easiest registrations… easiest way of just knowing how to prepare for playing the quickest and easiest way. Practice makes perfect so my goal is to gain access to my 4 churches and devote practice time to each organ. Thank you again for your helpful lessons!
V: What do you understand from Rita's message, Ausra?
A: Well, actually, she has access to 4 different organs, and that’s very nice.
V: And she is transitioning from piano to the organ, true?
A: Yes, that’s very often the case with church musicians especially.
V: Right. And probably she wants to know how to use the stops and both feet seamlessly.
A: Yeah, that’s often the case, and a problem for pianists who start to play the organ.
V: She didn’t write what is she playing, that’s the problem.
A: What kind of those four different organs there are.
V: Yeah, with incomplete information like this, we can only just imagine, you know, make some guesses. Obviously, probably she’s not playing much organ repertoire. I would guess that she’s playing more hymns than repertoire.
A: Could be. I’m not sure.
V: Would you think that playing hymns alone she will improve with her feet and registrations?
A: Well, a little bit, yes. But not completely.
V: Mm hm. So obviously she needs more varied approach to her playing and probably to surprise her congregations with organ preludes and postludes.
V: And even communion pieces. Communions usually are soft; postludes could be loud. But preludes could be both, right?
A: Yes, depends on the occasion and on the time of year.
V: And offertories, offertories also sometimes possible to play if the choir is not present, there is more time.
A: And if she is playing during service and the organ has set-up knobs, she could do the registrations in advance.
V: You mean like combinations?
A: Combinations, yes. And for example, if she plays from four different organs, I don’t know how different they are. But on those instruments that have combinations, she needs to have it set up, at least a few levels during the service that would help her during the service to be quick and efficient in changing registrations. That would be good for solo pieces and also for hymn accompanying.
V: I found in my improvisations on Hauptwerk at home that if I set up in advance six different dynamic levels plus some solo registrations, let’s say four more solo registrations, that will be already a little bit of variety to the pieces that they play. So those six levels could be pianissimo, piano, mezzo piano, mezzo forte, forte, and fortissimo. Fortissimo could mean full organ, correct?
V: And then let’s say four different solo combinations could mean let’s say oboe in one hand, flutes in another hand; depends on some other reeds or solo stops that she has, but let’s say cornet would be nice. Cornet in the right hand part and a principal in the left hand part. Plus of course soft 16 and 8 foot stops in the pedals. Number 3 could be trumpet.
A: Yes, trumpet would be nice.
V: Trumpet against principal or two. And Number 4 - what do you think - probably softer.
A: Yes of course.
V: Suggest one, please.
A: Soft registration?
V: With solo combination.
A: Well if you have Vox Humana, I would use Vox Humana with tremulant.
A: for a solo voice, and accompany with a soft flute.
V: That could be Number 4. If you have a little bit more, you could create mutations like Flute 8 and Nazard 2 ⅔ with tremulant against one little flute. That’s very beautiful. And things like that. You just experiment a little bit. Make one hand a little bit louder and accompaniment a little bit softer. Right? And you set up those combinations in advance, and when the time comes to play your piece or a hymn verse, you just press the button, the piston or toe stud if you have toe studs, and it’s easy then. But you have to practice those changes also. Don’t leave it for the performance day, unless you have lots of experience in playing different organs and changing registrations, those things have to be practiced diligently just as much as the pieces themselves. Okay. What else can we suggest?
A: Well, I think it is very happy that she has access to four different instruments, because that means she can learn to play on four different instruments at the same time. It’s very nice. Good experience for any organist. Because usually, some organists just stuck up on one instrument and then sometimes we have a problem adjusting to a new instrument when we have a chance of it.
V: Do you think four different organs means four different places also?
A: Yes. That’s a lot of driving or walking.
V: That’s a nice variety in acoustics, too.
A: Yes. But if it’s America, there might be no acoustics in those places, but I’m not sure.
V: We don’t where she is living, right?
A: Yes. But of course acoustics also adds to performance and how you play, what kind of tempo you select, and all that other stuff.
V: Yeah. And record yourself. That’s really important if you want to improve. Listen to your recordings as a listener, not as a player, but as a CD. Like, would you like to listen to such a CD when you record yourself. And if not, what’s wrong, how to improve it. If you be very specific, you can improve faster then.
A: Yes, recording is a very good suggestion, Vidas.
V: Thank you. So I think that should be helpful for starters. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: 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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