Yesterday I received this message from John:
Thanks for this article, my favorite dialogue piece is the Grand Choeur Dialogue by Eugene Gigout! It is a wonderful piece, with a contrasting musical conversation between the solo tuba (or trumpet) and the full great organ. I heard Thomas Heywood play this piece live at St Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide South Australia in 2013, and it was a stunning performance! He plays it so energetically and skilfully! Many of the organists on YouTube tend to play it quite slowly and it almost sounds like humongous monster dragging itself along, whereas Thomas played it more like two playful lambs frolicking around in the green grass.
The sound of the tuba (I think its on 12 inches pressure) was just an incredible experience, it was a sound you could feel, and the reverberation of the cathedral just added to the drama.
It was also very impressive to see Thomas playing the double octave pedal line (as you wrote about yesterday), as Thomas has cameras set up so you can see live footage of his feet and hands on a projector screen down the front of the church. It is almost impossible for me to imagine how someone can play this so fast, so precise, so fluently! He truly is a master.
Here are my thoughts on this subject:
I can feel that many of my subscribers would have similar thoughts when it comes to watching and listening to master organists play. Their skills almost seem supernatural to people who haven't progressed that far yet. Whenever I watch Sietze de Vries improvise, I feel the same thing.
However, it's crucial that we watch these videos and listen to recitals in order not to be intimidated by them but to be inspired (I've gotten better at this over the years too). Sure, everyone understands that it takes years to become this level organist and many people choose to believe they don't have that kind of patience to study for so long before they can see the results they want. And yet, organ practice is a journey and every day of this journey brings something exciting, something new, something we can be proud of.
To any of my subscriber's who feel intimidated by the performances of master organists: do your skills have increased within the past 6 months? And if the answer is yes, then you know you are on the right track. And what's even more fascinating to me is the understanding that what you will do in the NEXT 6 months from now will dramatically impact your playing level as well.
I congratulate John! He's is an amazing action taker. I have no doubt that his upcoming 6 months will show incredible results.
Ann wrote to me yesterday:
I was delighted to open the sight reading music yesterday and find Bach’s Trio Sonata I. It is fun to read through and will be my next to work with in depth. I am presently working with my coach on the BWV 529 and should finish it in 2-3 weeks. Have you thought of developing a course for the Trio Sonatas? Also, have you thought of courses on the concertos? I am having fun, challenges, and delightful times with your courses. Thank you!
While Ann is delighted to find a familiar and interesting piece from my sight-reading menu, I'm even more delighted to know that people ARE taking action and practicing what I share. No matter what your current skill level is, no matter if you can only play one voice at a time - this is great! You can use this material to progress at YOUR pace.
For people like Ann who are interested in Trio Sonatas: my Left Hand Training and Two-Part Training from Total Organist program are exclusively based on these gems. Trio Training might come in the future as well.
It's amazing to see what kind of difference you can make when you practice a single melodic line at a time. Your fingers will get stronger and stronger, your pedal technique - more precise. And the speed - the speed is a very relative thing - fast tempo is achieved by slow practice.
Today's sight-reading piece is the 1st movement (p. 2) of Organ Sonata No.7, Op.25 by Hans Fährmann (1860–1940) - a German composer of Romantic music and organist.
Let's be inspired and not intimidated by advanced music. Imagine yourself being a virtuoso! Curiosity and wise practice will do the rest.
What do you think?
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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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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.