As an organist, what are you actually required to do?
Playing the organ in church or in recitals is only a part of our duties as organists. I say - a smaller part.
Another, more important part which may not be immediately apparent is communication.
Communication with our listeners. Communication with our employer.
I think that real practicing and performing is only 30 percent of our responsibilities. Another 70 percent is communication.
Very often an organist goes to church, turns on the organ, plays the hymns, preludes, and postludes or accompanies the choir, turns off the organ, and goes home. But then wonders why no one is listening to the prelude and postlude or why the priest/pastor complains that either the organ was too loud or the hymn was too fast or whatever.
Or an organist shows up for recital, performs the pieces on the program, bows, leaves, and then wonders why so few people have come to the event and from those who came, not a single one came up to the organ balcony to share their experience of the recital.
I'm not saying that you have to put less work into practice and performance. But I certainly think that communication about our practice and performance needs to be improved.
It's an investment. The more effort you extend into communicating the right kind of stories and your behind-the-scene work - the better your work will be appreciated by the right kind of people.
But never approach communication as human spam. It's not a one-way blast of information. It's a two-way conversation where one of the most important tasks is listening and empathy - understanding the people before you actually meet them.
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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.