Yesterday during the rehearsal of our organ studio "Unda Maris" at Vilnius University, one student (she is over 50, I think) came in very different than for other times. I didn't know what it was right away but there was something different about her playing.
I came in the studio first and started all the necessary preparations - turned on the lights, the organ etc. and she came in shortly after me. After asking whether she was the first one to show up today, she sat down on the organ bench, pulled a few stops and started to play the Prelude in C major, BWV 553 from the 8 Short Preludes and Fugues that we all know so well.
What was remarkable about her is that she didn't start how many students do - with trying out a few stops, a few notes, a few passages with their hands and/or feet. She just sat down and dived right into the piece as if she was playing it before sitting down. She didn't play without mistakes, though and this is not the point I'm trying to make.
After her playing I asked her about what was different about her this time and she replied that she practiced in her mind while sitting on the bus on her way to the studio. That made sense - we all know how long it takes for our minds and bodies to warm up - at least 10-15 minutes (often even more than that) before we can start doing our regular work.
But because she had practiced on the bus in her mind, she came in to the studio very targeted with a laser-sharp focus. She knew what she has to do, she knew how it should sound etc.
I think there is an important lesson for all of us here. If you need to play in public during church service, a recital or a lesson, try to focuse your mind before it. Try to practice in your mind ahead of time the piece or the pieces you will be performing. This may mean you need to memorize your compositions.
Not only it saves time but it actually helps in performance. Interestingly, you can apply this approach in any aspect of your life, too.
Be ready before the time comes and you will never be in peril.
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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.