By Vidas Pinkevicius (get free updates of new posts here)
Ausra and I are in our summer cottage right now. It's beautiful out there and it's good to escape the noise of the city. Very green.
This morning while I was helping prepare the bread that Ausra's parents will bake in an oven with a real fire-wood I was listening to James Altucher's conversation with stand-up comic and actor Jim Morton. At the end of it, Jim shared his 3 steps in being a better comedian.
Afterwards I thought about what would it take for someone to master the art of organ improvisation. So here are my 3 steps:
1. Write down musical ideas every day. Have an idea notebook. Take it with you everywhere you go. Use it for sketches or complete compositions. Doing this on computer isn't very practical at least to me. I have to have a physical thing in my hands to hold. I use Sibelius for something else. But maybe I'm different from you.
2. Perform live every day. I don't suppose you have the privilege to play for a church service every day. That would be an exciting musical laboratory for you (and funny thing is so many organists I know don't even think about it). Also playing recitals every day is kind of above the limits of a mortal person. But you certainly can live-stream your improvisations wherever you practice on FB with your phone. This counts too. You get a built-in live audience and immediate feedback.
3. Record yourself and watch/listen to it. It's difficult to watch yourself play. Sometimes I'm so embarrassed that I can't stand listening my own pieces. But you have to. It's very important for growth. Learning from your own failures and successes. In one hour of improvisation I might find 3 minutes of music worth writing down for composition. That's a lot, actually. Many times, I don't. But it's not for me to decide, you know. My job is just to do it. I don't filter anything. Good or bad. I don't care.
So just write down, show up and learn.
That's all for now. Have to finish editing and uploading the podcast.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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.