#AskVidasAndAusra 102: My dream is playing in such a manner, that people who listen to it would like to hear this kind of music in the future
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"I'M A SLOW LEARNER" (And Other Answers From #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast)
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1. I‘M A SLOW LEARNER
2. I SEEM TO BE SOMEWHAT DYSLEXIC BETWEEN MY FEET AND MY LEFT HAND
3. CONVENIENCE RUBATO - SLOWING DOWN, WHEN IT GETS DIFFICULT?
4. DO YOU HAVE SOME TIPS FOR MEMORIZING EASY PIECES?
5. IS BWV 565 TOO ADCANCED FOR MY LEVEL?
6. I WOULD LIKE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SOME BACH PIECES WITH INTERESTING PEDAL PARTS THAT ARE ACCESSIBLE FOR PIANISTS
7. MY COORDINATION IS BEGINNING TO FAIL, SO I JUST STICK TO EASY, SLOWER, LESS COMPLEX PIECES
8. CAN I DOWNLOAD YOUR SCORES AT A LATER DATE?
9. THEIR WAY OF PLAYING HYMNS SOUND TIRED AND FUNERAL-LIKE
10. I'VE RECENTLY BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH AN ULNAR COMPRESSION WHICH IS AFFECTING THE SENSATION AND DEXTERITY OF MY RING FINGER AND LITTLE FINGER ON MY LEFT HAND
11. WHAT TYPE OF SHOES YOU SHOULD WEAR WHILE PLAYING ORGAN PEDALS
12. HOW TO READ BASSO CONTINUO
13. HOW TO CREATE ALTERNATE HARMONIZATIONS AND DESCANTS FOR THE LAST VERSE OF THE HYMN
14. WHAT ARE SOME TIPS FOR BUILDING UP SPEED, AND EXPECTATIONS FOR HOW LONG THIS SHOULD TAKE – WEEKS, MONTHS?
15. GIVING PRESENTS TO YOUR ORGANIST FRIEND
16. I LACK PATIENCE
17. I STRUGGLE WITH LACK OF MEMORY
18. I WOULD LIKE TO PLAY REASONABLY DIFFICULT SCORES AT FIRST GLANCE
19. I STRUGGLE WITH HIGHLY SYSTEMATIC AND LABORIOUS PRACTICE
20. LEARN TO SAY “NO”
Please let us know what will be #1 thing from our advice you will apply in your organ practice this week.
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And now let's go to the podcast for today.
Vidas: Let’s start Episode 102 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. Today’s question was sent by Paul, and he writes:
“Dear Vidas Pinkevicius, thank you first for your good and precise advices. I spend 2 weeks in Italy, so it was not possible for me to answer immediately to your question. My dream: playing in such a manner, that people who listen to it would like to hear this kind of music in the future.”
So, Ausra, it’s a very broad dream, I would say, right?
Vidas: Basically, it means, probably, to play organ in a way that people would feel compelled to come to your concert or recital or church service where you play in the future--right?
Ausra: Yes, that’s right. But it’s sort of hard to please everybody. Maybe some of your audience would fall in love with your playing; but probably not all of them.
Vidas: Definitely, because everyone has different tastes.
Vidas: And we both also have a little bit different tastes, right? Because you like some things that I like less, for example, right? Or vice versa. So that’s a perfectly normal and natural thing. Do you think, Ausra, that it’s wise to keep hoping that everybody would like your playing? Every listener?
Ausra: I would be glad if at least some of the people who came to my recital would love it.
Vidas: So when you play, for example, a recital--solo or together with me--do you think about your audience at that time, or no?
Ausra: During my exact performance?
Ausra: No, but I think about my audience before a recital, while I’m selecting pieces for my recital. Then I think about them a lot.
Vidas: And what’s your ideal listener? Do you have, so to speak, an avatar, or a character or persona in mind, for whom you would like to play? Or is it a general, symbolic person? Or maybe very specific: your friend or colleague, or a relative?
Ausra: Well, no, I don’t have that particular imagination about an exact, concrete person. But what I keep in mind: I know I’m creating in my head, a sort of image of that person who might come to my recital.
Vidas: And what is he like, in general? What kind of music does he or she like?
Ausra: Various, actually; various styles, and so I’m trying to not play just one style of music, but to add various genres from different styles. What about you?
Vidas: My opinion changed over the years. At first I felt compelled to play for a listener, an imaginary listener who would like to hear things that I like. Sort of similar to me. And because my taste also changes, this perspective also changed with the years. There was a time when I liked to play only early music, and there was a time when I liked to play only modern music; and there was a time when I liked to improvise long recitals. I’m not saying I don’t like these things anymore. I do, but not one or the other exclusively. Because if you do that, your audience is very limited, right?
Ausra: That’s true.
Vidas: You’ll maybe have an audience of one...
Ausra: Yourself, yes, haha! That’s a possibility, too!
Vidas: Maybe your family members, one or two, will come. But still I doubt it…
Vidas: Because everyone is busy, and keeping their own things in mind; and you have to think something different, right, for everyone.
Ausra: Yes, because you never know what people will expect from you. Because I have heard a few times, for example, people talking: “Oh wow, he’s playing without music score--he has such a good memory!” But then on the other hand, I also have heard such talk as, for example, with a person playing from sheet music--people went, “Wow, he can sight-read music! That’s amazing!” So you never know what people will like.
Vidas: This is a good point, because it’s pointless to try to please everybody. We can’t even begin to please, because everyone is so in their own world; and I think the best we can do is provide something of quality. Quality is very important. Quality, but to have maybe a general direction where we would like to go with our public performance. And of course, it has to have an arc: like in any story, you will have to have a beginning, middle, and an end, and nice contrast and variety. Right? So your recital also should look something like that. It should not be in one mood or one tempo or one registration, don’t you think, Ausra?
Ausra: Yes; and of course, first of all, you have to have a high standard, as you mentioned before, and you have to try to please yourself, to be happy with what you are doing.
Vidas: And also, when you play a recital, I think it’s wise to select pieces that add value to the listener, right? I think the general direction should be a mix of things from a variety, maybe, of organ schools and historical periods; because then, a person will find something that he or she will like. We have so many pieces in the repertoire, right? From seven centuries ago. And it would be nice to include something from many centuries--not all, but many.
Ausra: Yes, that’s true. And you need to play various repertoire. And that way, somebody can connect with some of the pieces that you’re playing, and another person will connect with another piece that you’re playing in your repertoire. But this rule does not apply if you’re playing on a historically oriented organ--for example, a replica of some historical instrument, or on a real historical instrument. Then you have to choose repertoire appropriate for that instrument.
Vidas: This is true for the organ, right? Because if you listen to piano recitals, every piano is more or less similar, right? It doesn’t have such variety as organ. And pianists can play basically everything on every piano, because every piano has about 88 keys. With organ it’s different. Some organs have 1 manual, some 2, some 4, some 5, or even more; and the range of the keyboard is different: 4 octaves, even 5 octaves. And the pedalboard is different: some organs have short octaves in the bass. Some even have split semitones, where D♯ is not the same as E♭, for example. So all those things have to be taken into consideration when you think about repertoire for your public performance; and also thinking about your audience, so that strangers who will come to your recital would not be bored.
Ausra: Yes. It’s very important.
Vidas: Because it’s nice to imagine you’re playing for friends who know you, who trust you, who like you. And of course, this might happen from time to time, when you are, for example, contacted to play a personal recital, a private recital for a group of friends (for a birthday party, let’s say). Then they will listen to almost anything you play. But in the majority of cases, you have another situation, right? That people will come to your recital, some of whom will never have heard about you before. And then, they have this preconceived notion about organ music: what they have heard about it in the past, what they like, sort of their preferences. And since everybody’s sort of different, it’s very difficult to please everybody this way. So Ausra, for example, our next recital when we play together in a couple of weeks, right?
Vidas: In about 2½ weeks. How do we plan this program, and what principles did we have in mind?
Ausra: Well, we played some pieces solo--just played some solo pieces and some duets.
Vidas: What we thought about it, I think, is that we’ll begin with the most pleasing musical piece that we’ve found on this program, right?
Ausra: Yes, that’s true.
Vidas: Definitely, because it’s an aria or duet from Bach’s Cantata No. 80, and we liked it so much; and we thought it would be nice to add it at the beginning. Because at the end, what did we choose?
Ausra: Sonata by Mozart.
Vidas: For 4 hands.
Vidas: And it’s a different piece, sort of loud-soft-loud registration, 3 parts, 3 movements; and it fits for the end very nicely, because it has this character of ending, at the end. So we have the beginning and the end figured out. And then in the middle--what did we do? Can you elaborate a little bit?
Ausra: Yes. We play some solo pieces--for example, I’m playing Sweelinck’s Fantasia Chromatica; and that’s a hard piece for listeners to listen to.
Vidas: Mhm. Therefore it’s not the first one, right?
Ausra: Yes. Because otherwise I’m afraid that everybody would leave, right at the beginning of our recital!
Vidas: And then, after this difficult piece, right, we again play a pleasing piece by Bach: this second aria.
Vidas: Which we arranged from the cantata. And so on. We sort of alternate between mentally difficult pieces and pleasing music; and therefore, we can also hope that our listeners will also be interested and not be bored, and be compelled to come again to our recitals, because we have this variety and contrast. Right?
Ausra: Yes, that’s right.
Vidas: And whatever you do, don’t play too long. It’s better for your recital to be too short than too long.
Ausra: Yes. It’s better that people would leave your recital longing for more music, than the other way.
Vidas: Exactly. So--wonderful, guys! Please send us more of your questions, we love helping you grow. And this was Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: And remember, when you practice…
Ausra: 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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