Vidas: Let’s start Episode 111 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. And today’s question was sent by Robert. He writes:
Hi Vidas. Robert here from Vancouver, Canada. I was wondering if it is possible to find the booklet from August Reinhard Op. 74. Heft I (so first half). I have the second half. In German it's "50 Übungs und Vortragsstücke für Harmonium”. As I mentioned I have the second half but it would be nice to get the first half too, to complete the set. It's great stuff!
Keep up the wonderful work you both do, and so now and then I keep purchasing a piece you've worked out if I can manage it. I'm still working on BWV 577. I find it hard to get it fast and smooth. Slowly! Blessings, Robert
First of all, Ausra, Robert asks for the piece collection and etudes, basically exercises, for harmonium. And I found it online, available from the publisher Heinrichshofen. And I think they have the entire set of 50 exercises here. And I will include the link in the description of this conversation, so that Robert and other people could check it out.
Ausra: Excellent. I think this should be a nice source for church organists.
Vidas: I think it’s like etudes, right?
Vidas: They are not necessarily created as chorale-based melodies or chants. As we see it in the preview, they’re like short preludes, basically, in many keys.
Ausra: So you could use them for preludes or postludes
Vidas: You could use them on the organ, too.
Ausra: Yes, definitely.
Vidas: Uh-huh. And they are without pedal. Excellent. So the second half of the question was something we can talk about. Robert finds it hard to get the Gigue Fugue by Bach fast and smooth. Difficult for him, right?
Ausra: Well, that’s a gigue. Gigues are all hard to play--you know, to keep a nice tempo. But maybe, you know, he wants to play too fast too soon?
Vidas: That’s my impression, too. Maybe people sometimes get frustrated with their progress and they want to advance faster than they should; they pick up the tempo sooner than they are ready.
Ausra: Yes. Of course, you know, they’re playing pieces based on dances: like gigue, gavotte, and minuet, and others. It’s very important to keep up strong and weak beats. All this pulse is necessary. It’s necessary in any piece, but especially in those that are based on dances.
Vidas: Because if you listen to pop music, right--
Vidas: They’re entirely based on dances, right? And in pop music, rhythm is the most important element.
Ausra: So, like playing the Gigue Fugue, you know, rhythm is the most important. At least, that’s my opinion about it.
Vidas: Mhm. So if Robert can play it slowly enough that he will have good pulse, is he on the right track?
Ausra: I think so, yes. Because he will add tempo later. Actually, the tempo will speed up itself.
Vidas: When he’s ready?
Ausra: Yes, that’s right.
Vidas: Are there any tricks/shortcuts to take?
Ausra: I don’t think so.
Vidas: We’re in the wrong business, right?
Ausra: Yes, yes, that’s right.
Vidas: We’re not in the business of shortcuts. If we were, we wouldn’t be here, actually, recording this, because we would have been frustrated sooner than we would have sensed the advancement of the results, and we would have quit a long time ago.
Ausra: Yes, that’s right.
Vidas: But perhaps Robert and others who are frustrated with their progress in fast pieces can enjoy moments of the entire process. Not necessarily the result, which is slow, but the process--what they have achieved today.
Ausra: Yes. And you know, this might comfort you: keep in mind that gigue is the hardest of dances to play, so it’s natural that you have some trouble now. But I hope that you will overcome those troubles.
Vidas: It seems that people like Robert sometimes get too focused on one piece, and they spend months on one piece. Is that a productive strategy?
Ausra: I think sometimes it’s better to divide your focus on several pieces.
Vidas: And practice and perfect the piece only to a basic level, right? And then go to the next piece, and to the next piece, and to the next piece; and only after a few months, he can come back to this Gigue.
Ausra: Yes; sometimes it’s good to take a break on a piece, and return back after some time.
Vidas: Tell me when you found yourself in such a situation--when the piece was frustrating for you, and you had to go to something else, something more exciting for you at the moment; and then you came back and noticed something different and more advanced.
Ausra: Yes; that’s what I’ve felt, actually, quite a few times. And sometimes it’s enough only to take a break for only like 2 or 3 days, and come back to a piece, and it’s already easy--it seems already easy.
Vidas: Like when we’re preparing for this weekend’s recital, sometimes we skip a day, right?
Vidas: And it gets better, actually, because of that. Because we play so often together, and sometimes it gets stuck in one...mode of playing. And if we give it a break, then we can come back with a fresh mind.
Ausra: That’s right.
Vidas: Sort of, we start to miss our playing then, right?
Vidas: You have to miss it. And then come back.
Ausra: Plus, also some technical things: If you are practicing day after day after day, especially in a fast tempo, things might get muddy, unclear. So sometimes it’s nice to have a rest, and come back later. And then it seems much better, much easier.
Vidas: Excellent. So guys, we hope that this advice was helpful to you. Try to apply it in your practice. And send us more of your questions, right Ausra?
Ausra: Yes! We are waiting for them!
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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