If I learn to play
The organ well, will the frogs
Stop running from me?
Today's question was posted by Huu. He wants to play the organ well. It's such a broad question, isn't it? We all want that. And what does "well" mean exactly?
But we did offer some steps you can take.
Listen to our full answer at #AskVidasAndAusra
Please send us your questions. We love helping you grow.
Vidas: We're starting 28th episode of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. Today's question was sent by Huu and he wants to know how to play the organ well. That's a very broad question, right Ausra?
Ausra: It is.
Vidas: It's like basically everything about the organ, right?
Ausra: Sure. We also want to play organ well, actually.
Vidas: Yeah. We can't really say that we have achieved this goal. We constantly need to practice and strive for perfection.
Ausra: It's a lifelong goal.
Vidas: Pursuit, right?
Ausra: Pursuit, yes.
Vidas: What, do you think, would be this first step in order to become better at playing the organ?
Ausra: Practice every day. And then to practice in the correct manner.
Vidas: What if you don't have a teacher? Let's say, imagine you're self taught. Can you become a better organist than yesterday?
Ausra: Sure. You can do that. Nowadays, you have all kind of new materials, but I think the main teacher is your ear, so always listen to what you are doing. Record yourself.
Vidas: And play it back.
Vidas: Right, because when you record yourself, it's so much different than what you hear, how you're playing. You might be thinking, your articulation is okay. Your rhythm is okay. Everything might be quite okay for you, but you don't know how other people hear you from the side when they listen. When you record and you become the listener of yourself when playing back, then probably that's, this recording will tell you the truth.
Vidas: Recordings never lie.
Ausra: Yes and you might not like your recording at that time but don't give up. Just keep practicing.
Vidas: Have you ever recorded yourself, Ausra?
Ausra: Sure. Of course. Many times.
Vidas: Did you like it, how it sounded?
Ausra: Most of the times, no, I did not like it.
Vidas: What did you do then? Did you break the recorder or throw away this recording or stop playing or start crying or what?
Ausra: No. I just kept practicing.
Vidas: You didn't say, "Oh, I will never play the organ again?"
Ausra: No, I did not.
Vidas: Good for you.
Ausra: What about you?
Vidas: I remember recording myself and I really thought that it sounds well. Like a performance suitable for CD, but then when I recorded myself, I think it might have been C Major Toccata, Adagio and Fugue by Bach. It was so much worse than I thought. The tempo was not equal. The articulation was sort of off. Everything was sloppy, I would say. I was preparing for a competition then, so I went back and practiced really slowly and the results were a little bit better each time.
Vidas: Ausra says the first step is practice every day.
Vidas: Try to be better than yesterday. Today try to be better than yesterday. Tomorrow try to be better than today, right?
Vidas: This is what's called deliberate practice, by the way. You are not just practicing, you are striving to become better. You have a goal, what to do with your time today.
Ausra: You've got to set your short-term goals and then long-term goals.
Vidas: That would be like step number two, probably.
Vidas: What an example of short term goal for you would be?
Ausra: For example, to learn a new piece.
Vidas: A completely new composition.
Vidas: Master it to be ready for a performance in front of public.
Ausra: Sure. Long-term goals could be like full-length recital.
Vidas: A short-term goal would be like what, a week from now or a month from now, probably?
Ausra: Sure, something like that.
Vidas: Long-term would be several months at least, right?
Ausra: Yes. Maybe half a year.
Vidas: Do you think, Ausra, that the people would need a third step, too?
Vidas: What be the step number three?
Ausra: What do you think yourself about the third step?
Vidas: Imagine just starting from the beginning. You you're practicing every day, right? In 67 days, you'll have a new habit of practicing. You’ll develop a new habit. You will not want to skip after 67 days. This is scientifically proven that you have to stick with your new skill for 66 or 67 days but then, afterwards, it will become easier and easier. Then, of course, you have goals, right?
Vidas: Like Ausra says, short-term and long-term goals and that's, obviously quite enough for starters, right?
Vidas: It will set you on the right path.
Ausra: In step number three, later on, try new instruments, new organs, because the organ can be a very good teacher and it can tell you how to play actually, how to improve your technique, how to adjust to a certain instrument. Actually, that's a very good way to learn. To try new instruments.
Vidas: Yeah. It's like driving a car. The more cars you have tried, the more advanced and more experienced you will become and the easier you will adjust to that car.
Vidas: The same is with organ playing. The more organs you have tried, different organs, right? Mechanical, pneumatical, electric, digital organs, anything you encounter, then the easier it will become in real life when you really have to play in public.
Vidas: Let's give, Ausra, people a bonus step, okay?
Vidas: I think the same applies to music. The more variety of organ repertoire can you learn and practice, the better you will be, right?
Vidas: The closer you will be to the ultimate total organist concept. The person who can play any type of organ piece well and can understand how it's constructed and even can recreate its model and improvise based on the model and basically spontaneously create its own music, is invincible. Try out all kinds of repertoires.
Ausra: Sure and listen to other people performing. This also will give you an idea of how to play.
Vidas: Right, because when you take a new piece, maybe sometimes it's good just to sight-read a new piece, but sometimes you want to be able to listen to the recording of other people's playing, right?
Vidas: Do you think that people could also sight-read every day? Is this helpful?
Ausra: Yes. This is very helpful.
Vidas: Right, like step number five.
Vidas: Without sight-reading, you sort of miss something very important. You see, you repeat, repeat, repeat the old material. Maybe learn something new each day, like four measures at a time. Maybe eight measures. Maybe one line depending on the time available, but if you sight-read every day, one piece a day, then it's like reading a new book, right? In one hundred books you will become a completely different person if you read that many.
Ausra: So guys, this was Ausra.
Vidas: And Vidas and remember ...
Ausra: When you practice ...
Vidas: ... miracles happen.
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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.