Vidas: We’re starting Episode 47 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. And today’s question was sent by Pat, and he writes that he has a challenge that’s holding him back, which is: in general, he has forgotten the basics of organ playing through all those years of not touching the instrument (I think 15 years of not touching the instrument). And not only the basics, but both hands facilitating technique, and also the theoretical knowledge of flats and sharps and other things about music theory. Do you think, Ausra, that people often come to organ practice after a long period of time of not touching the instrument?
Ausra: Yes, that could be the case, of course, but I think he should not lose his hope, because I think refreshing memory and regaining all those skills is probably easier than to build those skills at the beginning.
Vidas: Mhmm. Now that he is really taking advantage of the situation, and really thinks that, “Oh, I must regain those skills and must start to practice the efficient way,” it will come to him, slowly but definitely.
Ausra: Yes, if he will be, you know, regular at his work, and will practice regularly.
Vidas: It’s like our friend John from Australia. He learned some music in school when he was little, but he was not very serious about that; and then later in life, he did many other things, and forgot, of course, a lot of musical training that he had in his youth. And only now after decades of not touching an instrument, he started to develop this organ playing habit. And we see over time how he progresses, and it’s fascinating.
Ausra: Yes, he is definitely fascinating. He’s such a hardworking man, and also good to his family, and still finds time to practice. It amazes me every time, when I think about him.
Vidas: He has so many responsibilities, of course. His job is 8 to 5 probably, and--
Ausra: Two small kids at home...
Vidas: Two small kids!
Ausra: ...And just moved to another location in Australia. So all these domestic problems--And it works…
Vidas: But what motivates him is probably those internal and external deadlines he sets up, because he sometimes plays hymns and organ music for his church; and he knows that people depend on him, week by week, so he better get ready!
Ausra: So maybe Pat could find like, a small position, maybe--you know, just to play once a month, let’s see--
Vidas: Volunteer, or…?
Ausra: Volunteer, yes.
Vidas: In exchange for an instrument?
Vidas: Or getting access to an instrument.
Ausra: And it will keep him going, refreshing his memory faster. To regain his skills.
Vidas: It would be like a practicum, like a practice. It’s not a job, but it’s something like getting experience of public playing. At first it will be terrifying, of course; but you have to know that taking those risky, uncontrollable situations at first very small--when the risk is small; but raising the stakes a little bit...That you know somebody else is listening in the room is very healthy, actually, in the long run.
Ausra: I think so, too.
Vidas: And little by little, Pat will regain those skills that he lost over 15 years of not touching the instrument. Ausra, how long does it take, do you think, for a person who didn’t play the organ over this time, to get back to this previous level?
Ausra: I would say probably about a year.
Vidas: A year?
Vidas: That’s not a very long time.
Ausra: Yes, that’s not a very long time. Of course, if you practice more, maybe you’ll regain your shape faster, maybe in half a year.
Vidas: Yeah, if you’re a professional at this, and you dedicate 2, 3, or more hours a day, that’s possible to do this in a few months… But slowly, I think; don’t overextend yourself, because it’s a long-term activity, and you have to first of all enjoy it.
Ausra: Yes, definitely. It will be your motivation, if you will enjoy what you are doing. Because if you are only struggling, that might give you a big disappointment, and you will drop practicing at all.
Vidas: And Ausra, when you say that a person like Pat might regain his skills in one year, right--
Ausra: I hope so.
Vidas: More or less. It doesn’t mean that in a month, or two, or three months from now, he will be in the same situation as he is now. He definitely will start seeing progress down the road.
Vidas: Soon enough.
Ausra: That’s true, yeah. And seeing that development, that improvement, it will give him extra motivation to improve even further.
Vidas: Yes. Basically, keep working on this challenging episode, and sooner or later you will overcome this challenge - and you will move on to the next challenge, of course!
Vidas: Thanks, guys, for listening to this. We sincerely hope we can help you grow as an organist. And of course, the best way is to send more of your questions. Maybe you have different questions than Pat; so please send us your questions, and remember to subscribe to our blog and then reply to our messages at www.organduo.lt.
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.
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.