"Dear Vidas and Ausra,
I am 56 years old and I have been playing organ for three years. I used to play the violin and piano before but not to an advanced level so I am finding the organ playing very hard. I practice for 1 ½ hours a day or more and I am improving but very slowly.
Do you think it is possible for me to study organ at my age or is it too difficult for me? Sometimes I wish to study longer when I have the time but either my neck is hurting or my back is hurting etc. It is not easy when you get older. Sometimes I just feel like giving up.
I am studying on my own as there is a big shortage of organ teachers in Malta so I find your emails and videos very useful. I downloaded some pieces a few days ago with fingering from your website. I find fingering very difficult as I do not have enough experience so these edited pieces with fingering written in are a blessing for me.
Thank you for your videos and emails."
Listen to our answer at #AskVidasAndAusra 5
If you want us to answer your questions, post them as comments to this post and use a hashtag #AskVidasAndAusra so that we would be able to find them.
When you practice, miracles happen.
Vidas and Ausra
(Get free updates of new posts here)
Vidas: Hello guys this is Vidas
Ausra: and Ausra
Vidas: and today is episode number 5 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast; and today's question was posted by Joanna. Joanna is 56 years old and she asks, "Is it not too late for her to start learning the organ?" Because she noticed how difficult sometimes it is for her to play. Her neck and her back hurts. So, this was her question. What do you think, Ausra?
Ausra: Well, I remember she mentioned that she plays some musical instruments, yes? So, I think, piano, yes? And flute, am I right?
Vidas: It could be yeah. Could be.
Ausra: Yeah, so you know, because she had played piano in her life, I don't think it would be so hard for her to play the organ because still it's a keyboard.
Vidas: Yeah! Do you remember we have a few students who are above 50 and even 60, right?
Vidas: For example, one is Regina in our Unda Maris studio. How old is she, by the way?
Ausra: Well, she's about to retire, so she's about 60 years old.
Vidas: Uh huh. 60 years old, and even more. So when she started playing was maybe six years ago, right?
Vidas: About in her mid-50s I would say.
Ausra: And she also had some experience playing piano before, like during her childhood.
Vidas: Yeah, and she had a great dream to master those eight little preludes and fugues. And by now she can play six of them.
Vidas: I think only two of them are left: G Major, right?
Vidas: And what, A Minor?
Ausra: A Minor, yes.
Vidas: Uh huh. And she makes constant progress. She might have a few problems and challenges like everyone else, but she never stops progressing and practicing.
Ausra: Of course you have to take care of herself while practicing, you don't have to play for a very long time and have to exercise, to relax her muscles. Because yes otherwise your back will hurt.
Vidas: Yeah. So it's better to take frequent breaks, right?
Vidas: One technique I found very useful was Pomodoro Technique, where you practice for 25 minutes, and then take five minute break. And again you can practice later for 25 minutes and then five minute break. And if you do this, you can even practice for a few hours without getting tired.
Ausra: Yes. And you know, it's not because of your age. I think you can hurt yourself, your muscles, your back, even at very young age if you practice without thinking what you are doing, actually. Because they have many students at my school where I teach, they suddenly do something with for example their arms, and they cannot play anymore. Sometimes they even have to quit school, because they overuse the arms.
So I think sometimes age can be actually, in her advantage, can help you because the more mature you get, the more intelligent your practice becomes. Because you can control yourself better than at a very young age.
Vidas: Right. Because kids, the kids usually don't have that focus level of maturation; well, some of them do, but not many of them.
Ausra: Because for example, you tell your students all the time, "Don't practice your piece throughout; don't play from the beginning to end, just take, pick up a few hard spots and practice those parts. And then you play it throughout." But they never listen, they just keep playing from the beginning to the end. And those parts that are easy, are becoming even easier, and those hard spots don't make enough progress with them. But if you are more mature and you know what you're doing, then it’s for you to understand what you have to do first. And don't waste time.
Vidas: Yes. So if you are in a situation like Joanna today, I hope you will not give up. Because just yesterday I wrote an email answer to a beginner organist who was in his 90s. 90 years old. And a few weeks ago, I also wrote and answered him to another 90s old, over 90 years old organist. So we have students like that.
The most important thing is probably for you to be better than yourself yesterday. Today better than yesterday. That's all we need to think about, that's all we need to compare ourselves to.
Ausra: And I think all that learning experience, it should give you joy and excitement. And it's a very good therapy, I would say.
Vidas: Yeah, at this age playing organ also prevents many diseases, illnesses like Alzheimer's, it helps with other things ... because your brain is constantly working and exercising. Brain is like a muscle in a way, right? You need to work out.
Ausra: And you know, I guess that your final goal is not to be virtuoso like Mozart. It’s OK.
Vidas: Just enjoy the privilege of practicing. Wonderful. So this episode was brought to you by our Total Organist program, and Joanna is also taking a free trial of this program and downloading many fingering and pedaling scores we provide. Because at this age, people are eager to learn new things; but if you don't have experience at writing fingering and pedaling, it will take ages for you to learn something, right? Because you even don't know if you are on the right track.
Vidas: So that's why we are dumping all our scores and all our training into Total Organist now. Whatever we create, we are putting and publishing in the Total Organist section so that people who are most eager to learn, and our most loyal subscribers - because that's what it is, Total Organist, they can really take advantage of them, and get better faster than they would do on their own.
So 30 days for free, you can try it out right now. It’s very good deal. It's the most comprehensive organ training program online.
Thanks for listening, guys. This was Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: And remember: when you practice,
Ausra: Miracles happen.