#AskVidasAndAusra 74: When I master Handel's Largo, should I continue with another early music piece or change to modern music and start at the beginning of the Ritchie/Stauffer book?”
Vidas: Let’s start now Episode 74 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. Today’s question was sent by David, and he writes, “Thank you very much for answering my question. I have the Ritchie/Stauffer book and started with Chapter 3 Early Organ Technique since I am working on Handel's Largo. I have a follow up question. When I master Handel's Largo, should I continue with another early music piece or change to modern music and start at the beginning of the Ritchie/Stauffer book?”
Ausra, do you think that people should practice simultaneously a few pieces of different stylistic periods?
Ausra: You know, if you’re just a beginner, maybe do a few pieces of the early style first, and then go the modern style, and do a few pieces of the modern style; and then you can practice them simultaneously. Because if you will begin to practice simultaneously right away, it might be too difficult for you to differentiate these two such different techniques. And what do you think about it?
Vidas: Absolutely true. And that’s the reason why Ritchie and Stauffer chose to do their book this way. They don’t mix their techniques this way, but they have one part of the book on modern technique and the second part on early technique. And actually, they start with the modern first. Do you know why, Ausra?
Ausra: I think because most organists, when they begin to play organ, they come after playing piano for many years, or at least a few years; so the modern technique is easier for those who have practiced piano before.
Vidas: True. So, for David, I think he could start working on Ritchie-Stauffer’s exercises from the Early Technique section right away; and at the end of that section he will find a few of the early music pieces suitable for that technique that he just learned, right?
Ausra: Yes. So just do the mixture of exercises and real music pieces, but learn more of early music pieces, and then go on to modern technique.
Vidas: And after that--after you have mastered a few pieces from early repertoire, a few from the modern, legato repertoire--can you learn a few of them simultaneously?
Ausra: Sure, yes; after some time you can do that. But not right at the beginning. It probably would be too hard.
Vidas: You wouldn’t recommend, like, on Mondays you do early technique, on Tuesdays…
Ausra: Well, I wouldn’t do that at the beginning. It’s not so easy to master each of them, so you might experience too much trouble.
Vidas: True. When did you first discover that you need to play several stylistically different pieces simultaneously? While at the Lithuanian Academy of Music, probably?
Vidas: When you had to play recitals…
Vidas: And people appreciate variety in recitals.
Vidas: So that’s why you need a lot of stylistic differences right away.
Ausra: But when I started to practice organ for the first two months, and it was intensive practice, I played early Baroque music--so, early technique; and that was a good thing. And then later on, I started to practice Romantic and later music.
Vidas: Me too. I remember this well. What to do for people who don’t have the Ritchie-Stauffer book? Can they still practice in a similar order?
Ausra: Sure, why not?
Vidas: Basically, early music first, probably? And then, like, modern or Romantic music later. Or vice versa, you could reverse that, if you are a better pianist.
Ausra: Yes, that’s true.
Vidas: How many pieces do you think they would need to feel comfortable with one technique at first, and ready to switch to another technique? 3, 4, 5?
Ausra: Well, it depends. For some, yes, that might be 3-4, but for some, it might be like ten pieces.
Ausra: I think it might be very different for each person.
Vidas: With every new piece in that stylistic repertoire, you will discover something new about yourself, and your instrument, and your music; it will be like a small experiment, exploration; you will feel like a scientist, exploring new, unfamiliar lands. And every tenth piece, you will probably have a small breakthrough--don’t you think, Ausra?
Ausra: Yes, I think so.
Vidas: Excellent, guys. We hope this has been helpful to you in your practice. And please send us more of your questions; we really love helping you grow as organists. 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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