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And now let's go to the podcast for today.
Vidas: Let’s start Episode 97 of #AskVidasAndAusra podcast. And today’s question was sent by Rivadavia, from Brazil. And she has a problem that she doesn’t have enough time to practice. So Ausra, what do you do when you don’t have time to practice?
Ausra: Well, I try to find time to practice. But whatever you do, if you know that you have a performance coming up, prepare in advance.
Vidas: Imagine you work at school from 8 o’clock until 6 o’clock--or at least 4 o’clock, right? And after school’s over, you’re very tired. But you know your recital’s coming up. Will you be able to practice that day?
Ausra: Well, sometimes yes and sometimes no.
Vidas: Do you beat yourself up when you don’t practice that day?
Ausra: Actually no, because sometimes you just have to rest, in order to practice well the next day. Because if you are too tired to practice, then it will not be a good practice.
Vidas: That’s right.
Ausra: And if it’s not a good practice, then I think it’s better to not practice at all.
Vidas: You don’t have this inner feeling of frustration with yourself, like “Oh, you skipped practice, you’re a bad person and you will go to hell!”?
Ausar: Hahaha! Sometimes I do get that feeling, but not always. At least when I cannot practice because I’m just too tired, then no, I don’t have that feeling that I will go to hell. But if I don’t practice because I am too lazy that day, then yes.
Vidas: For example, today--are you lazy or are you tired?
Ausra: Well, actually I have a cold right now, so…
Vidas: You’re sick?
Vidas: Me too. So our voices are not in the best condition today. But still we can give you some pointers and tips and advice on how to behave in this situation, when you feel you don’t have enough time. For the most part, Ausra, do people really not have enough time, or do they say they don’t have time?
Ausra: Hmm, could be both ways.
Vidas: Both, right. You see, when a person skips practice, he gives a reason, right? And the reason for everybody to know is that, for example, Rivadavia doesn’t have enough time to practice. But the real reason might be something else, right?
Ausra: Yes, that’s true.
Vidas: I’m not saying that it is like this, but it often happens that we keep our most private thoughts and reasonings and excuses to ourselves, right? And what happens is, we want to look good in front of other people; and we say we don’t have time.
Ausra: That’s true. I remember one show that we had in Lithuania a few years ago. There was one person from the bank who would teach families actually how to save money. And what she would do is, she would come to the family, and at the end of the week, all members of the family must supply her with receipts and checks and all those things that they had spent money on. And then she would make sure if all those purchases were necessary. And she would teach people how to save money--how to not get unnecessary things, and…save! So that’s what I think would happen with each of our schedules: if we would write down what we’ve spent time on, I’m sure we would find unnecessary things that we do.
Vidas: There is an app--or a few apps, now--online, where you can check your online activities, what you’re working on on your laptop or even on your phone. And when people say, “Oh, I’m just checking my Facebook for a second,” or just text or email, or look at a YouTube video for 3 minutes--what happens sometimes is that we don’t notice. We become so captivated by that activity, immersed, that we simply forget the passing of time.
Ausra: That’s true. I think probably the worst time killer is a smartphone nowadays, with all its Facebooks and Twitters and all those internet sources. And of course TV too, for some people...
Vidas: Mhmm, but I think online activities are getting more prominent.
Vidas: So you really have to be very strict with yourself, because only you can control yourself. No app can really change your habits, actually. It’s just a game with yourself, right?
Vidas: It’s a game. For some people it might be necessary to do this extraneous checking that you’re on the right task. But really what it comes down to is your inner motivation for each day--are you living fully each day, or are you not?
Vidas: With each moment, we have a choice, right Ausra?
Ausra: That’s true.
Vidas: For example, today: what we’re doing now, we could be doing with a thousand different things, right? But we chose to record this teaching video.
Vidas: Ausra, is it a wise choice?
Ausra: I hope so!
Ausra: I think it’s right to help somebody.
Vidas: That’s right; we really hope our teachings can help you grow as an organist--and as a person, too, because it’s a total personality development, I think. So what you can do with the passing of time is to have a stricter look at yourself, with your activities first, right? Where your time goes.
Ausra: Yes, that’s right.
Vidas: What else, Ausra?
Ausra: Well, I don’t know, there might be different possibilities how you could have extra practice time. Maybe get up half an hour earlier in the morning and do your practice, or do it during lunchtime.
Vidas: Mhm. Those hours, or minutes, where nobody’s disturbing you with some tasks or activities, are very precious, right? Set some boundaries, because sometimes your coworkers will come up to you and ask you for something, or a friend might call you and ask for your attention. But if you turn off your phone at that time, or turn off notifications on your phone, then you’re free to do whatever you set out to do. And then you can focus for at least 15 minutes, and that’s good for starters, right?
Vidas: If anything happens, you know that that day you already practiced and fully accomplished something of value for 15 minutes.
Ausra: And of course, if you don’t have much time to practice, you must know in advance what you will be working on that day. Just pick 1 piece, or maybe even one spot--one page or half a page of that piece, and practice only that spot.
Vidas: Right. Ausra, do you think that people should learn how to say “no”?
Ausra: Yes, that’s true. Some of us just have too many activities.
Vidas: Too many.
Vidas: Too many things to do...
Ausra: Yes I know.
Vidas: During the day. And not all of them are of equal value.
Ausra: I know, I’m already panicking about my November schedule. Because I agreed to teach sort of a course, a seminar, for church organists, on harmonizing hymns. And then I have to play a joint recital together with you...
Ausra: On November 18th. And then I also agreed to lead a concert, actually, as a musicologist, and to speak about keys--about different keys, and what they mean in music.
Vidas: Interesting topic.
Ausra: So yes, that’s a very interesting topic; but on top of that I have to teach twenty-seven hours each week, and to grade papers, and do all that stuff. So that will be a challenging thing to do.
Vidas: Well, at least you know that these activities are worth your time, right? Those harmony courses for community organists.
Vidas: For church organists. It’s worth doing, probably.
Ausra: Well, I hope so.
Vidas: We hope so. What else? I think when you say “no” to something, you can earn the privilege to say “yes” to something that is of value to your goals, to your vision. And you have to have as strong vision for the future--what you want to accomplish in 3, 5, 10 years, as an organist, as a person. And each day, take those simple steps, and maybe get better at one particular area at least 1%; because it compounds over time.
Ausra: That’s true.
Vidas: Every day. So, this is our daily advice. And now of course, we will go to practice later in the day, because to give you advice and to not take that advice ourselves would be counterproductive. That would be lying to ourselves, right?
Vidas: So we will definitely practice for our upcoming recital today, too. And please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. 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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