Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 141 of #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast. This question was sent by Peter. He writes:
“I think the amount of time we waste on things which are of no benefit is frightening. I wonder why? What makes the difference between the things you want to do (like eating tasty food, lying in bed, drinking to excess, wasting time on the computer etc.) and the things which you ought to do (practicing the organ, eating healthy food, getting to bed early, getting up early!) etc? An interesting psychological question. I suspect that a great deal of the answer is forming the correct habits, from an early age. The more you put into life, the more you get out of it.”
So Ausra, we all know this situation, right?
A: Yes, that’s so human-like.
V: We love to procrastinate, to do things that are not necessarily worthy but are pleasant. What’s the reason for this, do you know?
A: Well, I think it’s just human nature in itself that we seek pleasure in immediate gratification. It’s probably takes more satisfaction to eat tasty food which is not healthy like french fries or hamburgers and sweets instead of eating vegetables 5 times a day. But I think it’s important to force yourself to do other things, like practicing organ or going to bed early or eating healthier, I think looking to that final result of things.
V: Which is what?
A: Or further results, like playing recital or everybody praising you or lowering your blood pressure and exercising.
V: But you see, Ausra, the final result for all of us is what? Death.
A: Well, yes, if you would love from that perspective but since most of organists are Christian or at least I think so, you don’t think that with your death things will be over.
V: So that’s why you need to eat vegetables 5 times are day and that’s why you need to floss your teeth.
A: No, you do it just to make your life longer.
V: I see what you mean now.
A: I know, you’re making fun out of me.
V: Not only out of you. I do this too so I’m making fun out of myself too. You see, I agree with you, it’s so difficult. We as humans tend to seek pleasure and tend to avoid pain. Two things in life. And not only humans - every animal. Every single our ancestor does this instinctively, right?
A: Yes, I think so.
V: But the difference with humans is we have so-called free will which not everyone believes we have.
A: Yes, some people believe in predestination.
A: And that the choices are made for us from probably above.
V: If you look from the scientific point of view, you could also argue that the world is governed by the laws of nature and that we basically behave according to the laws of nature but then there’s this question about unpredictability. Sometimes atoms in our cells and smaller particles than atoms move in unpredictable ways, like in quantum physics. So that’s I think the key to understanding that we sometimes can change our destiny and can behave in a different way than it’s destined, if you even believe in destiny. So with that in mind, I think there is hope, right? We can dream a little, make hopes for the futures, big goals and make plans and take steps to achieve those goals, right?
A: That’s true, yes. And I think we have to find some sort of satisfaction in what we are making in practicing the organ. That the process itself would give us some pleasure.
V: Exactly. Some people even say that the result is not that important as the process, as the journey. The journey is the goal, basically. To achieve something in life is not that important as to live a good life, basically.
A: I think maybe our society is very much result-oriented. Don’t you think so? Like everything - educational system starting from an early age, having all those exams and grades.
V: That’s what they call meritocracy. The better you do at school, right? Children hope to get better grades and with good grades they can get into a famous college, right?
V: With famous college of course is a myth nowadays. It doesn’t matter anymore. But still many people believe this. And with famous college you could get a good job, right? Which is also not the case anymore.
A: Yes, and you can make big money and you can become happy.
V: For life.
A: But it’s not necessarily true or not 100% true.
V: So what makes people happy, Ausra? What makes you happy?
A: I think small things makes me the most happier.
V: Like what? Eating chocolate?
A: Well, not so much chocolate but reading a good book, going for a walk.
V: 10000 steps…
A: Well, you are making goals already.
V: My phone messed up and doesn’t count the steps I’m taking so I’m very frustrated now. And basically I lost motivation to walk. Because I don’t know how many steps I take. I may have to lie in bed today. I feel like I’m being robbed.
A: But still you have to walk even if your phone doesn’t count your steps.
A: So for me happiness in small things.
V: Of course doing things that you love is very important and that’s where organ playing comes into play, right? For some people it’s a profession, like for us. It’s what we do. But it’s even better if it’s your hobby, if it’s something you love to do in your spare time, then you can wait for this moment, wait for this privilege in your day to sit down on the bench and practice, right, Ausra?
A: Yes, that’s right. And in general music gives me the biggest joy. Not necessarily playing but also listening to good music, to a nice performance.
V: And then sometimes this short-term pleasure fades away, right? Because you have basically long-term hope that if you sit down on the bench and perfect yourself just one percent today and the next day and the day after that, after 72 days this percentage will double and it will compound and after one year it will be like 3800 percent of improvement in whatever skill you are trying to improve. So in the case of organ playing it’s I think a big deal after one year, right?
V: So Peter if he’s struggling with let’s say motivation sometimes to get on the organ bench, do you think that he could think about that basic 1 percent improvement a day and not break a chain. If he, for example, had a calendar on the wall and notated X for every day that he practiced organ. X for a week, X for a month, X for 6 months. And then the entire point is simply to not break a chain of X’s, right?
V: And it gives us pleasure in things routinely.
A: That’s true.
V: Would that work?
A: Yes, that might work.
V: Would that work for you if you would be struggling?
A: Yes. You know, I remember when I was back in school I would check mark each day after it ended and I would count how many days were left until vacation.
A: It was a good motivation to keep going.
V: So it was for the upcoming pleasure.
V: Of course there is fear of upcoming pain. Maybe deadline is also a good motivation, like recital.
V: If you schedule a public performance or just a simple church service or even playing a short prelude and postlude in your friend’s church a month or two months from now, then of course you will have to announce for your friends and family that you will be there in two months and they will come to listen to your prelude and postlude. Then you will have all the motivation in the world, right?
V: OK, what would be your final advice for Peter and people like him?
A: Well, I think that everybody has to find their own way, really. Because we can suggest things that don’t work for them but try to look for new ways how to make yourself doing right things and to motivate yourself.
V: What if people skip practice for one day, two days, three days? Should they scold themselves?
A: I don’t think scolding yourself is a good thing. It’s not good for you.
V: It’s very Christian though.
A: Yes, it’s very Catholic. I think sometimes all the Catholic churches are built on that guilt. I think most of Catholics grew up knowing that feeling of guilt. And I don’t think it’s good psychologically, it might crush you down. So don’t feel guilt about not practicing. Just try in the future to avoid those long days without practice.
V: Like in the morning… This is a new day, right?
V: You wake up in the morning and you say, “Today will be a different day.”
V: Thanks guys. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
A: 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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