Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start Episode 214, of #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast. This question was sent by Tim. He writes:
My dream for organ playing is to have the confidence to play publicly in church and concert settings. How can I get comfortable play for others and play as well then as I can when playing just for myself.
Barriers include no local teachers in our small community. I’m learning on my own so get no critical feedback on my playing. Lack of opportunity to play publicly is number two. Presumably that could be resolved by joining a local church, but that would really be the wrong reason to join a church. Access to an instrument is not a problem as I have a fine Allen digital organ in my house, but access to a variety of instruments is a problem and limits opportunities to develop more sophisticated registration ideas.
V: So, Ausra, he basically wants to have a confidence to play publicly, in church and concert settings. As with many organists, this is a very fine dream, right?
V: Because there is nothing wrong with it, right?
A: Of course.
V: If you can get comfortable when playing for others and even at the level how you’re playing for yourself, right, without playing worse, that would be very nice skill to have.
A: That’s right. I got an impression from Tim’s letter that actually he plays more to himself because he has an organ at home and doesn’t go, you know, to play somewhere else often. But, you know, it’s some sort of interesting thing because if he wants to be able to play for other people, he needs to go out and to play for them. And for that he definitely will have to go to church.
V: Mmm, hmm.
A: And even maybe, you know, to apply for an organist position or part-time organist position, assistant organist.
V: Or volunteer once a month let’s say, to play for them if they don’t have the resources to pay him.
A: Sure. And as for not having regular teacher and, you know, not having a feedback on his playing, he should record himself more often and listen to what he has played.
V: Mmm, hmm. And compare his playing in the recording to, I don’t know, recordings of other people that he can listen online.
A: Yes, because now YouTube is full of, you know, of excellent organ work.
V: It probably doesn’t mean that copying of recordings note by note is a good idea, because then you lose your unique input and touch. But at the basic level, yes, it helps.
A: Yes, I think for a beginner it’s a great tool, to learn how to play.
V: Mmm, hmm. If he doesn’t have local teachers of course, he could also, you know, use our material that we provide.
V: At first, when we started doing this, we were sort of hopeful that people can teach themselves play, to play the organ, right? But we didn’t know if that was practically possible until John Higgins came from Australia to play for us earlier this month. So, we saw and heard with our own ears what a person can do on his own if, if he as a strong will and immense motivation.
A: That’s true.
V: Right? So, it’s possible to learn on your own.
A: Yes. And you know since also Tim wrote that, you know, that he has a Allen digital organ at home; I think he needs to go to other places to find for other instruments. Because playing digital organ not always, you know, forms the right muscle technique.
V: Mmm, hmm. What do you mean, Ausra?
A: Well, you will not develop strong enough muscles in your hands and your fingers. So you would probably spend some time practicing on mechanical instruments, or at least on the piano, on the wooden piano.
V: Can you compare playing on the digital instrument without weighted keyboard as, let’s say, living or working out in a zero gravity environment?
A: Probably, yes.
V: Like he’s in space, right?
V: Yes. Astronauts of course, they do all kinds of exercise there but they do this, you know, even more than on earth because otherwise their bodies just, would just collapse.
V: So, if you lived on the moon, you would have to exercise six times more because the gravity is less.
A: I know. And you know, then you have your formation built up on the mechanical instrument. Then you can practice on the digital instrument and still sort of hold that feeling of the mechanical instrument.
V: Mmm, hmm.
A: But if it’s other way around, I don’t think, you know, then going to the mechanical after practicing all the time on the digital instrument that you will be able to perform as well as you did at home.
V: Mmm, hmm. It doesn’t work both ways, basically.
V: You have to find a weighted keyboard or at least a piano, mechanical piano.
V: Right. What else can we advise to Tim? I think he can expand his knowledge of harmony, right? He doesn’t mention that has an experience with this or any goal in, in expanding his music theory and harmony skills.
A: Not so many musicians actually do.
V: They want just to play and perform.
V: And in our school, when we teach, there are kids who love to play flute, violin, piano. But classes that we teach, ear training, music theory, harmony; what about them, Ausra?
A: Well, not, not so many of them like those kinds, we don’t understand, that you know, being real musician, actually is like the synthesizing all those subjects together. That, that you cannot be well enough, you know, without having good ear.
V: Mmm, hmm. Complete musician.
A: Yes. Understanding musical language.
V: That’s why we call our program Total Organist, right? Where we include everything you need to know in the current musical environment, including but not limiting yourself to harmony, theory, performance, practice, improvisation, even composition.
A: Yes. I think in today’s global world it’s very important that musicians would be, sort of, you know, would know everything in their field. Would be complete, yes.
V: Mmm, hmm. Because you have to, you have to, be unique in the world in order to be successful, right? Success of course means many things to many people, but still, in the eyes of others, you have to be unique. And your uniqueness might come from being the best in the world in their eyes at something. Maybe at one thing, but then it is very, very fierce competition, right? You’re competing with thousands of other organists who are doing the same thing. Or you could do a combination of things and be a reasonably good organist in, in combining a few subjects, right Ausra?
A: That’s right.
V: Then it’s much less competition this way. And even better if you combine subjects that are not easily combinable, not, not often combined, right? You have to find your other, perhaps passions and combine them with organ. Then you’ll be the best in the world in the combination.
A: Yes, because you know, let’s, let’s take any, any type of, you know, organ composition in order to you know, to play it well, you need to have a good enough organ technique. You know, you, you have to know at least some of music theory, and, you know, in order to understand how the piece is put together, you need to have a good hearing in order to be able to judge if you are playing well enough. You know, record yourself and listen back to what you are playing to correct yourself, and even you know, when are listening to other people performing. You also need, you know, all that understanding, if you know, you like or not it and why. So you need to have some knowledge of musical history in order to understand the right style of particular composer. So it, it’s actually the whole world.
V: Exactly. When you’re studying the organ art, you’re basically studying the, the entire input of humanity.
V: Thank you guys. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please 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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