Tom writes that his dream is to achieve technical confidence and express the beauty of the music and liturgies that he plays. The three things that inhibit his progress are that sometimes he lets time constraints win over discipline, problems with accurate pedal playing, and getting beyond always having to prepare what he has to play at the next mass.
If you are in a situation like Tom, you probably feel a fair amount of fear. A fear that your won't be able to play the pedals without mistakes when needed; a fear that you won't have enough time to prepare for the liturgy; a fear that when you don't have enough time to practice the right way, you'll take shortcuts and sacrifice the mental toughness you have accumulated over the years in favor of the panic that sets in when you feel the pressure.
If you really want to advance to a whole new level in organ playing, one day in the not too distant future you are going to face your worst fears and see what you are really made of. You are not going to try finding an easy way out, you are not going to turn around and run, and you are not going to change your goal.
What you really need is to feel your fear, acknowledge it, and look straight into the eyes of the thing that scares you the most. This is how you overcome fear and move to the next level.
It's not easy. I remember my fear I had when I first started to improvise full-length recitals in public. I feared that I would not be able to improvise for a full hour; I feared that my improvisations are going to be boring; I feared that I would miss the time-marks and go way over the limits of the 60 minutes; I feared that I would not be able to change the stops by myself.
I had no choice but to face my fears. A deadline was set. The day came. I sat on the organ bench and played. It was scary at first. The waiting for the recital was scary. The beginning of it was scary too. But I had to keep going - you can't just stop and leave the church in the middle of the performance, can you? I had to figure it out. Interestingly enough, it was easier and easier after the half-time mark. After that I knew it could be done.
And so likewise, you, my reader, have to just do it, simply open your eyes and see it through what you fear the most. There is no magic to it, only determination and will-power.
After that, you will be changed.
What's the thing you fear the most in organ playing?
Part II: Adagio doloroso (p. 11) from Organ Sonata "Appassionata", Op.57 by Johan Adam Krygell (1835-1915) who was a Danish organist and composer of the Romantic period.
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Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.