I’m so delighted to be able to teach you about avoiding mistakes when playing in an equal tempo today. Listen to the audio version here.
You see, recently one of my “Unda Maris” studio students played in our church and he had a trouble of keeping equal tempo and avoiding mistakes. I thought to help him with some of the tips which might be of value to you too because you also probably need to avoid mistakes and play at a constant tempo.
So the problem is usually with the tempo that is too fast. A lot of people try to slow down when they practice and this is good. But this tempo still needs to be considerably slower. You see, when we play the organ we don’t necessarily feel the limits of our abilities and we pick the tempo that sounds well, the piece of music that we’re playing sounds well in this particular tempo but it doesn’t mean that this tempo is suitable for us at the moment.
So when students played their piece and made mistakes usually it usually means they played too fast. So the normal tip would be to slow down and try to play at the 50 percent slower tempo. So that would be the first tip I could give you. Maybe slow down from let’s say 80 beats per minute to 40 beats per minute. That would be OK.
What about if your concert tempo is at 60 beats per minute? Well, you could slow down to 30 beats per minute.
If you still make mistakes after slowing down 50 percent, then you need to reduce the texture. What do I mean by that?
Imagine if your piece of music has 4 voices and you’re playing it extremely slowly at 40 beats per minute and you still make those mistakes. This simply means you need to take this texture apart and play, let’s say just 3 voices at the moment.
If that is too difficult for you, then play maybe 2 voices together. And if you still make mistakes, play it very slowly but only one voice. That’s why I always recommend to start your practice of a new unfamiliar piece with a single line only in most cases if you want to avoid mistakes completely.
So soprano, alto, tenor, bass - all those lines could be played extremely slowly and without combining them first, just one voice. After you master this particular step, you are free to go to the next level and play 2 parts together.
So that would be soprano-alto, soprano-tenor, soprano-bass, alto-tenor, alto-tenor and alto-bass, and tenor-bass combined.
And the next thing would be to practice 3 voice combination - soprano-alto-tenor, soprano-alto-bass, soprano-tenor-bass and alto-tenor-bass.
You see, how many steps we took in order to achieve this final combination - 4 parts combined, both hands and pedal, in other words. 14 steps before the final 15th step - 4 parts together.
So don’t forget to do this. Of course, you don’t have to do this all the time if the piece is very easy, if the piece is of homophonic nature, if it moves in chords or if it’s a melody and accompaniment. Then you just need just 7 combinations:
Right hand, left hand and pedals alone. Then right hand and left hand, right hand and pedals, left hands and pedals and the all parts together. If it’s not polyphonically complex music.
So try these tips in your practice and let me know if it helps. It helped me and it helps this student that I’m trying to help in our “Unda Maris” studio.
OK guys, please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow.
And remember, when you practice, 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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