I have played this piece on Gedackt 8', Quintathen 8' and Viol di gamba 8' stops using Velesovo sample set of Hauptwerk VPO. You can support me on Patreon and get free CD's: https://patreon.com/secretsoforganplaying
Yesterday I started practicing and recording the 3rd part of Clavierubung by Johann Ludwig Krebs. It has 6 Sonatinas with 3 movements each. So I first recorded the opening of the 1st Sonatina, Allegro. It’s a fast movement and it gave my fingers a good exercise. There is something about Krebs that I like - maybe this playfulness, perhaps gracefulness but always with an amazing amount of artistic beauty. In other words, even though Krebs lived in the generation after Johann Sebastian Bach, it’s evident the old master had a good influence on him. Aušra is in the middle of recording his Clavierubung I, the 2nd part is done and I hope to record the 3rd part in April.
SOPP576: I tend to focus too much on what I am playing on Sunday and don’t make as much progress on the “bigger” pieces that take much longer than a week to learn
Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 576 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Julie. And she writes,
I tend to focus too much on what I am playing on Sunday and don’t make as much progress on the “bigger” pieces that take much longer than a week to learn. Sometimes there isn’t much I can do about that if things are particularly busy at work.
V: Ausra, this challenge seems to be particularly common among liturgical organists, right?
A: Yes, I think so, yes.
V: Who have constant duties at church, preparing hymns, preludes, and other liturgical music week after week. But then, what comes after that is really hard to learn, right? After a month or three months from now, a person doesn’t have enough time.
A: True. Although I think there are some solutions that could be applied. First of all, if you are a church organist for more than one year, well, each liturgical year has its own festivities and occasions. And after some time, you will see that, you will notice that the hymns will come back, and you will be playing the same hymns as the last year or the year before that. So I guess after knowing your hymnal really well, it doesn’t take so long to prepare hymns for Sunday. And the same with preludes and postludes. You don’t need to play new things every Sunday. Maybe you can repeat some of older pieces after some time. And you can alternate between them, so that will save time, too.
V: This situation kind of reminds me of your schoolwork and preparation for it. How much time did you have to spend in your first or second year?
A: A lot. Many hours.
V: Many hours. Mm hm. Half an hour for each lesson, class?
A: Yes, for when I worked the first year, probably yes.
V: And you were teaching, like maybe 20 or more classes every week?
A: Yes, around that. I started with 18 hours per week, and then I had more.
V: Mm hm. But then the second year, did you notice some things got easier?
A: Well, some things. But still, it was quite hard.
V: Obviously, because the course was more advanced, right?
V: Eleventh grade. You started from the tenth grade, then eleventh grade?
A: Well, I have taught since the fifth grades.
V: Uh huh.
A: When I started to work, so…
V: And then the third year afterwards it got even more complex, right?
V: With twelfth grade harmony. But when did you start to notice things to be repeating, and your skill level and experience level helping you out?
A: Well I guess after five years, I noticed.
V: I wonder how long Julie is working in church, and is she having five year’s experience or not?
A: But now it takes me one hour for, to prepare for entire week, so, at the very most.
V: So I would imagine with your experience, a person who would play at church for a decade or more, they could simply practice those hymns and liturgical music and preludes one hour in advance, maybe on Saturday evening, right?
A: Yes. And when we are talking about problems like this, I just think, how blest are the organists who can improvise. How much time they can save.
V: Yes, that’s a great idea. So Julie, I think Ausra is suggesting you to improvise.
V: Or do some kind of combination of repertoire playing and improvisation. At first, you will be very, you will feel like you are a beginner at this, inadequate skills. It’s like starting to play the organ from the, from scratch. But little by little, after a year or two, you will get more experience.
A: And another thing: If you are working on the larger scale repertoire for, let’s say a recital, you could integrate some of that music into a liturgical service as well. Maybe not to play an entire piece, but maybe just an episode out of it.
V: And finish with a nice cadence.
A: I know. And that way, you will then go both ways. You will add to your larger repertoire, and you will fill in your service.
V: Yes, I know what you mean. It’s like a cycle. Prelude and Fugue has two parts, right? You could play the Prelude in the beginning and Fugue at the end.
A: That’s still a lot of music.
V: Still a lot?
V: So what you could do, to play just the prelude, but split it in two parts, and finish it with a nice final cadence, maybe with extension towards subdominant key at the end and then coming back to the tonic. And then this would be your prelude, half of the actual prelude. And then the other half could be repeated after the service. Maybe starting with some kind of gradual introduction so you could drive into this postlude gradually, musically, in an aesthetically pleasing way.
A: Yes, that’s a good suggestion.
V: This requires obviously harmony skills, maybe music theory skills, and even a little bit more experience. But the general suggestion could be like this. Incorporate your bigger works into liturgy.
A: And of course, when you’re picking up larger pieces for recitals, you could think about that too, if they would strategically fit into the service music. Because obviously there are lots of organ repertoire that could be easily included into the service music. Let’s say partitas, Pachelbel’s partitas or Bach’s partitas. They work just well and these segmented pieces, so you wouldn’t need to worry about making up the cadences.
V: And in general, I think you have to gather more and more repertoire, so that when the time comes for you to play in public, let’s say a recital, then you don’t have to learn everything from scratch, but as Ausra says, learn just one or two pieces from scratch, and repeat everything else this time. And next time, you can learn two more pieces and repeat everything else, you see. And you gradually will supplant your repertoire, refresh your repertoire this way, but won’t overextend yourself.
A: That’s right.
V: Yeah. That’s our suggestions for this question, and they should be helpful for people, right, Ausra?
A: Yes, I hope so.
V: So please, guys, send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen!
Yesterday I ordered an unlimited internet for home plan from Telia because with Bite we couldn’t get any work done from Monday when the whole online teaching and learning in Lithuania started. It took 5 minutes just to load a page, not to mention, stream an audio or video... Aušra had some GB from her Telia plan and it worked flawlessly without any glitches even under these circumstances so we decided to take a leap even though we still have 15 months of subscription with Bite left to pay.
Also I started recording Clavierubung II by Krebs, an opening Allegro from Sonatina Prima. Delightful little gems... After lunch I set up our weekly newsletter to go out to our email subscribers asking a question of how organists are dealing with Coronavirus these days.
In the evening Aušra and I started watching series Ozark on Netflix starring Jason Bateman and Laura Finney. It’s about a financial adviser who is fleeing a drug lord to some small town in Missouri to clean his 8 M dollars. I wish season 4 of Stranger Things would come faster...
Ausra and I have been sitting at home and practicing on our MIDI keyboard using Hauptwerk VPO. Some of our subscribers have already heard the recordings. Ausra is going through entire Clavierubung I (chorales) by Johann Ludwig Krebs and I - yesterday finished Clavierubung II (suite). Today I started Clavierubung III (Sonatinas). It's a delightful pre-classical music!
Of course, it's very sad to listen to the news about the deaths of Coronavirus in the world. We hope that the peak of the pandemic will be reached soon and that the cases and deaths will start to decline. It's so important at this time to observe proper social distancing and personal hygiene.
Talking about social distancing, just about the only thing we do outside is to go for a walk in the woods and avoid places where more people go. When I went to the grocery store, on Monday morning I wore protective glasses, gloves and face mask. Soon after I returned, a currier delivered a large parcel with Viscount MIDI pedalboard from Thomann, a music store from Germany. We are still waiting for the organ bench to arrive.
After these packages will be cleared from quarantine in our Pinky and Spiky cabin, I'll be unboxing them and setting up our Hauptwerk in the organ room. Hopefully you will hear more pedal music and even organ duets soon. Stay tuned...
I hope you and your loved ones are safe. How do you spend your quarantine as an organist? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
I have played this piece on Principal 8', Octav 4', Octav 2', Quinta 1 1/2' and Scharff 4 fach stops using Velesovo sample set of Hauptwerk VPO. You can support me on Patreon and get free CD's: https://patreon.com/secretsoforganplaying
Thank you everyone for participating! You all made us very happy with your entries. We have all selected the following winners. You can congratulate them here.
If you are sitting at home during this quarantine, you might have a problem of accessing a practice instrument. I was very glad when my friend James Flores shared this video with me in which you will see how to construct your own organ at home. Highly recommended, especially the part about the pedalboard!
Yesterday I tested Soundrop music distribution service for my and Ausra’s tracks. Distrokid banned me some months ago without explanation just at the moment when my revenue started doubling every week and I had to find a new distributor. Mixnauten was my next choice. Everything went rather well at first but then somehow all my tracks I submitted through them disappeared from Spotify. Even back and forth support emails didn’t help sort out the issue as of yet. So yesterday I uploaded 3 of Ausra’s newest tracks and 2 of mine. Interface is much more visually appealing than that of Mixnauten’s. The submission process was easier than expected. I had only to figure out how to convert a track to 16 bit rate. I did that with an online audio converter and after a few minutes the tracks were in review. Will they appear on Spotify after a few days as they promise? Will await and see.
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 575 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Jeremy, who is transcribing our scores and adding fingering and pedaling, and is our member of the Total Organist Community. He writes:
“I like that Total Organist is keeping me focused on my practicing, and how to practice.”
V: Ausra, what does he mean?
A: I think that’s what he means, what he says, that it helps him to stay focused on his practice and because it shows how to practice it means that it improves his practice, too!
V: What is the opposite of focus in this case for Jeremy?
A: Well, the loss of concentration, I guess.
A: Distractions, yes.
V: Have you been distracted in your life from your organ practice by any other exciting things, let’s say?
A: Of course, but not so much because of exciting things, but probably because of very serious and unpleasant things.
V: Can you name one of them?
A: No, I can’t.
V: Just one?
A: Because it’s just very personal.
V: Ah. I thought maybe that ha something to do with school, you know?
A: Oh! Do you mean overworking all the time?
A: Yes, that’s one of them, but… I didn’t mean that when I said it.
V: So, if Total Organist is keeping Jeremy focused on his practicing, this is a good thing. Right? But I’m thinking, “How is this program keeping him focused?” By which means? Do you have any idea?
A: I think it’s because it consists of so many things that everybody can find something useful and something to work on.
V: And this could be a distraction at the same time, right?
A: I don’t think you would find any of the Total Organists that would do everything in this program. I guess you just find what your weakness is and what you want to learn the most, and then you work on that.
V: But there are hundreds of scores and programs and trainings. You can get lost, right?
A: Maybe you need to write a smooth guide through your Total Organist program.
V: Step by step!
V: But for everybody, as you say, it’s very personal, and the goals are personal. And I know Jeremy is participating in our weekly contest—Secrets of Organ Playing Contest—week after week, and it’s been great to see him work through Bach’s “Orgelbuchlein” Chrorale Preludes regularly. It’s amazing to see him progress and to actually read his reports, what he has been doing over each day, and I think when a person writes about his day, what he has been working on, then it makes him think about his day, about his activities. And sometimes, if you don’t think, you don’t notice things that you do, and you don’t know if you are productive or not—if creative or not. And when you are reporting like this for everyone else to see in this group, I think it really helps him to stay focused, as he says, for tomorrow also—for tomorrow’s goals. Don’t you think?
A: Yes, I think so. I think you are absolutely right.
V: That’s why I take your activity reports and also publish them on Basecamp so other people could also know what you are doing.
A: Do you think they are useful?
V: Nobody said that they’re not.
A: Well… if you think that they are useful, you may put them there.
V: Yeah, I think they are useful, because they help people feel that you are human, you know, not hiding behind a screen, but a real person.
A: Okay. I am a real person, “Hi!” Well, anyway, I think if I would have had such a program let’s say 25 years back, I think I would have benefited from it very much.
V: You think that 25 years ago you would have benefited from this program a lot?
A: Yes! When I had just started to play the organ.
V: Hmmm. There was no opportunity for anyone to create this. Right? No Internet, capabilities of streaming, and uploading….
A: I know, and I just think it would have saved me a lot of time and a lot of trouble.
V: We started organ playing back in 1994, I think,
A: Yes, that’s right!
V: And that was before even blogs were created! Blogs were created, I think, just before 2000, the first blogs, but they became mainstream around 2002 picked up by big media, and I also remember that I noticed the word “blog” mentioned also on the Internet and on TV around that time, but I hadn’t done anything with it. I only dreamed about it, and started writing blog posts only in 2007 in Lithuanian, and in English in 2011.
A: Yes, and now it’s just so nice to have access to all that information and organ playing technique, because I remember my first lesson with George Ritchie at Lincoln, when he asked by which method book I was taught to play the organ, and I said, “By none!” And I remember how he looked at me.
V: You didn’t use any textbooks.
A: Yes, I know. And I just felt like I came from the middle of the jungle somewhere, basically learning how to play organ from monkeys!
V: Well yes. Nowadays, you cannot say that it’s lack of information that’s stopping people from mastering the organ or practicing the organ. Not anymore, right?
A: Yes, but I don’t think that much has changed in Lithuania, because I guess with their kind of music, they still don’t use any kind of method books, so…
V: Good thing we have a global audience and are not limited to a Lithuanian audience.
A: Yes, that’s right. At least we can share our experience.
V: Thank you guys! We hope this was useful to you, so you see how the Total Organist community is being inspired by one another, and keeping on track with their organ practice, and reporting back at the end of the day about their daily practice activities, and about their weekly goals, challenges, and this helps them move forward much much faster than they would be doing on their own. Right Ausra?
V: Okay, 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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Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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