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V: Let’s start episode 270 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. And this question was sent by Juan. He writes:
Hello Mr. Pinkevicius:
Thanks a lot for your enormous work propagating the practice of organ. I followed your daily e-mails with special attention dissecting every sentence you wrote in the process of improving organ techniques. My case is a little different because I am man who plays piano for personal entertainment and now when I am retired from public work as software engineer I decided to explore the intricacies of organ playing and state of the art of this wonderful instrument. My knowledge of software, electronics and music had let me to begin the process of "midifying" my Rodgers electric organ aside of the adventure of playing it.
And now, to answer your questions, (1) my dream is to continue improving my organ playing musically and technically, and (2) really the only thing that is holding me to get my dream is simply TIME but I think with patience and good tips I can get my proposal.
Going back, the reason I got your web link was because I was looking for a student score of Toccata & fugue in D minor (BWV 565) with fingering, pedaling and tips for practical study of it. So I think with the guides you sketched in your e-mails and having the work done for fingering and pedaling I can embark in such work.
Again, thanks for your help and additional idea I can assimilate.
A: I think it’s very nice, you know, that he wants to improve in his playing. I think it’s a common wish for all organists, and all musicians in general. Don’t you think so?
V: I hope that everyone who plays the instrument wants to get better at it. If somebody is just playing for the sake of playing, then it’s not that interesting. Right?
V: So, Juan now is retired. Do you think that people can improve faster when they retire?
A: Of course, because they should have more time when they retire, and can be able to plan their time better.
V: But Juan still writes that the problem is time, so what’s behind this question, would you think, Ausra?
A: I think everybody would want to have more time. But, if you want to achieve something, you need to learn to plan your time.
V: And planning probably means, first of all, prioritizing, right? Doing things that matter to you first.
A: True, because you cannot do everything. Sometimes, our planning is unrealistic. So, when you plan your schedule, just be reasonable. Make it as realistic as possible.
V: Are you one of those people, Ausra, who plans too much and does too much?
A: Yes, I do too much.
V: Is it because you want to do too much, or do you feel you need to do too much?
A: I don’t know. I’m sort of that kind of person that, you know, I don’t know how to say, “no,” and always take too many jobs, too many responsibilities.
V: In my case, I have too many passions. Not, perhaps, too many, but a lot. Right? And to do them properly takes a lot of time. That’s also time consuming, and takes a lot of planning and prioritizing what’s really important, and what to do first, and second, and third.
A: But I’m thinking that if you have, let’s say, if you can manage your time as much as you want, and to do what you want when you are retired… if you don’t have to go to a job every day, then try to do things that matter the most in the morning and at the beginning of the day.
V: If he is a morning person.
A: True. Morning time, relatively. If he gets up at, let’s say, 11:00 AM, then it’s morning for him. For me, morning is 7:00 AM or 6:00 AM. But it doesn’t matter. Do things that matter the most earlier in your day.
V: So you think that the reason that he cannot find enough time for organ practice is that he’s not doing organ practice first thing in the morning, probably, right?
A: I think so, yes. For me, at least, that works best. To do the most important things first. Do not procrastinate.
V: And, of course, learn to say, “no,” to the things that don’t really matter.
V: What could be some examples of that? Because, people sometimes get confused, right, what is important and what is not.
A: I think, you know, to every person, it’s different things that are important and that are less important.
V: Are there any general ideas you could think of?
A: I don’t think so, because you know you can say things and offend people.
V: Ok, let’s offend people.
A: You can do that, I don’t want to do it.
V: Because, we’re doing this now for educations purposes, of course. And, well let’s say, cleaning your house; Should it be on the top list of your priorities or not?
A: Well, it should be, but you don’t do it every day, so… we have very different opinions, I think, about this, because for me, to live in a clean house is important. For you, it’s not, so, you know…
V: I can live in a cave.
V: With worms. Good. But it’s of course important, then to have an organ at home for us both. And Juan also has this instrument at home, and he doesn’t need to go to church to beg to anybody to let him play. He always has this opportunity.
A: But look, organ playing for him is sort of hobby, yes? And I guess he has many other hobbies, too. I don’t know, I’m just guessing. Maybe reading, watching TV, fishing, swimming, or it could be many things. But, you know, then you need to think that playing the organ is such an activity that requires both mental and physical preparation, so you cannot play the organ when you are tired, for example, or exhausted. So that’s why it’s good to do it first thing in the morning. And then maybe do an activity that doesn’t require so much physical and mental power.
A: Or focus.
V: You’re right, Ausra, and you mentioned a very important thing here a moment ago. I want to focus on it for a second. You said that perhaps Juan might have other hobbies besides organ, right? And when people have a lot of hobbies, it’s difficult to do them all well, and sometimes, they all take too much time, and doing those activities, although it’s a pleasure for a person, might be selfish in terms of other family members. Imagine, Ausra, if I had 50 different hobbies every day and I would take up swimming, running, drawing, writing, reading, playing the organ, and whatever comes up to my plate, I would do it with passion: “this is my hobby,” right? My entire day would be filled with my hobbies. Would that be ok?
A: Of course not. I think you already have too many hobbies.
A: And that’s why, you know, other family members suffer from that.
V: Right. So, the way I look at it is you have to help other people with your own hobby, too. If it’s helping other people, then I guess this hobby can be practiced. For example, drawing—we both draw—and I think other people enjoy it when we share those things, so that’s why we continue to do it.
A: So then, what about exercising? Does it help anybody else when you, for example, exercise?
V: No, but what I hope with this is I hope to share my own experiences in a book afterwards, too. When you exercise, you have to exercise, physically, to be physically healthy and in a good state, right? And what I’m doing is I’m also documenting my exercising, which will later become part of the book. And other people can read about it.
A: You know, I would disagree with you about making good things for other people. You are saying that you are doing everything for everybody, and I don’t think so. I think the most important thing for any person is to be happy him- or herself.
V: Of course.
A: Because, I think only a happy person can make others happy, too. So when you are saying you are only thinking about then others, I think that you are a little bit dishonest about it, because I think, first of all, you are making yourself happy.
V: I didn’t say that I wasn’t thinking about myself first, here. Of course, I was thinking my hobby like this, let’s say exercising, I’m doing it for my own improvement, but not only for my own improvement. I am documenting the process and making it a part of the book, which might be helpful to other people later on.
A: Yes, and now I think we need to switch and go back to the organ.
V: So, organ playing for Juan, let’s say, is also a hobby, right? And I think he has every reason to practice it, right? Because, as you say, it has to make him happy. And if it does, he has to spend more time at this, right?
V: And when you are retired, you can find more time doing it, and if you are a morning person, try to do this thing first thing in the morning. That would be helpful. Thanks guys, this was Vidas!
A: And Ausra!
V: Please remember to 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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