SOPP275: My hobby of organ playing suffered a lot since I did not feel like sitting down on the bench every day
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 275 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. And this question was sent by Carsten.
Dear Vidas and Ausra,
I'm glad to hear from you and I'm happy as well that my donation is so highly appreciated.
Please take it as my personal way to say "Thank you!" to both of you for all of your great inspiring and continuous advice, newsletters and videos, which always helped me out when I got stuck on my way to further dive into playing the organ.
Apropos getting stuck: My current job of being a software developer was very demanding over the past months -- and still is, with still no time to relax within visible reach. This had a big impact on my schedule, so my hobby of organ playing suffered a lot since I did not feel like sitting down on the bench every day. Of course, I had a bad conscience about this because I remembered all of your articles about time management, being consistent in practice, taking the daily 15 minutes and so on...
But in the end, to my very surprise, I was even able to improvise on some symphonic pieces for about 2.5 hours on a big IV+P cathedral organ during public opening hours -- without having played a single note for about four or five weeks before. Sometimes it seems like energy cells have to recharge for a while and it also seems that a bit of distance isn't a always a bad idea. Of course, I do not feel to have reached "concert level" yet -- but to be honest, this is nothing that I personally NEED to achieve (yeah, I take the relaxed way and do that for my personal fun and the joy of others). Also, "concert level" could mean a wide variety of things and may not mean anything to the listeners who do or even do not enjoy the music at a certain moment.
What mattered in my opinion was that (a) I was present there on that wonderful organ, (b) had no fear or performance anxiety, as you called it, even with numerous visitors walking through the huge building, (c) seized the moment despite of people talking, making their phone calls (what the ?!?!?) and children screaming, (d) let a number of friends, relatives and random visitors have a good time with my music and finally (d) was able to conduct the first surround recording of my impros.
If I made you curious about the result, I'd happily invite you to watch my "Dom Momente Live" playlist, which you can find on my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/WoodyofmC .
In case you'd like to keep an eye on my progress: During the past years, I recorded a number of pieces and performances for my family and friends (CDs are a great gift for any occasion...) and I'm currently in the process of creating a discography page in case one of them would like to order additional copies as a gift for his or her own friends. At http://en.wpoa.de , you may keep track of how my hobby is evolving -- last but not least, thanks to your highly appreciated mentoring! :-)
V: So what do you think about this long and fascinating feedback Ausra?
A: Truly fascinating.
A: So, you know I think that the main idea of this letter is that you could have sort of a break from the organ and then go back to it and it might do you good.
V: Exactly and Carsten gives us 5 YouTube links here of his improvisations and he is interested in knowing our feedback. But I don’t think were able to do that in detail in this episode but maybe in the next one we can listen to them beforehand and say a few things about those improvisations. We’ll be glad to do that. So my comment about this performance in cathedral is that yes, he was honest about those four things he noticed and even though it was not perfect, performance was not perfect, but he didn’t beat himself up for this. That’s a good, I think, character trait. Positive outlook.
A: Yes, it’s excellent and I think he chose very wisely to improvise because he hadn’t played the organ for a while before that. So I think in such a case improvisation is always a better idea than to play repertoire that you haven’t practiced for a month or more.
A: Don’t you think so?
V: Right. Here I would like to add a comment about something that was written in the beginning. Carsten wrote that “his current job of being a software developer was very demanding and this had a big impact on his schedule and so his hobby of organ playing suffered a lot since he did not feel like sitting down on the bench every day.” I’d like to add a comment here. Feeling is less important, I’m talking about my own perspective of course, if I have a goal and I don’t have time, or tired, or even sometimes sick, which might happen and I feel the pressure to keep on track of my schedule I would do, no matter what my practice look like, maybe fifteen minutes would be enough, not maybe an hour but fifteen minutes I could do no matter what even if I did not feel like sitting down on the bench. What do you think Ausra about that attitude? Strict attitude.
A: Well, I don’t agree actually with you.
V: See guys, we are so different and that’s so wonderful because you get both perspectives in one Podcast.
A: Well, in July I spent a week in the hospital and then was sick for a few weeks and I haven’t practiced at all because I didn’t have any possibility to do it.
V: No, I understand that.
A: And I still went to London and gave that recital together with you.
V: Did they come to your hospital and say “Ausra you need to practice” while lying in bed?
A: I’m just giving you this example that you would understand that there are periods in life when you really cannot practice.
V: No, of course when you are sick, like really sick, cannot really move or work.
A: Maybe I had to ask you to bring me organ to the hospital.
V: Or have temperature, high fever then it’s even dangerous to do that, but still you know what I would do? I would practice in my head while lying in bed.
A: With a fever of forty degrees, yes?
V: No, forty degrees no, but thirty-nine degrees, yes. (Laughs)
A: Well let’s wait until you get sick and then we will see how much you will practice in your head.
V: And then we will record another Podcast episode about that.
A: Yeah. You know, when you have fever I can see it from my experience now that such a high fever you don’t understand what is real and what is not real. And then yes maybe in your head somewhere you can practice while hallucinating.
V: What I was meaning of course Ausra is that Carsten was not having a fever, you know.
A: Well but you know his job is his job it’s his priority because it pays his bills so you have to do that thing.
V: Listen to this. He had the bad conscience about skipping practice because he remembered our article saying about importance of being consistent and taking at least fifteen minutes a day. So he knows that it’s important, right, but he didn’t feel like sitting down. It’s basically saying that he knows the right way but his will is not strong enough to do it sometimes.
A: But look, even you know things happen and you cannot practice for some time no matter what the reason is, don’t feel guilty because that feeling of inner guilt is bad for you.
V: Yes. Guys please don’t think that I’m practicing like a saint every day for seven hours straight. No. I also skip practice from time to time and I don’t recommend doing this but sometimes life gets in the way. But don’t beat yourself up if you do this. Be always positive and love yourself.
A: For example right now we spent two days on the seacoast and we haven’t practiced for those two days and this morning I practiced again and actually I felt even better because given those two days without practicing helped me to look to my repertoire with new eyes. I got some new ideas. I heard and saw some things that I haven’t noticed before and I think it’s good to give yourself sometimes without practicing. But of course don’t do it too often.
V: We won’t try to give you a recipe how many days you can skip, right? It’s dangerous.
A: Sure, because I think it’s individual for everybody.
V: If the reason is really important then of course go ahead and skip and don’t beat yourself up for that but then maybe try to make it up the next day, right?
V: OK guys this was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: We have different opinions, right Ausra?
A: That’s right.
V: But that’s the beauty of it, right, our conversations. Sometimes people can choose whichever opinions they like and which advice they can take to heart.
V: So please send us more of your questions, we love helping you grow even though we don’t always agree with each other, but we always support each other.
V: That’s another thing. So 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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