Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 325, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Andrea. And she writes:
Stage fright, shyness, lack of confidence and lack of patience for the last 10% to make the piece perfect. I have a teacher now for 5 years, tough lady, very demanding. So I am not in the organist’s desert.
V: Okay. How many people, Ausra, have a stage fright?
A: Well I think very many.
V: Did you have a stage fright when you first started playing organ?
A: Of course.
V: Or piano. You were little when you started playing piano, right?
A: Of course, I had it. I think everybody does. Some has beginner stage fright, some not as big but I think that everybody’s frightened, at least a little bit.
V: Mmm-hmm. I’m trying to find one answer by Daniel, I think. And he wrote really great things about stage fright. Let me read what Daniel wrote. To the answer to one organist who also had anxiety issues, he wrote:
Daniel: ‘Hi Vidas. You can tell your email sender that the anxiety originates from the mantle unpreparedness. Here are some of the things I do to prepare myself: Analyze pieces, understand what the composer wants, study the musical elements shown on the pieces, dynamics, articulations, etc. Sight read if playing with the score, isolate your mind to the score in brain, etc. Even if there is a memory lapse, I know I will not have a high anxiety. Very important to think, as to whether or not to focus on people or on the music.
V: That’s nice.
V: Very, I think, very on track advice, I think.
A: That’s true, but I think when you perform live, adrenaline will come. It doesn’t matter if you know piece well or you don’t know it well. If you have analyzed it or you have not. Of course knowing your piece very well and if you are ready for sure, you will not be as anxious about things. But still, you never know what might happen in actual performance. Maybe organ will break.
V: Maybe you will break the organ.
A: That’s true.
V: Or I will break the organ. As I did in the past.
A: Maybe your assistants will do something very stupid—will turn page backwards, as happened to me for example. Not once.
V: And the same person did this to you? Twice?
V: Oh! Will you tell us his name, publicly?
A: No, I won’t. I won’t. It’s rude to ask. So, and I would like to see original question.
V: Original, okay, let’s go back. Let’s go back to the original question.
A: Because we get distracted so easily.
V: So, lack of patience also for the last ten percent to make piece perfect.
A: Well, maybe that also gives you the fright and shyness, that you know that you are not ready to perform. Because as you say, you still have ten percent to make the piece perfect.
V: Imagine if the time comes to perform, let’s say in public, in a situation of liturgical playing or a concert, and you didn’t have this patience, and you didn’t do all the homework in time, right? When the time comes to perform, you will feel actually guilty.
V: I would feel guilty. And because of this guilt, I would feel afraid also.
A: Yes, like school kids, especially younger, in elementary school, we often get the tummy ache. ‘Oh my tummy hurts. I cannot do things.’ And that’s the question arises that tummy hurts, during for example tests. Because actually he or she wasn’t ready for it. And then the body sends all these signals in various pains.
V: I got tummy aches many times before vacuuming the carpet.
V: Mmm-hmm. In my childhood.
A: That’s because you were lazy.
V: And my mom then said ‘maybe I should rub your tummy, clockwise.’ And that helped. And my cousin, she saw me through very truly and she discovered that I was actually pretending.
A: Well, actually, you were a very spoiled child. My mother would never massage my tummy.
A: Clockwise. She would notice right away if I’m lying or not.
V: But that didn’t hurt me in the long run. Or did it?
A: I think it did, in some ways, yes.
V: And can you be more specific, please?
A: I think you haven’t formed your character.
V: Character! What do you mean?
A: Well I think it’s still hard for you to do some homework. Some domestic works.
V: You know what helps, Ausra? And I’m now really being really honest, in front of thousands of people? I’m inserting an earplug in my ear, and when I have to do some homework chores, church or work outside, or just do some manual work, right? I listen to inspirational podcasts, and that helps me to,,,
V: To survive, yes.
A: That’s nice. At least you found a way to help you, so I’m glad for it.
V: And, by the way, what helps you to do all those works? Do you have special secrets, or special secret ear plugs too?
A: No, but I’m trying to do every, every job that I do with love, and care, and it helps.
V: Oh. That’s deep. I don’t know. I need an hour to think about it. Okay, let’s go back to Andrea.
A: Yes, and now she says that she has teacher for five years now, a tough lady. And she writes that she is not in an organ desert. So, five years, I think that’s a long time, and if I would be Andrea, I would definitely want to study with somebody else, after taking five years of lessons with one person. Because that lady might be the most fabulous organist and organ teacher. I think in five years, you will, you already learned from that lady what she could give to you. And maybe you need to look for somebody else.
A: Yes. Don’t you agree, that five years, that is sufficient?
V: Well, look, we had for a few years, different organ teachers at the Lithuanian Academy of Music, right? I studied for four years with Leopoldas Digrys and then for two years with Gediminas Kviklys, right? So that was, I think, four years it was for me quite enough to know all about the secrets, secret methodology of Leopoldas Digrys. And then of course, two years with Gediminas Kviklys also gave me ample time to transmit his knowledge. And then what else? In Michigan, with Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra for two years, in Nebraska, two years with Quentin Faulkner, and, I think two and a half years with Quentin Faulkner and one semester with George Ritchie, right?
A: You are asking me. I don’t know, it’s your studies.
V: But I forgot. I’m getting old.
A: Well, you need to do more mental work.
V: I’m older than you, remember.
A: Yes, by four months. That’s a big difference.
V: When I was four months old, you were not born, you see. It’s a big difference.
A: Yes, it is. So for Andrea, my advice would be, maybe you need to look for another teacher.
V: Teacher, okay. Hopefully she’s living in an area where more teachers are on the market. Okay guys. Thank you so much for sending these questions to us. We hope our answers educate you, entertain you, and inspire you in some way. 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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