Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 335 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Neil and he writes:
“Hi Vidas and Ausra,
Thanks for your email and I love your wonderful conversational style! I take it that Lithuanian is your native language but your English is delightful! I admire that so much, as I'm afraid we Americans are mostly unilingual. My grandfather sang songs in Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, and English. His father was Polish but he grew up in Lithuania because his mother's family owned a farm there, I think not far from Kaunas. On a musical note, I will soon be taking my first formal organ lessons, from a local church organist. The church where I am choir director will pay for them, and I am delighted.
I've been a musician/music teacher for forty years, but not on the organ. I'm still looking for organ shoes, but my feet are extra wide, and I also need loafers, because I prefer not to deal with the laces. Will I be able to find organ shoes like that?
Thank you again for your wonderful, inspiring messages and music. God bless--you are both earning your angel wings!
V: Wow, what can you say Ausra?
A: That’s a very nice letter. Thank you Neil. And our English is not as delightful, at least not for my ears.
V: Many people say we have Russian accents, at least I do.
A: And it’s funny because the Lithuanian and Russian actually they stem from different language groups and they are not similar anyway.
V: And Latvian organ builder Janis Kalnins who worked on our church’s organ, St. Johns organ, he said that I have a Russian accent when I talk in English.
A: That’s funny because you can talk Russian very well.
V: But when I talk Russian what kind of accent do I have?
A: Lithuanian probably, maybe English.
V: Umm-hmm. I forgot most of my Russian of course, because we have been western oriented for so long.
A: True, true.
V: And of course interestingly enough, some YouTuber who watched my videos online said I look like Count Dracula with a funny accent.
V: Count Dracula is because of my teeth and funny accent is probably because of this Russian.
A: True. But the funniest thing is that when we lived in Ann Arbor for two years, Michigan, many people thought that we are from Germany, somehow, I don’t know why.
V: We look like from Germany to them probably.
A: (laughs.) Anyway we look like from nowhere in Europe because of all those blue eyes.
V: And relatively like here.
V: It’s nice that Neil’s father was Polish and he grew up in Lithuania.
A: But yes, I feel he sort of a little bit sorry for Americans who cannot learn languages very well because then you are living in a big country that has a need for it.
V: You have a need for Spanish for sure.
A: Yes, I guess so, yes, because remember when we lived in Nebraska for three years even in Lincoln we had a few places where you could find Spanish signs.
V: Umm-hmm. Bilingual.
A: Bilingual. On Mexican restaurants or at Mexican stores…
V: Or even in super-markets.
A: Yes and we had quite a few Mexicans living there and I guess the more south you go the more Spanish folks you would get.
V: I wish I knew how to talk in Polish.
A: True. And it’s funny because I spent most of my life in Vilnius where I was born and Polish folks did a great influence to Vilnius because at some time it even belonged to Poland. And I guess there are still some different feelings about that subject between Poles and Lithuanians. Well anyway but it’s my hometown so I consider as my town. But most of my relatives came from the southern part of Lithuania which was actually related to Germans and even in their language they still use some really German words. I don’t think they even know that those words are German.
V: For example?
A: Like for example “stube”. Who in Lithuania would call their house “stube?” (laughs.) Nobody but in that region but funny enough is that it is close to the Polish border and on the TV in the summer time you could watch the Polish channels so most of my cousins actually we learned Polish by watching the TV.
And they are so surprised and amazed and looks at me as a dummy because I don’t know Polish while living all my life in Vilnius. But actually on the street you cannot hear a lot of Polish speaking.
V: Unless you go to the villages and other small towns around Vilnius. Then there is a lot of Polish people.
A: Or you will go to a Polish mass.
V: Umm-hmm. Like the Church of the Holy Ghost where this famous 1776 Casparini organ is. It’s completely Polish congregation. No Lithuanian masses are held there. Only in Polish. So it’s really useful in that case if we knew some Polish I think we could connect much better with the Polish congregation.
A: True. I don’t think it would be so hard to learn it because you know Russian so Polish still is related to it. It is the same language group – Slavic. Well and I think it’s so wonderful that Neil is starting to learn to play the organ.
V: Good luck, Neil. We hope you will learn a lot and enjoy the process. And let us know how your progress goes and of course, you need organ shoes for that.
A: True. But if it’s really hard for you to find something maybe, I don’t know if in the United States there are people who do that, but I’m sure there must be some who actually make special shoes.
V: Custom shoes.
A: Custom shoes. They measure your foot and take measurements and do things.
V: It’s like when you go to the tailor and he could create a suit for you so the same is with shoemaker probably.
V: Do you think there are shoes without laces?
V: It would also be very comfortable for my feet because I am lazy.
A: I know you are too lazy to. For women yes, for men unfortunately not.
V: I haven’t seen. But you could maybe buy loafers which would look sort of similar to organ shoes, right? What you need is pointed toes and maybe two or three inches of heels, leather soles and that’s it probably. What else?
A: Well anyway I think for man it’s easier to find suitable shoes comparing to women.
V: And those loafers need to have thin soles, not thick, because you need to bend your or flex your soles and feet, sometimes.
A: Well yes.
V: Umm-hmm. Let us know how it goes, it will be interesting to see if you find any. And if you find any loafers that fit your feet and look good when you play the organ and fits well maybe you could take a picture and send it to us and we could share it on the blog.
V: Wonderful. Thank you guys for sending these 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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