Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 425, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. And this time, Colin writes:
Thank you for the bonus materials for the Pedal Virtuoso Master Course, I shall look forward to working on them.
V: Ausra, would you like to take a look at what kind of bonus material I’m sending?
A: Sure, of course, I would be very interested.
V: Okay. I’m sending three things. Right away when they sign up, or the first day after they sign up, they’re receiving a bonus video training, which is “How to play the C Major Scale on the Pedals”. This is my most popular video on YouTube.
A: Ah, interesting. People are interested in fun things. Although it’s not that easy to play, the C Major Scale, on the pedals. I think some other scales are more comfortable.
V: Uh-uh. Let me take a look at how many views it has. People are eager to learn C Major Scale but not so much C minor. (Vidas is looking for the video.) It was published back in 2012 and it has 70’223 views right now.
A: Wow! If you would live, I don’t know, 500 hundreds more years, you might reach the numbers of Lady Gaga!
V: Haha yeah, and Lady Gaga would reach like gazillions numbers! So this is the video sent on day 1, after signing up for this course. Then I’m sending people two more things: 12 weeks and 13 weeks after they sign up, they receive Bonus practice material number 1 and number 2.
A: Which is?
V: Number 1 is “Pedal Exercitium”, BWV 598, by J-S. Bach and some scientists believe it might have been written by C-P-E. Bach, Bach’s most prominent son. Nevertheless, this piece is a classic exercise for pedal playing. And I have prepared the complete pedaling for this piece, and people have to make sure they use detached articulate style, articulate legato touch which is used for early music.
A: I remember I had to play this piece, during my first year of organ studies at the academy of music in Lithuania. And my teacher required that I would play this during my exam actually. I was quite embarrassed actually, because I was the only one that was required to play some solo piece for the exam. But I think I did quite well. And what I like about this piece, beside teaching you to play baroque music, how to articulate, actually it’s quite beautiful in itself. It’s really not a boring exercise. If you listen and study carefully this particular piece, you can find that there’s actually two distinctive melodies in the same piece, even though it’s written in one voice.
V: Right. With Bach and other baroque composers, the case is that the less voices you have, the more fluid the melody becomes. And if you have a solo voice, like in the pedals, somehow the composer needs to make sure that the harmony is there, and he makes use of arpeggios, things like that, and sometimes pretends that there’s a second voice in the top and at the bottom. So at the pedals it’s very prominent because you have two legs.
A: Well, not so much.
V: Not so much, yeah. You’re focusing on the process not on the result. Results probably will come by themselves.
A: That’s true. And now that you have started to talk about that, I remember that beautiful cello piece by Bach (the Prelude from the Cello Suite No. 1), that Yo Yo Ma played so beautifully and other famous celloists.
V: Do you think that people could play it on the pedals?
A: Well yeah I believe so. You could do it on the pedals. But sometimes my students start arguing: “why do I need to learn harmony? What good is it to me?” And usually choir conductors or piano majors understand why we need to understand harmony, because we deal with more than one voice, but flutists or violonists, they don’t think about that. But we really need to know harmony because let’s say you play Bach and have one voice, you still don’t think about it as having just one line, because in itself it contains all the harmony.
V: This is true. It would be fun actually to play all the unaccompanied cello suites by Bach on the pedals. It’s a good exercise. It would be interesting to transcribe.
A: It’s wonderful how in one voice you can hear so many things and do so many things. That’s the genius of Bach I guess.
V: But the pedaling has to be adjusted somehow. I believe that toes-only technique wouldn’t be easy to do.
A: True, true.
V: Because sometimes you need to play with big leaps and almost legato so then heel and toe technique needs to be adjusted because it’s rather advanced.
A: But I guess it would be OK because it’s not originally intended for organ pedals so we could give us more freedom.
V: Right. So guys, if you need something for the pedals, extra-exercises, go take a look at 6 unaccompanied Bach’s cello suites, and if you need some help from us, like extra pedaling let us know. Maybe I could create some videos and send them to our team to transcribe, and prepare the score this way for you. That would be a good exercise for early music Pedal Virtuoso Master Course.
A: And what is your last bonus?
V: Bonus number 2 is a piece by Charles-Valentin Alkan, who was a 19th century French composer and virtuoso pianist, and he created many etudes for piano but also for the organ pedals solo, I think 20 pedals solos. And I prepared a score with pedaling of the first one. It’s again a very advanced piece but now we are dealing with the legato technique and you can play with heels and toes. And if you don’t feel right about some markings, you can adjust, because some people have smaller feet so they have some problems.
A: But it's nice because it teaches different technique compared to Pedal Exercitium by J-S. Bach.
V: Yes. Again, if you would like to learn all 20 of them, let me know and I could prepare those videos for our team and this way you would get transcribed scores with pedal markings as well. Alright, so take a look at our Pedal Virtuoso Master Course, it has 12 weeks of material + bonus exercises, as we were discussing a moment ago. At the end of the course you’ll really start to feel that you gained greater flexibility of the ankle, which is the secret of the perfect pedal technique. At the end of the course you might be not be able to play anything that is written for the pedals, just yet, but I can guarantee that if you go back to some of the pieces that you could not play three to six months ago, you would definitely see some genuine improvement. Right Ausra?
A: Yes, I’m pretty sure about that.
V: People have written multiple times about that, about seeking improvement, and not one person said “No, after 3 months of practicing pedals I didn’t see any improvement!”. People who didn’t finished this course, it was for different reasons: perhaps it was too difficult for them, or they were not into exercises at all: they might prefer genuine organ music. And that’s OK, there are several types of people. But for those who like it, scales arpeggios etc, it is a perfect opportunity to get flexibility of the ankle. OK guys, this was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions, we love to help 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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