Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 431 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. And before we go to the podcast question for today, we’d just like to express our feelings about what happened at Notre Dame a little bit. Right, Ausra?
A: True. Such a tragedy.
V: How do you feel about it?
A: Well, I feel very sad, as I think many people feel right now. And now, reading all those expressions that Macron promises to rebuild it, to rebuild it even more beautiful, already seems for me like somebody’s making for himself political dividends! Because right now, I’m sort of worried that because of the water and of all that damage, it could collapse.
V: The first, most important present task would be to secure the structure of the cathedral, what is left, and preserve it from collapsing, so that the remaining artifacts and instrument, the Grand Organ, I think, has survived in some shape, we don’t know yet what kind of condition it is in, but if this structure wouldn’t hold, for example, because there is lots of water on the vault above the church, and it would be tragic to see it collapse. Another idea is to take the organ apart and preserve it in some workshop, and then later assemble it when it’s completely rebuilt, and when the cathedral is rebuilt.
A: I guess you cannot do that right now, because you cannot even enter the cathedral. It has to stay like this until Friday, until the water will dry and it will be possible to enter.
V: So, imagine if it’s soaked up with water, everything is flooded with water, when it’s dried up, I’m not an engineer, but it seems to me that everything will shrink a little bit, and there might be cracks in the walls and structures, and how that will affect the resistance of the walls and vault, I don’t know.
A: In general, I think that it’s a horrible thing that in the 21st century, all the world could watch on the TV how really one of the most beautiful and important cathedrals in the world just goes in fire like that, and couldn’t do anything, because at the beginning, it seemed that nothing happens at all, that nobody even tries to put the fire down, which is horrible. I don’t know who did that reconstruction and how all of this began, but it’s unforgivable, I think.
V: I think we have to just wait for the investigation to reveal some details, if it will reveal the real causes—I don’t know—but, I’m hopeful. So, as sad as it is, I think the life still must go on, and we still have to practice the organ the best we can, and we have to try to answer Sally’s question today. So Sally wrote:
“I struggle with finding time to work on expanding my organ skills and techniques. It seems I spend most of my time at the organ prepping for choir rehearsal and weekend Mass. I also work full time, so there not a lot of hours available for practice.”
So this is a very common situation, when people work full time and they don’t have, seemingly, time to practice the organ.
A: Well, then just try to improve your skills during your preparation for choir! I guess I assume she’s talking about accompaniments, yes? You could also expand your skills on playing accompaniment, if you will do it mindfully.
V: And she needs to prepare for weekend Mass, which probably involves playing organ.
A: True! So she spends quite a lot of time playing, maybe she’s not practicing what she would wish for, but it’s still a practice.
V: At this stage of your life, Ausra, if you had to play in church, would you spend a lot of time playing hymns?
A: Definitely not.
V: Right? So, what it means, is that you can kind of gradually mix them together—hymns and techniques—and maybe even repertoire, and once your techniques and repertoire are much more developed, you will have an easier time to prepare for weekend Masses, I think.
A: I guess it’s the same as teaching for school, for example. For the first few years, I really had to struggle, and I really had to prepare for every class that I would teach, but you know, after having experience teaching for 13 years, I don’t need to do it anymore, because I have enough experience just to keep me going, basic like, and do many things really mechanically. It’s all there, and I guess it’s the same with playing organ service. Of course, sometimes you need to do something special, and maybe add something special and learn new things and add new things, but in general, it may be quite automatic.
V: And for me, too, I’m working with technology for many years now, since I first started Secrets of Organ Playing back in 2011. I was doing this alone at first, and later Ausra joined in, but she’s always responsible with content, with ideas. Technology is left to me. Which means, at first, I had to figure out how to do it, and it was a slow process. But I didn’t give up, and taught myself some things, and at first it was simple things, then gradually advanced things, but now what I do doesn’t take much time for me to maintain the things that I need to do on a daily basis, because the experience is there, and my skills are quite fast, I think, with computers. I’m not a coder, not a programmer, but what I’m doing—publishing, editing—those things come to me very naturally, now. But, of course, there are always new things on the horizon to learn, so I’m kind of looking out for some innovations that I could apply, also. So, it kind of relates to Sally’s situation, also. At first, she has to spend some time developing the skills, and then later there will be less time required to maintain it, but mixing some time to add some more new skills, because this current level never is satisfying. Right? We always move on and move up, hopefully forward, hopefully improving ourselves.
A: Yes, there’s always something new, totally new.
V: Okay guys, we hope this was useful to you, so keep your minds and hearts focused on Notre Dame, maybe donate something to the funds of restoration, if there are some options. I haven’t seen some accounts or some foundations set up yet, because it’s too early. It has just happened two days ago as we are recording. We are recording Wednesday morning, and it just happened Monday night. So, by the time you guys hear this conversation, there might be more details about what has been preserved, what has not, and we are also looking forward to finding out everything we can, and we will keep you up to date, as well. So, stay tuned. We hope you will keep sending us more of your questions, because we love helping you grow, guys. 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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