Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 436, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Ruth, and she writes:
I am working hard on the pedal parts of every piece I practice. I do this at a large organ in a local church. I isolate the parts first and listen carefully and repeat. I then attempt to memorize, although that is s long process. All of this is a labor of love.
V: So, Ruth is our Total Organist student, and how do you understand her expression, ‘all of this is labor of love’?
A: I guess she just likes what she’s doing.
A: She really loves to practice pedals.
V: Mmm-hmm. Pedal parts are usually the hardest for beginners. I don’t know if she’s a beginner, but people who haven’t played organ before, pedals are especially difficult challenge to overcome and I think she does a good job of working on pedal parts more than on manuals, probably. Agree?
A: Yes, I think so. Usually pedal is what scares people the most when talking about organ playing, but I think after we manage it, I think it’s one of the part that gives most of the pleasure.
V: Do you isolate pedal parts from your manual voices, or not, when you practice?
A: Not so much now, but…
A: I did it when I just started to learn organ.
V: It all probably depends on the level where you are at.
V: If you are a good sight reader, then isolating pedal parts requires, maybe, in especially polyphonic pieces, like fugues and trio sonatas.
A: Yes. That’s what I wanted to point out that it depends on what kind of music. If it’s harmonic, then I do not separate pedals, but if it’s polyphonic then yes, it’s a good idea to work in combinations.
V: Mmm-hmm. Interesting that Ruth is memorizing those parts. What would you recommend, Ausra, to memorize, and would you memorize yourself?
A: Well, there are some tricky spots that I tend to memorize…
A: it helps me. But not the entire piece.
V: And, I would presume, your stance on this is because there are so many musical compositions to work on in the entire organ literature, and memorizing all of them that you play, would be very slow learning process…
V: not worth, for you. Right?
A: And usually I memorize either very tricky spots, or I memorize two last measures of the page and first two measures of the next page.
V: Uh-huh. Why?
A: That way if the page-turner is not very well organized, and slow, that way you can be secure.
V: Mmm-hmm. Sometimes page-turner turns the page from right to left, and from left to right, and vice-versa and mistakenly panics and makes a mess.
A: Or turns two pages at the same time.
V: Oh, yeah!
A: So, we have all kind of fun adventures.
V: Therefore, it’s good to memorize page turns—a couple of measures before and after. I also agree. I tend to print out my scores that way that I could myself turn the pages, but sometimes it’s even not possible, and therefore, I have to rely on page-turners as well. Interesting situation. Okay guys, we hope this was useful to you. Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
V: Miracles happen!
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.