SOPP442: Now I have to drill it every year or my fingers seem to fall into the wrong place at the wrong time
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 442 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Erika, and she writes:
“I’m working on the choir piece for Easter. Beautiful piece. Quite a bit trickier than I usually do. It’s become an Easter tradition. A couple of sections are like a fugue and there is one section that I didn’t practice as I should have when I first learned it several years ago. So now I have to drill it every year or my fingers seem to fall into the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Ausra, does it sound familiar?
A: True! It sounds so familiar.
A: Even painfully familiar. Because, that’s what I did in my youth when I would learn music incorrectly, or wouldn’t work on certain spots as well as I had to. And I have said this many times already, but I will repeat it once again, that it’s easier to learn a new piece than it is to correct an old one that you have learned incorrectly. Don’t you agree?
V: Exactly. If you imagine teaching your dog some tricks, it’s easier to teach a new trick to your dog than to change some variation of the same trick to the same dog.
A: Well, I’m not a dog trainer, so don’t know, exactly.
V: But you’re training me!
A: Well, it’s a hard job!
V: How is it going?
A: Not well! So far not well! Not too much progress!
V: But you are a good coach, right?
A: I don’t know. I’m not sure.
V: You give me treats!
A: I’m not sure.
V: Treats in the form of sweets!
A: Well, that’s not a good way to train anybody, you know, because you might get diabetes!
V: Exactly. You have to punish for mistakes, instead of rewarding them. Right Ausra?
A: I think you are nonsensical!
V: Excellent! So, do you think Erika could reward herself a little bit for her achievements on some piece? Do you think that this would help her develop good habits?
A: That might be a case, but I’m wondering, since it’s not a new piece and she’s repeating it not for the first time and she still struggles in the same spots, I would suggest strongly for her to rethink her fingering, and to restudy those spots, because something might be really wrong with them. Because it shouldn’t be like this, if you are repeating this piece over for many years.
V: Yes, that’s what she writes; she “has to drill it every year, or my fingers seem to fall in the wrong place.”
A: Or it could be that those particular spots are just really difficult, and simply you have to work more on them.
V: Even for choir accompaniment, sometimes it’s important to write down fingering.
A: True, and since it’s accompaniment, you could actually change it a little bit. You might omit or rearrange some things if it really gives trouble.
V: I agree.
A: Of course, to give more specific advice, I would have to check the score for myself, and then I could suggest what you could omit or do another way or differently.
V: Yeah, it’s hard to be specific when we don’t even know the name of the piece.
A: Because you know, if an accompaniment is originally, let’s say, composed for the organ, then it might not be a good idea to play it differently. But often, the case of accompaniment is that the piece wasn’t composed originally for choir and organ. It might be composed for a choir and piano, or choir and orchestra, or choir and instrumental ensemble. So, you really need to check the origin of the piece.
V: It might have been a piece for choir and orchestra arranged for choir and piano.
A: That’s right. So, in that case, if it’s not an original piece, you are free, actually, to do things that you need for the accompaniment to make it to fit the organ and to make it comfortable for yourself.
A: Because if you are accompanying choir or ensemble or any other instruments or soloists, and if you will not feel comfortable with your accompaniment, it won’t be good, because it’s you who are giving support, who are basically leading the entire choir.
V: You’re right, Ausra. Can it be done on the spot, or do you have to write it down.
A: Well, I would do it on the spot. Maybe I would add some markings in the score, or cross off some things.
V: I think this would….
A: But I would not rewrite the entire score.
V: I think we will put it to practice this summer, as well, because we are committed to performing a symphonic poem by a Lithuanian Romantic composer and painter, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, and this symphonic poem is called “In the Forrest,” and we are playing from the arrangement for two pianos. And we are sitting on one organ bench, performing on separate manuals, but on one instrument, and not the piano, and on the organ. So, obviously, we will have to adapt it to fit the texture of the organ. But, we’re not going to write it down; we are doing it on the spot.
A: That’s right, because we don’t have time to rewrite it all, so…
V: “Necessity is the mother of invention,” as they say. So maybe Erika could also develop the skill of rearranging a little bit, some things. Thanks 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,
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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