Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 445 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Micky, And he writes:
My dream is to be a good sight reader and solving the note quickly. My problem is when I practice I am good but when I go to play it in the church I don't play it good with accuracy.
V: That’s a common problem, Ausra, right? That a person is good privately, but not so good publicly. I think we all are.
A: Yes, true. That’s what my kids always say to me in the classroom – “Oh, I played it at home and I was so good. But now here I can’t do it.” And then telling them, “It’s normal. Anybody experiences it. But it means you haven’t practiced enough, or you haven’t practiced the right way at home. Because, you know, you need to be ten times as good as you practice at home that you would play good in public.
V: Makes sense, I think. Because there are probably ten times as more distractions during public performance than you would normally face at home.
A: That’s right.
V: You’re not imagining that Mr. Bach is listening to you when you’re playing, right? Therefore, you’re not as stressed out. But, when everybody’s listening to you at church, you’re playing differently. You’re thinking differently, actually. And, um, it might feel more relaxing when people are chatting, when they’re not paying attention to you, like during postlude, they’re having conversation after the liturgy with their friends and family, and the organist is just playing, like background music.
A: Well, is it easier for you to play that way? For me, it’s harder. It’s harder to concentrate.
V: Well, it depends on where you sit. If you’re sitting in front, and you’re seeing all those people, then yes, it’s harder. But if you are in the organ balcony and you hear your own playing very well, then it’s not that distracting.
A: Well, but you know, that’s why I don’t like to play in the Cathedral of Vilnius, because during concerts, tourists can still go and leave free.
V: Mm hm.
A: And sometimes, you play in the middle of recital, and you feel like you are playing in the middle of the market, because you hear, you know, all those feet, you know…
A: Shuffling. And it’s not a nice thing. At least, I don’t like it.
V: Well, yes. I would recommend locking up the door and releasing them only after the last chord has been played. What do you say?
A: Well, but maybe then they would start to talk. And what would you do? Would you use duct tape?
V: Duct tape, exactly.
A: To shut them down?
V: You always have great ideas, Ausra.
A: Yes, I would go to jail for my ideas!
V: I would visit you once a month. No, maybe twice a month if you’re good to me.
A: Nice. I appreciate it.
A: But anyway, it’s a common problem for people like Micky, and like us, that know we are always doing better when we are playing just to ourselves.
V: And the way to overcome this is probably easier than it sounds. Just measure your own level of accuracy today and three months from now. Or even one month from now. If you’re playing with less mistakes after 30 days, or maybe after, you know, 12 weeks, then you are making progress and you’re on the right path. If the accuracy hasn’t improved over that time, then you need to change the way you practice probably, right Ausra?
A: Yes, because you know, making mistakes in public might be caused by two things. Either you lose your concentration, or there are still some spots in the piece that are more difficult than others. You need to check where are you making those mistakes.
V: Mm hm. And the way to increase your concentration and focus is to concentrate on your breathing, as we are frequently suggesting. But do this at home as well, not only in public. Practice concentrating on your breaths, and not breathe with shallow breaths, but take deep breaths. Slowly but deeply, and maybe even rhythmically. Pick up some rhythm, maybe once every two beats, or maybe once a measure or every two measures if it’s a fast tempo. See what works for you, right? That would be my suggestion.
A: Very wise.
V: Yes, I am very wise. Thank you, Ausra.
A: You’re welcome.
V: Are you wiser than me?
A: Stop doing that.
A: You know what.
V: Guys, if you want to keep this silliness going, please send us more 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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