Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 462 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by William, and he writes:
I want to learn Carillon of Westminster by Vierne, which I purchased score from you. I can play pieces like the Te Deum of Langlais. Dupre Cortège and Litany. Do you think I would be capable of learning this piece if I practice one page for a week or two very slowly? I am working now on relearning 8 little preludes and fugues. I don’t want to take on that much. Do you have any suggestions? Does it help to practice Vierne on piano? I have to start very slow practice to learn a piece. If I know it well, I can play any speed. I am 79 years old and still have full time cathedral job. Thank for any advice. ~Bill
V: Bill is our long-time customer, and he recently purchased Carillon of Westminster by Vierne and now he is a member of our Total Organist community as well.
A: That’s a wonderful piece to have in your repertoire list.
V: I didn’t imagine he was 79 years old, actually, and still has a full-time cathedral job, which is really wonderful.
V: Mm hm.
A: But you know, well, I just talked recently with my neurologist, and she told me there is strong evidence nowadays that people who started to play musical instruments when we were children don’t have so much chance of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s, or other neurological diseases, or if we have them, we sort of have a milder version of them.
V: Mm hm.
A: Because obvious, neurons in your brain, the coordination that requires musical instrument, and probably music itself, too, has a very good effect on your brain.
V: Well, you’re right, Ausra.
A: So we probably shouldn’t be surprised that Bill is 79 years old and still holds full-time organist position. It’s wonderful. I think he should be an inspiration for others.
V: Definitely. You’re never too old to practice organ playing, I think.
V: And set yourself a goal, maybe a lofty goal, maybe unreachable a little bit goal, but definitely goal like that, to learn Carillon of Westminster by Vierne is something that Bill could certainly have in his short-term plan, I think.
A: Well, and I think answering his question, I think it would be very helpful to play this piece on the piano. I think it’s helpful to play any piece by Louis Vierne on the piano. It’s very helpful. When I was working on his First Symphony, I played it on the piano a lot.
V: Mm hm. Definitely. Piano sort of is tricky to play because the sound fades and you have to be really precise at your depression of the keys. With the organ you have to be also precise with releases of the keys, right? And the resistance of the mechanical piano action is sometimes even more difficult than mechanical organ, I would say. And obviously…
A: It depends on what kind of organ you play.
V: Mm hm. And obviously almost always more difficult than electronic organs.
A: So if you know, you play on the piano, you give work for the muscles, which I think is a good thing.
V: It’s a bigger workout for your fingers and palm muscles.
A: But usually people have more easier access to the piano than to the organ, so if you can practice on the piano, too, you can spend more time practicing. Maybe you have piano at home, so you don’t have to work every time at the church to practice, you can work or do at least some work at home.
V: Mm hm. If I’m learning a piece like that, I would probably aim for one page a day. But at the age of Bill, I think it’s normal to take it one page for a week, or two weeks, even. To slow down and take it at a comfortable pace.
V: Right? Then this piece, I mean, you will still learn it. Maybe not in a month or so, but you will still learn this year.
A: But of course, when you’re learning a new page every week, let’s say, you need to repeat the previous pages too.
A: Because otherwise, maybe when you will practice your last page and you want to be repeating, you know, other pages, you might start all over from the beginning to learn it. Of course, it will be easier than learning it completely from scratch, but still.
V: Exactly. And I think it’s really great to sometimes practice from the last page. Take the last page, then 2 last pages, 3 last pages, starting from the ending, don’t you think?
A: Yes, that’s good too.
V: Especially if the beginning is easy.
V: In this particular piece, I think beginning is not so easy, because you have those double sixths right away, double intervals, and your right hand still needs to work pretty hard.
A: But you know, since you have learned it, I think this sort of formula will keep going throughout the piece.
V. Mm hm.
V: Yes, definitely Bill can put this piece on his list of things to learn this year, I think.
A: Sometimes, learning music like this and playing on the piano, I love to sing the pedal part while playing on piano the manual part.
V: Mm hm. And if he has a full-time cathedral job, then imagine how will his congregation appreciate one day to be able to hear this piece as a postlude, for example.
A: Yes, I think it’s a wonderful postlude.
V: It might not come, you know, soon, but after a number of months, it’s possible I think.
V: Mini-recital, maybe a couple more pieces. That would be great. Like we have in our cathedral of Vilnius, every Thursday during summertime, we have series of lunchtime recitals of 20-25 minutes long, and tourists and visitors of the cathedral will love this place and it’s always full, attended very well. And you only have to play like something like three pieces all together.
A: Yes, I think such recitals are very good, especially for tourists. Because usually, if you would play an hour long recital, probably not many tourists would stay throughout it. And it would be very distractive if people would start to leave, or to change between themselves in the middle of your playing.
V: All right, guys, we hope this was useful to you. Please send your wonderful questions in the future. 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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