Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 469 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by William, and he writes:
“I worked on Meditation by Vierne. And the first page of Vierne Carillon. Very discouraging. Just can’t seem to bring tempos up after practicing. When you practice over and over slowly it is difficult to get pulse of to sound musical. Any thing I can do. Do I just keep going slow? At what point do you move tempo?”
V: Well Ausra, what do you think?
A: Well, it’s a tricky question, but it seems for me that maybe these pieces are too hard yet for William to play.
V: Either this, or I would add this special trick in reaching faster tempo by stopping, let’s say at each beat, holding the chord, preparing for the next chord, and playing notes in between the beats at a concert tempo—very fast. But in very short segments. And then, after one week maybe, I would double the segment when I stop, and stop after two quarter notes, maybe—a half note. Or later, I would do it stopping after each measure, and so double the fragment every week or so. Would that work?
A: Well, if you have patience. But it seems to me, from this message that maybe William wants to have a fast result, and to learn everything very quickly.
V: These are very difficult pieces—well, except Meditation, perhaps.
A: Yes, but Carillon, I’m talking about Carillon.
V: Yes, Carillon is difficult. So yeah. You have to arm yourself with patience and perhaps also at the same time work on several easier pieces, so that your technique will progress, and you would get faster results from other pieces, and more enjoyment.
A: I find myself, sometimes, that it is much harder for me to learn pieces that I know. I have listened so many times as, for example, this particular piece by Vierne I’m currently on, because you know it so well! But you haven’t played it, and you want to sit down on the organ bench and know how to play right away as you have heard on the recording.
V: Plus, the Carillon of Vierne really requires very good finger technique, because they have many parallel intervals, like double sixth, and that’s difficult.
A: I think this is a good piece to practice on the piano. Don’t you think so? ...the manual part.
V: True, yeah, I would do that. Absolutely. I would spend much of my practice on the piano, because the pedal part is not very complex.
A: Especially if you are playing not on the tracker organ. It doesn’t give your finger enough work to develop your muscles.
V: You mean workout.
A: Yes, workout. That way, piano could help.
V: Good advice, I think.
A: And I think, also, when working on achieving fast tempo, I think working on the piano would help, too.
V: Right. When we’re working on French symphonic music, we have to realize those people were excellent piano virtuosos, too, most of them, and had tremendous power in their fingers. Plus, French cathedral organs have very light touch, and it’s easier to play, of course, if you have great finger technique and a light touch on the keyboard.
A: But then there’s sort of also this danger, that when you are playing on a light keyboard all the time, you might lose control, and things might get muddy if you are playing fast all the time and are on a light keyboard. At least, that’s my experience with such kinds of pieces and…
V: I’ve read many times that the French school recommends also practicing piano works regularly, like etudes by Chopin and Liszt to improve your technique, and maintain your technique as well!
A: Yes, true. But I guess, you know, even playing etudes by Czerny wouldn’t hurt.
V: Yeah, also Hanon excercises. So, lots of ideas to apply for William and anybody else who is struggling with virtuoso music by Louis Vierne. Please, guys, 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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