Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 514 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Lawrence. And he writes:
Hello Vidas, In your last note to me, you asked me what challenges me. I find pedal playing a challenge because it is relatively new to me. I have only had this organ for a year and a half. All through my playing life I have found sight reading to be difficult. I also need to practice in a more structured way. I think your practice video should be a big help.
Thank you, Lawrence.
V: Let’s start from the ending, ok?
V: He mentions my practice video. Lawrence just recently subscribed to my, to our newsletter, and when person is new on our list, they first get this free 10-day organ playing mini course. And on day one, they get this video how to play, how to master any organ composition. Where I teach to play Bach’s chorale prelude from Orgelbüchlein, Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ. And probably, he refers to this video.
A: Yes, I guess so.
V: It’s interesting. I created this video at the beginning of our online activity, back in 2011, at the end of 2011, so what, eight years, almost? And it’s still relevant, it’s still helpful.
A: And it will be relevant, I believe. Because it’s a beautiful piece. Most of us who play organ love Bach, so.
V: Exactly. For Lawrence, sight reading is difficult. This is natural, because sight reading involves playing music that is unfamiliar to you. And if you haven’t done this before too much, then it will remain difficult.
A: Well, it will come with practice. The more repertoire you will learn, the easier sight reading will get for you. And also, the other thing that helps to become a better sight reader is knowing music theory. Because, now when I teach keyboard harmony and general functional harmony and music theory and solfege for 14 years, I have no trouble reading any kind of music at all. Reading in any key. I can you know, sight read easily from 7 flats and 7 sharps, and it doesn’t bother me at all.
V: Mm hm. That’s good.
A: Because that’s experience. Because I remember my theory professor at EMU University, Anthony Iannaccone who would tell us, If you are watching at every interval and you are still thinking what that interval is, it means you don’t know it well enough. Because it just needs to go automatically without much thinking.
V: Exactly. How much, how many hours do you teach in a week on average, Ausra?
A: Well, on average, it’s, well, at least 23.
A: At least.
V: So in one month, would be what, 90 hours perhaps?
V: Approximately. 100 maybe?
V: Maybe. Let’s make it an even number and say it’s 100 hours per month. How many months are in your school year?
A: Nine. Because then on the 10th month, we have exams.
V: Ah, so, okay. You are teaching for nine months. So then, this means that you’re teaching for about 900 hours per year.
A: Yeah, and why do you need to calculate anything? What will it do?
V: How many hours for 14 years?
A: Well, I’m not so good with numbers, if you like to count, then you do it.
V: Ok. Ten years would be 9,000 hours. But plus four years, 13,600 I believe.
V: Do you know, Ausra, how many hours does it take to reach mastery?
V: Well, it depends. You can do the same thing over and over again your entire life and still don’t become a master at anything. But what I mean is deliberate practice. Meaning that when you teach somebody, you are striving to do your best, right, and to improve yourself, I would suspect.
A: Yeah. True.
V: Yes? So it takes about 10,000 hours to reach this level of mastery in any kind of difficult skill. Organ playing, harmony, teaching, the same thing. Were you a good teacher at the beginning, or now? The same kind of teacher, or did you progress?
A: No, definitely not. Because it was very hard for me to teach at the beginning, it would take so much of my energy.
V: So definitely you advanced. That was my front point. So you see, if people practiced for let’s say 10 years or 14 years with the same occupation, like you teach, they would become relatively in a high state of improvement, I would say, in organ playing, or harmony, or whatever you want.
A: But maybe you wouldn’t need to set up a goal that takes 10 years for you to reach. Because you need I think the short term goals more.
V: Yes. But this is world class level. You could teach in any high school, high, not high but college or university in the world now, correct?
A: Yes, I could teach these subjects easily.
V: Mm hm. This is world class. So, for people who want to reach world class in their skill set, I think there is no shortcut. But for people who would just simply enjoy improving themselves day after day, and in their organ playing skills, reach a higher level little by little, I think they can take things less seriously. Right?
A: True, true.
V: Okay, guys. 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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