Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 546 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Diana, and she is our Unda Maris organ studio student. She is practicing only the second year, and she writes that she struggles the most in coordination. Is this, Ausra, a common struggle for new organists?
A: It is, I think, very common.
V: More than pedal playing?
A: I think it’s all connected in between themselves.
V: When you were a beginner, or first started playing the organ decades ago, do you remember what was the most difficult thing for you?
A: Yes, I remember that it was playing the pedal together with the left hand. Especially if the direction was different for pedals and the left hand. Then I would want to play in the pedals the same as what was written in my left hand.
V: It’s basically the same thing that Diana is talking about, probably.
A: Yes, and I guess the only solution is to practice more in combinations, because you have to overcome this obstacle. Otherwise, you will just have to say goodbye to the organ.
V: Not to practice all parts together, but separately.
V: One voice at a time, then two voices at a time…
A: Well, I don’t think that one voice at a time would help, you know, unless you really are a very very beginner. But if you need to work on your coordination, it means that you have to practice two voices at once, because otherwise it will not give you any benefit to your coordination. So, I guess it would be right and pedal, left and pedal mostly.
V: And left and pedal is the most difficult to do.
A: Sure. So maybe if you are practicing one piece like five times through with your right hand and pedals, you need to do at least ten of that with your left hand and pedals.
V: If your main hand is your right hand; if you are right handed.
A: Yes, that is right.
V: If you are left handed, then maybe the left handed combination with the pedals is not so difficult. Ausra, when did you discover that you no longer struggle in coordination?
A: Well, to tell the truth, I never did. Of course, it became easier with years, but still, I wouldn’t say I feel as comfortable with my left hand as I feel comfortable with my right hand. I guess that’s just a thing with the brain. Of course, after practicing for many years, you can play anything smoothly, but I still don’t feel that my left hand is the same as my right. Do you?
V: No. My left hand is also weaker than the right hand, but it doesn’t stop me from practicing, or playing the organ, or improvising. Right?
V: It just takes more practicing.
A: Yes. Like we say at the end of each conversation, “When you practice, miracles happen.” It means it’s really to practice a lot in order for most miracles to happen, because all these things that we are talking about take time and they take patience. So you just have to stick with it.
V: Yeah. I guess people often lack patience, right? Because they want to achieve things fast. But with practice, it’s nothing fast. Sure, you can maybe get some quick results here and there, but in general, I think you cannot cheat yourself.
V: But still, I want to know the time frame, if Diana is struggling in her second year—in the middle of her second year now, do you think that in, let’s say, two more years, she would feel much more secure?
A: Well, I think so, but you know when you’re saying she’s playing the second year, it doesn’t say anything, because it depends on how much do you practice each day, and how sufficient your practice is. Because you know, some people practice for ten years in a row and they don’t make any progress.
V: You mean practice has to be efficient!
A: Yes, that’s right. And it has to be regular practice. If you will practice once a week, you won’t make any progress, either. So it’s basically very important to practice every day, especially for beginners.
V: Alright, I hope Diana can take advantage of our tips, and other people, if you struggle with coordination, as well. There is no workaround for this basic problem except playing in combinations of pedals and separate hands…
A: And in a slow tempo at first, too, which is also very important.
V: At least twice as slow as you would normally play.
A: That’s right.
V: At least! It could be even slower. Most likely slower than twice as slow. Maybe at 30% of tempo, let’s say. That would be kind of an achievable tempo for starters. Alright guys, this was Vidas,
A: And Ausra,
V: 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.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.