SOPP560: I think now that I have received a few items of fingered music from you, I would love to be back on the organ bench playing confidently and also with feeling for the music
Vidas: Hi, guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra
V: Let’s start episode 560, of Secrets Of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Maureen. And she writes:
Hello Vidas and Ausra,
I think now that I have received a few items of fingered music from you, I would love to be back on the organ bench playing confidently and also with feeling for the music; to be accurate and musical. I had dreamed of playing the Widor Toccata. It is not easy to access a church organ in my area.
V: So I think Maureen is writing about her dreams and the obstacles in achieving those dreams. So the first one would concern about the thing of getting back, getting back on the organ bench, basically, and playing confidently. What would be some advice about this, Ausra?
A: Just go back and play, practice.
V: I think before playing confidently, she has to play without confidence first, for a while.
A: I think confidence will come with time. You need to practice on a regular basis.
V: And perform in public.
V: Without that, your practice is kind of limited, without real life applications basically, only for yourself. When you practice only for yourself you don’t know how well you’re really playing.
A: Yes, and she also talks about feeling for the music. I think that some can feel music better, some don’t. And I think to get the feeling for the music you need to listen to other performance, and not necessarily organist. In general, you need to listen to music performed.
V: To get an intuition, right?
V: To get musical taste.
A: Yes. Because for some people that comes more natural. For some it’s harder. I think it’s probably depends on the qualities that you receive during the birth probably. It’s all genetic.
V: The good thing about listening to music is that you can do all kinds of activities and simply listen in your ear with earphones while streaming music for example today. Or from CD recordings in your house, and really do something else with your time, which still would count as listening...
V: and studying.
A: Because I guess there are sort of two ways; either you know you are very good at the music theory and you understand how the music is composed, how it’s put together, the other cadences and all that form thing, and then you do all this with your mind. You sort of build up the piece and you register it and perform it accordingly, your mind, or you are very good, you have very good musical intuition, and you can do the same things even without thinking about them.
V: Then of course you would have a very hard time explaining this to other people.
A: Yes. I think, if you want to be a good teacher, yes, then you would have not only have a good intuition but to know exactly how the things work and what you can by you think that the things must be played in such a way and not another way.
V: Yes, and no. Depending on what kind of student you have.
A: Yes. If you will have a student of good musical intuition then you wouldn’t have to work hard on those things.
V: For such a student you would only need to be an example, right, like a role model. And they would take it from there themselves. They’re learning by doing and basically by looking up to you. But not necessarily looking from you for the directions, what to do, what steps to take. But other students want you to take them by the hand, hold them all the way up and to take them through the various obstacles and uh, challenges. Then you really need to be a good motivator as well as explain things very clearly.
A: I guess that it depends on what age group we are talking and what kind of personalities we are talking. Because I think that for kids, for example, at an early age, it’s easier to imitate what you are doing. You just play how it should be played and they try to repeat what you have just done. Because I think for them, might be too hard to understand all this language thing, explaining about how piece must be played. I think it works better with adults.
V: Mmmmm, yeah. And not all of adults also progress to the levels where they are willing or able to practice independently.
A: Yeah, that’s true.
V: Some people really need a coach, like athletes.
A: Yeah, I guess so.
V: Without a coach, athletes wouldn’t reach high results. So now Maureen wants to be accurate and musical. So musical, we talked about that.
A: Yes. Yes, we talked about it.
V: Accuracy comes with experience and really from failing a lot, I think. You have to first make many mistakes before you can play with accuracy.
A: Well, I think that accuracy comes with slow practice. That’s what I think—the slow practice, diligent, slow practice, comes the accuracy. Because if you will play fast and sloppy I don’t think you will gain accuracy. Even if you will play that for hundred times.
V: I didn’t mean that, of course. You’re right. And she wants to play Widor Toccata, and we have a score with fingering and pedaling provided for her. And I hope this is useful for her, fingering and pedaling.
A: Yes, and she cannot easy access a church organ, as she writes. But if she can access piano, for example, then I think that she can practice quite a lot on the piano, when talking Widor’s Toccata.
A: And when talking about any piece of French music.
V: Definitely. I think most of the work can be done on the piano with such a music, and even if you play the pedals on the floor, imitating the spots where you have to press them for specific notes, this will greatly improve your progress when you will have access to real organ.
A: True. And I believe if you can play this piece on the piano with imitating pedal part and if you can also sing a pedal part, that would be very useful too. Then I think you will have no trouble preforming it on a real organ.
V: Yeah. For men it means that they can sing mostly in their range. For women mostly, it means they have to sing octave higher.
A: Yeah, I explained that to my students all the time. Because we always have these questions, for example, a girl asked me, ‘how do I sing in this low register?’ I’m telling you don’t have to sing in it.
A: What do you expect of all the boys after mutation? To sing what, in the second octave, when the music is written like that?
V: Right. They have to figure it out.
V: Thank you guys. We hope this useful to you. 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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