SOPP570: What kind of materials will I expect to improve technique, sight-reading and hymn playing from your programs?
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 570 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Albert, and he is our Total Organist student now. He writes:
I was browsing on your website and just have a couple of questions.
I just want to know if I were to subscribe to your program, there are two things I want to develop.
My Technique (left and right hand manuals and both feet pedal playing)
Learning Hymns faster
What kind of materials will I expect to improve these from your programs?
Also I currently have a 61 key Hammond Organ/Keyboard and a 20 note Hammond Pedal will this be enough for me to make use of your program to achieve my goals?
V: Well, first of all, I wrote an email afterwards to Albert with the suggestion that he would become a Total Organist subscriber, so he did subscribe to the program, which is very nice. Hopefully he will get a lot of things out of this program like many other people are doing. But to answer his question, Ausra, what do you think? Sight-reading, for example. A lot of people seem to enjoy my Sight-Reading Master Course.
A: Yes! I think that’s a great course based on the “Bach’s Art of Fugue,” and if you can manage that, then it definitely will help you to learn hymns much faster.
V: Exactly, yes. Although his primary objective is playing hymns, maybe through sight-reading real organ pieces he will gain additional skills that will enable him to play real organ music later on. You see, when people say they want to learn hymns faster, they don’t necessarily mean that real organ music is not interesting to them. Maybe they don’t have the direct practical application to organ music, let’s say, during liturgy. But imagine if you were a church organist, Ausra, and you could play something from the real organ repertoire. Would you sometimes play it? Would you do it?
A: Of course I would do it.
V: As a prelude. As a postlude.
V: Why not, right?
A: Or during communion.
V: There are thousands of organists who don’t do this, and actually, the services then become a little much more boring, I think… service playing…
A: I remember when I was serving as an organist in Lithuania before our studies in The United States, I would mostly hate the time of Advent and of Lent because it was the hardest time for organists in Lithuania, because you were not allowed to play solo organ repertoire during Mass. And we had to sing a lot, because most often, churches could not afford to have a choir or a soloist. That would leave congregational singing, so the organist would have to do it, and it was tough, really. After singing the entire Mass and all the hymns during communion, and the opening hymn, ending hymn, it was really hard.
V: I think it’s unfortunate sometimes that people don’t play a real organ repertoire or improvise, let’s say, more sophisticated stuff, because after a while, you get used to playing hymns. You know all the hymns in your hymnal after a few years, and the cycle continues. You continue playing that in circles, and you no longer improve, actually, and it becomes boring, not only for musician who visit your church, as members of the congregation, or listeners, but to yourself, as well, because you’re not longer improving. And I ideally recommend making use of your sight-reading skills, and little by little starting to play preludes and postludes, and even communion pieces if there is a time for it in your congregations.
A: What about technique? Do you think your courses are useful in developing technique of your hands and pedals?
V: Well, I have this Pedal Virtuoso Master Course, which of course includes pedals scales and arpeggios over one octave, and two octaves. This is a really great course for improving ankle flexibility, which is the secret of perfect pedal technique.
A: And what about the manual part?
V: Well, for manuals I have Left Hand Training and Two Part Training! Those two courses are based on Bach’s Trio Sonatas. I transposed all those trio sonatas into all the different keys, and in the first course, Left Hand Training, I present them as just one single melody. So for people who want to improve left hand, they can practice with the left hand, but it’s not necessarily limited to that, you can practice with the right hand… the same melody, maybe one octave higher. You can even play with the pedals… the same melody. It would be more complex, but it’s possible, because let’s say in a trio sonata, there are three parts: Soprano, Middle part, and the Bass. I present all three of them in a specific order to play for a single voice for left hand, so there is no, let’s say, there isn’t any limitation for you to omit pedal playing for this. You can make it as a complete left hand, right hand, and pedal playing course out of it, if you want. And then comes Two Part Training. Two Part Training includes also different keys, much transpositions, but only for two voices: left hand and right hand, or for right hand an pedals, or for left hand and pedals. See?
A: So I guess this course would be really beneficial for Albert’s needs.
V: Yeah, sure!
A: And then he asks if his organ is sufficient to practice these courses. What would you say about it?
V: With manuals, there is no problem with 61 keys, obviously enough, but with 20 note pedals… 20 note… 2 octaves is 24 notes or 25 notes if you want to go up to treble C, right? So 20 note what… up to tenor G or something.
A: It’s from C to G. It’s an octave and a half.
V: Uh-huh. So you still can practice all those courses, but you sometimes have to drop either one note, or one motif or an entire phrase one octave lower, depending on which piece, or more musical.
A: Yes, so you have to adjust a little bit, you know.
V: And adjust your pedaling as well. Sometimes, if you drop a high note to a lower octave, it’s no longer useful to play it with your right foot. Maybe your left foot has to take over.
A: But still, you can learn a lot even having such an organ with a short pedal keyboard.
V: Definitely. Yes. So I hope this will be useful to Albert and to everyone else who is looking to improve their technique. So total organist is doing what it says to do, to try to develop total organist skills. Whatever you want to become, you can become with the Total Organist program. And not only that, it’s not limited. You can study music theory, harmony, and also improvisation training. You really will become a complete musician. Right Ausra?
V: Thank you 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.
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