Yesterday we had Unda Maris organ studio rehearsal No. 2 this season. Since @drugelis had to leave early for her class, I let her play first. She played 2 voice setting of the chorale "Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten" by Johann Ludwig Krebs. She really has made a good progress since she started playing the organ from scratch regularly participating in our contest and now she needs to work more on the pieces with pedals and legato touch and also advance with her Baroque pieces as well.
Last week I tried to listen to as many students as possible play something in order to assess their skill level and asked to bring some music this week. So now two gentlemen played for me some keyboard works of Bach that they knew beforehand.
One was 3 voice Sinfonia No. 7 in E minor and the other - 3 voice fugue in C minor from Well-Tempered Clavier Part I. Both of them showed some potential. I started emphasizing correct articulation for early music right away. Obviously coming from piano background most of the pieces they practiced before were legato because they used older editions with editorial legato signs. So I advised them not to pay attention to these markings and aim for articulate legato touch.
In order to discover this touch they first have to play a passage using just one finger. Then - they will naturally play with articulation. Not too detached, obviously, not too choppy but in a more singable, cantabile manner. When playing with one finger becomes clear, they can imitate the same touch using all the fingers.
Then we made an experiment - I asked 5 ladies to play the right hand part of the 1st Short Trio by Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens, 19th century Belgian composer and organist who basically founded the French Romantic school. I was surprised to find out that all of them had the power to sightread it rather well with the right hand. This means that if they can master just one part, they can eventually master all 3 parts as well.
@elitot which you might remember from an early round of Secrets of Organ Playing Contest came to this rehearsal as well but couldn't play because she hurt her wrist. I advised her to start playing scales and arpeggios on organ pedals, like Marcel Dupre did in his youth when he cut his wrist.
We also discussed what kind of shoes does the organist need when playing pedals. The soles and heels have to be made out of leather, smooth surface, not too long or wide. The heel has to be about 3 cm high. Organist shoes are not to be used on the street because the dirt might damage the mechanics of the pedalboard.
So now I'm eagerly waiting for our rehearsal No. 3 next week where I could compare people's skills and actually hear some progress (I just sent them some music to choose and start working on).
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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.