Conversations about all things organ playing. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene talk with experts from the organ world - concert and church organists, improvisers, educators, composers, organ builders, musicologists and other people who help shape the future of our profession.
This question was sent by Brigitte, and she writes:
“Thanks Vidas for the complete pedaling and instructions. It has created a great opportunity for me to focus on the pedal technique for early music beyond toes only.”
This question was sent by Luis Garcia, and he writes,
Dear friends: I live in Spain and here there are few organ teachers. Pedal Technique is a mystery here. I need to learn how to play pedals without looking at the pedalboard and with a mind strategy. Some teachers recommend to slide the foot counting the intervals. I think that it may well be in some times but not all the time. Others recommend memorizing the gaps in the pedalboard. And the worst teachers don't recommend anything. Even it is very difficult to see organists with organ shoes. Spain is a bad country to learn how to play the pipe organ.
Remember that I am interested in a romantic technique. I know that you like Baroque music.
Please, try to help me. Thank you.
This question was sent by James, and he writes about my piece called “Nassat, from the Organ ABC”:
“The speed of this piece and transparency of registration made me appreciate how generous the acoustic is at your church. I’m still stuck on Krummhorn and Larigot”.
This question was sent by Robert, and he writes,
I completed your Pedal Virtuoso Master Course in late August and upon your request, below you will find my feedback.
Without a doubt, I am very happy to have taken your course! I discovered it online at the beginning of June after searching for ways to improve my pedal technique which was holding my organ playing back. My goals consisted of learning how to sit comfortably on the organ bench so that I could play the pedals and maintain my balance, discover for myself how to develop more flexibility in my ankles, and learn how to use my feet more efficiently in order to play more advanced passages as well as reduce strains put on my foot muscles and joints (i.e., prevent future injuries).
After spending twelve weeks working on the given assignment for the day, to my surprise, each goal saw improvement and not just a slight improvement! Although I often needed more than fifteen minutes to work on a given assignment, my feet now know where to go and my hips and body now support my balance and the ability to play a passage legato while avoiding foot strain. One thing I did that helped solidify what I had learned in previous weeks, was to review previous assignments in addition to the daily assignment. Currently I am reviewing the course by playing every scale and arpeggio from a given tonality three times a day for one week (this is my fourth week, so I am reviewing scales and arpeggios in E minor which is Day 1, No. 4 from each of the twelve weeks).
This question was sent by William, and he writes,
Thank you for putting together this course. My sight reading of notes and rhythms both improved significantly from 9 months ago. It also improved my sight reading of dense passages of music. The areas that gave me a little trouble (that I need to continue working on) are the counting of 32nd notes and irregular rhythms (triplets against 2 eighth notes / 4 sixteenth notes / dotted eighth note and a sixteenth note). Regards, Bill
This question was sent by Brigitte, and she writes:
“Hi Vidas and Ausra,
The more complicated rhythms are my favorites for sight-reading. Also I have been listening to recordings from Art of the fugue and did some research as I was wondering about the meaning of the different parts.
There must be so much more that can be learned from the Art of the fugue.
The variations of the Genevan Psalms are of interest to me too. Can I find them somewhere together to come back to them?
Enjoy following you and learning from you.
This question was sent by Brigitte, and she writes,
The variations of the Genevan Psalms are of interest to me. Can I find them somewhere together to come back to them?
I enjoy following you and learning from you.
This question was sent by Markus, and he writes:
“At the moment I started to play hymns. Some time in the future I want to do church service. And I want to improvise hymns over modern pop and musical music just by hearing the song in the radio. A really high challenging goal for a late-beginner, I know. :)
Therefore I really appreciate your melodic dictation course.
This question was sent by David, and he writes,
"I didn't see this video when it was posted because I was buried with work at the time. Thank you for posting it and this podcast. This week, I am experiencing the same thing, but with a simple hymn that I should have no trouble with, but one measure is just not coming, and I, too, felt like hitting the (imitation) organ as I was practicing... (but I didn't do it... it already doesn't fully function properly on Sunday mornings). This made me realize that sometimes this is a normal thing to experience."
This question was sent by Graham, and he writes about the video where I introduce my Hauptwerk set-up on YouTube. Hauptwerk set-up and streaming set-up, to be precise. He writes,
As others have already commented, Vidas, a really useful and helpful upload explaining how you produce such wonderful recordings - though as amazing as all this technology is, it would mean nothing if it was not for your truly fabulous playing and teaching! As you know, I am a big fan of James. He recently played some Clementi on the organ and I commented with a reference to the contest between Mozart and Clementi in 1781. So I am going to make the same judgement as Emperor Joseph II, who diplomatically declared a draw between those two great composers. I declare a draw between the massive amount of wiring and equipment both you and James have. Just looking at all those 'tripping hazards' gives me palpitations. At least my humble Viscount Chorum just plugs in and plays . . . but of course, does not give me access to some of the greatest organs in the world! Thank you, Vidas.
This question was sent by Ian, and he writes:
“The organ world needs more videos like this - however experienced and skilled you are, practice is sometimes slow, difficult and/or frustrating. It helps everyone if we're open about it. Thanks for sharing!”
This question was sent by Robert, and he is a student of Pedal Virtuoso Master Course. And he has a question which sounds like this,
I just finished the tenth week of your Pedal Virtuoso Master Class. Unlike previous weeks when I come to the last day, I still have issues maintaining a proper sense of balance while seated on the organ bench. This affects my accuracy (I either hit an extra pedal in one foot, miss a pedal, or slide off the correct pedal and into a non chord tone), playing legato (sometimes a major third in one foot is not possible to connect), and playing the pedals silently (as opposed to making a too much noise).
Regarding balance, I found in all the previous weeks that I could sit quietly on the bench and avoid having to pull myself back to my normal seated position by shifting my weight from one hip and buttocks to the other. This week, perhaps due to the fact that an octave arpeggio in octaves covers too much space on the pedals in such a short amount of time as well as the fact that two feet moving at the same time reduces the body’s range of motion, playing an arpeggio this week with confidence was not possible. My appearance on the bench was too active as I had to keep adjusting myself when my body would move closer and closer to the console as a result of twisting my body in order to reach pedals. For some of the arpeggios, like B Minor, E Major, and D Minor, not moving on the bench put too much of a strain on my legs and feet that in the end did not enable me to reach the desired pedal in one foot (and occasionally pedals in both feet) with confidence.
My remedy this week has been to shift my weight a little bit, however, a precise note to shift on (unlike scales and all previous arpeggios) or even which direction to shift into (left or right side) has not been possible for me to determine. These problems occur when I am playing very slowly in rhythm. Faster tempos are not possible this week.
Feel free to contact me.
Thank you for your time and thank you very much for designing a wonderful course as well as sharing your knowledge with me and every other organist.
Let’s start episode 610 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Joanna, and she writes:
“Dear Vidas, can finger substitutions be used in slow baroque music, such as Kyrie by Cabezon? Or is it best to stick to articulated fingering even in relatively slow passages?”
This question was sent by Paul, and he writes:
“Thank you for sending your Organ Duet Recital. Bravo!
For the moment my challenge is BWV 564. I am able to play the toccata by heart, Adagio I still need the score and fugue is not yet on an optimal level.
I try to realize what you call articulate legato.
This question was sent by Kaki, and Kaki writes,
"Thanks for the upload! I remember when I was learning the whole suite, always loved Krebs and this Courante was my favorite. There aren't many videos if any at all on this Clavierubung #2 and you uploaded the whole suite! Thanks so much, I enjoyed listening (: A little gem in the sea of youtube videos!"
This question was sent by Laurie, and she writes:
Be sure you are sitting down to read this. 😂 I have no objection to the study of articulate legato touch for early music, but my question is, why MUST we use it? I understand it was the practice in the time of Bach and early music, but wasn't that true because the tracker instruments lent themselves to that sort of touch? And the flat pedalboards could be navigated easier with all toes, rather than using heels. But if we have a modern instrument that does not have "tracker touch" and has a concave radiating pedalboard, why not lend new interpretations to these masterworks? It could give new life and new understandings to old music.
I'm sure you have heard Cameron Carpenter play. I'm not always a fan, but I learn something new about the construction of the music when I listen to his interpretations. For example, here he is playing the Bach B Minor Prelude and Fugue on a modern organ, making full use of colorful registrations and expression pedals. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jixCGS_AAG8
Isn't this improvisation in its own way? What do you say?”
This question was sent by Robert, and he writes,
Thank you so much for the video of you working on Vierne Final, sym 1. Within just the first 3 minutes I learned so much about how to practice properly, the key word here is properly. I, of course, practice (and I'm a slow learner but I get there) usually sections at a time and slowly but watching you slowly and what appears to me slight hesitation at certain points to read ahead. I may be misinterpreting what you're doing but it makes sense and allows for a much smoother transition from section to section until the full work is learned and brought up to speed.
I've listened to more than 3 minutes but not the complete video which I will do now. I can't wait to see what's ahead that I will learn. You are such a good human being and make the world a better place. Thank you.
Warm regards to you both,
This question was sent by Richard, and he writes,
I am a pianist and I’d love to get the pedals working when I sit at the organ. I also struggle with improvisation which can be a real hindrance during church services.
This question was sent by Francois, and he writes:
“Good day Vidas and Ausra,
I hope you are well and you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.
My name is Francois, I live in London and I came across you on the Hauptwerk Facebook group as well as YouTube. Thank you so much for all the wonderful videos and music that you two post, it really is an inspiration. I also saw your article about your Hauptwerk setup at home which was very helpful and I’m now in the process of replicating your setup. I received my keyboard stand over the weekend and today two of my three Nektar Impact GX61 keyboards were delivered. I’m only using the basic Hauptwerk subscription as I haven’t played organ in about 20 years and I need to get back in the saddle, so to speak. The peddle board will have to wait for now as it is a bit pricey.
I would like to get a bit more info and help on your sound setup. I see you have Presonus Eris E4.5 monitors in your list of equipment. Are they good for reproducing a good sound especially in the 16’ and 32’ registers? How do you connect them to your Apple, do you connect them using an audio interface? I’m running on Windows 10 on a Dell laptop and any guidance and advice will be appreciated.
Sorry for all the questions, but I really like your setup and I know that if you are happy with it then I will definitely be happy.
Thanks again for your amazing videos and for sharing your talent with us. Much appreciated.
This question was sent by Klāvs, and he writes,
There are answers to your questions.
1. My dream for playing organ is to play in church services and in concerts. I have played in church services some times.
2. My 3 important things that are holding me back from realizing my dream is:
Equipment - if I want to learn organ playing I need to go to my church, where there is a pipe organ with pedals and 2 manuals.
Quiet place, where I can learn.
Knowledge of playing technique, because I don’t have an organ teacher yet.
This question was sent by Pieter, and he writes,
Thank you for your email with week 11 of the sight reading course attached. I am persevering with the daily routine and I notice first of all a much greater stability and confidence with rhythm. Some of the figures in the exercises are complex from a sight reading perspective but this has definitely improved over the weeks. I think notation accuracy was not a major problem for me but I still have to be careful to observe accidentals etc. It is very easy to miss repeated ones.
I am greatly enjoying the routine of the course and am always a little curious as to what the new challenges will be week on week.
I will of course contact you if there are any queries but for now it is all very clear and the approach you take is very logical.
My very best wishes, Pieter
This question was sent by Wendy, and she writes:
Your organ duet recital was wonderful… so inspiring. You and Ausra are a great team. Many thanks for sharing your huge talents. I am one of 3 organists who play for services at a Catholic church in Ipswich Queensland Australia...St Mary's. My training is as a pianist. I don't have an organ at home and my organ pedal skills are very limited. Enjoy your coffee!!
Best wishes, Wendy”
This question was sent by Tim, and he writes:
Are you able to help me please. I am currently learning the Dubois Toccata in G No 3 and have previously downloaded your fingering and pedaling for the piece. I'm having trouble getting it up to the required speed and wondered if you had any tips to help with this or any other tips or practice ideas that might help.
Thank you in anticipation
This question was sent by Vivien, and she writes:
“Thank you so much for your acknowledgment and interest Vidas. Next time I will understand better how to enter the amount of money and make it more in line with the quantity and quality of expert help coming from you and Ausra.
Lockdown means no Church Services and so has given me a chance to improve my basic skills instead of being stressed with deadlines.
I’m trying to improve my trills and am using a manual piece Jesus, meine Zuversicht, BWV 728. I listen to Wolfgang Stockmeier because I happen to have his CDs, copy him and then record myself. The long trills still sound awkward, but then I found your advice of slow, exact and emphasising every other note which I’ve never read before.
Feeling optimistic that this could be a breakthrough. Can’t believe the way that you understand such detailed problems.
I hope that you both are coping well in this crisis.
This question was sent by Jeremy, and he writes,
"Now that summer is here, I am excited to get into one of the courses on Total Organist again. Maybe the Couperin Mass or improv mini-course. Either actually as I have just signed up for them…"
This question was sent by Dan, and he writes:
“Hi Vidas, I hope you and Ausra are doing well in your part of the world. Things are going well here. I’ve had to stop getting instruction for the time being from the local organist that’s working with me, due to how things are with this world-wide pandemic. I’m still working away here though, on my hauptwerk VPO, and it’s good I’ve got that here to still work on stuff. I’m working on Buxtehude’s prelude, fugue and chaconne in c, BuxWV137, and as well as Carson Cooman’s tuba tune. I think you’ve had Carson on the podcast a couple times. I was going to participate in an organ recital with other organ students from the area I’m in, on the 28th of March, and play the Grand Choeur in B-flat major by Dubois, but that got postponed as well. I notice you’ve gotten into Hauptwerk as well, which is cool. What’s the sample set you’re using? it sounds like a nice one, that I might be interested in getting a hold of. A link to it would be appreciated. Take care, and stay safe.”
This question was sent by Ruth, who is our Total Organist student, and she writes:
“I am learning a lot about new ways of playing organ, etc. from taking this course. This must be one of the finest courses of its kind on the Internet. Please recall though that some of us are still learning like "wee kids" about the new ways you and others have of using electronic methodology and media. Please hold on to your patience and call forth your skills for teaching us. Thanks. Blessings.
This question was sent by María de Jesús Redentor. And Maria writes,
"Good evening, Vidas.
My goal in learning to play the organ is to play during the liturgical celebrations and I would like to focus on that. In addition, I would like to get to know the organ registration, as well as improvisation and improvised accompaniment, and also the possibility of performing pieces, especially in the Baroque and Classicist style.
My obstacles are:
1) I am a beginner organist and I do not have much practice.
2) Because of my personal situation I do not have a lot of time to exercise and I cannot commit myself to systematic and conscientious exercise.
3) What I want to add is that I still have difficulty in performing typical organ pieces with a pedal.
Using the opportunity, I would like to thank you very much for this possibility to learn playing the organ online and for very practical and helpful instructions.
María de Jesús Redentor"
This question was sent by Bill. And he writes,
"I put in 15-30 minutes a day working on the sight reading course. I've been working on BWV 543 Bach Prelude & Fugue in A Minor mostly beyond that. Two things that frustrate me are it takes me about 3 months to learn these big fugues (practicing about 1.5 hours/day) and the playing the strings of 32nd notes evenly at high tempo. Any suggestions to speed up learning and play better at high tempos would be appreciated. I do like the sight reading course, it certainly has me reading better!
This question was sent by Amir, and he writes:
Thanks for your email
What I have now in my schedule is a daily time to practice sight reading. It does not take more than 15 minutes daily. At the same time I am redoing the exercises I have done 10 weeks ago. I find that looking at the same things again after 10 weeks of doing them, gives me more confidence that things are getting better.
Most important benefit is for me to be regular in the sense of the beat pulse, and I think this is not beneficial for sight reading only but for music interpretation in general. It is better to do an intended "rallentando" than to slow down because the passage is just difficult.
In addition these exercises are allowing me to predict to a certain extent my capabilities to keep a steady tempo in a piece of music. Looking at difficult passages and to have a certain estimation about how things can go, can help me to be steady.
Changing to unexpected notes and rhythms is always tricky. Hoping that I am getting better.
This question was sent by Graham. And he writes,
First I would just like to say thank you for your informative videos on playing and teaching the organ. Your passion and insights are much appreciated.
1. I'll mention that I am a complete beginner to playing the organ despite my musical background. I am actually a jazz guitar player who is studying music at university but who has long been passionate about Baroque organ music as well as jazz organ and I decided to start learning recently. Although it isn't serious right now (but I practice a lot) I would love to be able to one day play some of North German music such as Bach or Buxtehude and develop a good pedal technique. For now I only have access to an electric organ (I have a spinet with 13 pedals) but will try to get a Hammond with 25 pedals for practice. So in short I would say my dream would be to become fluent in some North German repertoire (and maybe the opportunity to one day actually play it on a real pipe organ haha).
2. - First limitation is my current instrument. Since I can't really practice a proper two foot pedal technique on my 13 note spinet there doesn't seem to be too much that I can play from the German repertoire. (If you have any recommendations on beginner organ music with easy pedal parts that are real baroque music that would be very helpful!)
- My current technique on the manuals is limited. Since I don't have an organ teacher it's hard to know if I am using the correct fingering techniques on the manuals. I know I should use fingers substitutions but it's hard to know exactly how when reading it from a book. There's way more about piano technique online than organ it seems so it can be hard to find someone demonstrating the exact techniques.
- Last, would be an effective practice plan and a clear place to start. A plan that would help a beginner start to learn how to really play the instrument. Since I'm already a musician who must play and improvise all the time it can be frustrating when switching to a new instrument yet very exciting!!
Thanks again for the great lessons, keep it up!
This question was sent by Hervey, and he writes:
“1. My dream for organ playing:
To be able to play with above average results for an audience.
2. The three most important things holding me back:
a. Not good enough at reading notes.
b. Have to memorize music before it can be played.
c. I consciously play every note instead of letting it flow freely from the mind.”
This question was sent by Amir. He’s taking our Organ Sight-Reading Master Course. And when I asked him how his organ playing is going so far, he writes:
“It was not that bad, my main difficulty are the unexpected changes in rhythms and jumping notes.”
This question was sent by Justina. And she writes,
Hello, my name is Justina Pupeikytė and my dream is to get into the Royal Academy of music and after that become a professional organist. But there are few things that are keeping me down. I have very poor sight reading skills and weak transposition. I also learn musical pieces slowly. I am not talking about slow tempo while playing that concerns me, but the time that it takes for me to learn the piece and it's long. Can you help me?
This question was sent by Ruth. And she writes,
I am in the process of memorizing a piece, based upon what I am learning in this course! I am also trying to keep in touch with members of my church, because we did not meet last week.
This question was sent by Maureen. And she’s our Total Organist student. And she writes,
The concern with the coronavirus is ratcheting up as you will know. Scotland is beginning to grow concerned and lockdown is being implemented for next week. I thought it would be a great opportunity to play as often as possible during the time when this happens here in Scotland.
I would like to study the Bach Prelude and Fugue in D Major, BWV 532 and BWV 552 (this is Prelude and Fugue in Eb Major). Is this fingered for purchase by any chance? I would love to purchase it if it is. Thank you,
This question was sent by Amir, and he writes:
“I think you surely heard this question before. What is the rule regarding accidentals if a note with an accidental is to be held for more two bars and after that it is repeated in the second bar, should the note change as an accidental be repeated in the second bar (in case that there is no sign of an accidental) or it is to be omitted?
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This question was sent by John, and he writes:
“I'm wondering if you could help with selecting the next piece I should learn, and give a ranking to the difficulty of these pieces. As you know I'm at a beginner/intermediate level, there's no way I can tackle a large Bach fugue. I know I should learn some French repertoire, but that is also a challenge with finger technique and playing fast passages.
Let me know what you think.
- BWV 547 Prelude in C major (Prelude only)
- BWV 546 Prelude in C minor (Prelude only)
- BWV 578 The Little Fugue in G minor
- Fanfare by Lemmens
- Noel X by Daquin
Feel free to suggest any other pieces I should have in my next wish list!
I am also hoping to spend some time preparing a basic composition or improvisation for Easter, perhaps on the Hymn tune ‘Christ the Lord is risen today’.”
Vidas: Hello and welcome to Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast!
Ausra: This is a show dedicated to helping you become a better organist.
V: We’re your hosts Vidas Pinkevicius...
A: ...and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene.
V: We have over 25 years of experience of playing the organ
A: ...and we’ve been teaching thousands of organists online from 89 countries since 2011.
V: So now let’s jump in and get started with the podcast for today.
A: We hope you’ll enjoy it!
V: Let’s start episode 585 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by James. And he writes,
James here from Rustington, England. Hope you are keeping well.
Just getting ready for the first ever UK National Organ Day on April 18, when we'll be opening our church for the morning and hoping to welcome visitors- not least young ones- to explore the 'Hidden Mysteries of the Pipe Organ' with demonstrations, powerpoint presentations, to have a go themselves and play nursery rhyme tunes in a group on hand-held pipes if the coronavirus scare has passed. England desperately needs young organists!
Someone is bound to ask me to play the BWV565 Toccata, so I must learn to play it properly. But my fingers refuse to obey in bars 12-15 however much I practice: they always want to play together rather than alternately. Can you give me some simple advice to train them?
Best wishes and happy memories, James
This question was sent by Amir, and he is taking our Secrets of Organ Playing course called “Sight-Reading Master Course,” and he writes:
Amir: “Thanks very much Vidas. This should also be interesting as a pedal exercise technique
And I wrote to him:
Vidas: “You are right, Amir! Almost everything that can be played by the hand, can be played by the feet too. In fact, the feet often can be regarded as the third hand in organ playing.”
Today's guest is Crista MILLER who is the Director of Music and Cathedral Organist at Houston’s Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart where she chaired the Organ Committee for Martin Pasi’s Opus 19 pipe organ. She oversees the Celebrity Organ Series and the First Friday University of Houston Series and leads a growing Cathedral music organization, with the Schola Cantorum in high demand for large-scale, festive liturgies, including those prepared for the National Catholic Education Association, the National Winter Conference of the University of St. Thomas’ St. Basil’s School of Gregorian Chant, Church Music Association of America, various Archdiocesan offices, and for Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza’s ceremonial receipt of the Pallium from Pope Benedict XVI in Rome in 2005.
She was already a guest on the podcast 3 years ago when we talked about the new organ for the organ. Recently she left a thoughtful comment about our past podcast conversation so I asked how she is doing under the quarantine. Our chat seemed to me like a perfect topic for the podcast conversation so I invited her to be a guest again and she graciously agreed.
So in this conversation we talk about organist's life during the quarantine - challenges and opportunities.
Enjoy and let us know how you approach those challenges and opportunities yourself in the comments bellow.
This question was sent by Pieter. And he writes,
Dear Vidas and Ausra,
A friend has sent me a link to your website and I think that it is something that is very interesting for me. Before I look into it further I would be grateful for your guidance as to how I might proceed. I will tell you a little about my situation.
I am an organ student living in the Netherlands although I have had a fantastic organ teacher in London where I lived for many years. I have an organ at home and practise every day. I do not have regular organ lessons at the moment as I am still very loyal to my teacher in London and prefer to go to her when I am there.
Although I played the organ many years ago I did stop but about 3 years ago I restarted lessons. I am highly motivated and I am in the fortunate position that I have a lot of time to practise as I am now retired (I am 63).
I have recently taken the Colleague diploma of the Royal College of Organists and I achieved success in the Pieces as well as the Harmony, Counterpoint, Theory and Aural sections. I was not successful with the tests at the organ although I did get a pass mark for transposition of a hymn tune. I think sight reading is my weakest area. As this diploma is modular I can repeat just the section that I didn't pass and if I am successful the next time then I will get the full award.
Of course I do understand that playing the organ is so much more than passing exams and I guess my goal is to be a better musician. I suppose I am looking for guidance as to how to approach these challenges and whether your material might help me in that respect. I am sure nothing can substitute for regular lessons and somehow I need to sort that out but your thoughts on that would be much appreciated.
Many thanks in advance for taking the time to read this email.
Kind regards, Pieter
This question was sent by Maureen, and she asks:
Please could you suggest suitable music for this particular week in the Catholic Church?
I love the harmonies for ‘O Sacred head sore wounded’. Is there an organ rendition for this one? Your suggestions would be appreciated as always.
This question was sent by Steven, and he writes:
Not long ago Vidas it was my job to serve at the organ to lead a congregation of mostly untrained singers in a meeting outside a worship service with the singing of a closing song with which most of them were unfamiliar.
The tune was St. Clement, a traditional hymn not especially easy for a trained voice to sing that's better known to members of the Anglican faith and perhaps a Methodist or two in the audience but completely unfamiliar to everyone else.
This number does not appear in any of the newer hymnals -- I have only found it included in a couple of very old editions of hymn books which have been out of print for a very long time.
People singing this tune on YouTube videos are doing so at a tempo Moderato about half the time and the other half of the time they sing at something close to an Adagio."
This question was sent by Amir. And he writes,
"Hi Vidas, definitely counting while reading new music is helping me to keep on a stable rhythm. I still found rapid shifts in note values and spacing of melodies in my left hand a bit challenging. Thanks."
This question was sent by Julie. And she writes,
"I tend to focus too much on what I am playing on Sunday and don’t make as much progress on the “bigger” pieces that take much longer than a week to learn. Sometimes there isn’t much I can do about that if things are particularly busy at work."
This question was sent by Jeremy, who is transcribing our scores and adding fingering and pedaling, and is our member of the Total Organist Community. He writes:
“I like that Total Organist is keeping me focused on my practicing, and how to practice.”
We just recorded the previous episode with the question sent by Rebecca about the articulation of “D Minor Toccata and Fugue” by Bach , and Rebecca’s question sort of continues in this episode. Okay, so she writes she has problems with:
“Sticking with a schedule of practicing. Time management.”
“Pieces to play for an organ recital? Suggestions as to what would make a good program? I feel somewhat limited in what I can play.
(I played piano during my early years, and I am semi retired at this point. However, I LOVE to play and I want to challenge myself to do a recital. I am thinking of the Bach piece, which has not been done in our recital programs in the last year and the ‘Westminster Carillon.’
Thank you for any input.”
Ms. Keller's extensive church music experience includes work in with volunteer and professional choirs and instrumental ensembles devoted to the highest level of music for worship. She is devoted to the development of amateur and volunteer choristers and musicians of every age level. Ms. Keller has created organ and choral scholar programs at small to mid size parishes, developed successful children's choir programs, and led choirs on tour including a residency at Bristol Cathedral in the UK in the summer of 2011 with concerts at Bath Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral.
In April of 2011 Ms. Keller won first prize in the North American round of the Michael Tariverdiev International Organ Competition, earning a place in the second round in Kaliningrad, Russia in September. In Kaliningrad she was awarded the Special Shabyt Prize from the Kazakh National University of Arts in Astana, Kazakhstan for “the most promising organist for inspiration and luck” which included a recital in Astana and a CD recording.
In August of 2010 Ms. Keller was an instructor in the Internationale Orgelakademie at St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Passau, Germany. The course focused on American and English organ music and included students from several countries in Europe. In conjunction with the course, she played a recital at St. Stephan’s Cathedral and at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Waldkirchen with Dr. Horst Buchholz, Director of Music at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
Ms. Keller received the Performer’s Certificate and the Master of Music Degree in Organ Performance and Literature at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York under the tutelage of David Higgs. While at Eastman, she studied continuo with Arthur Haas and improvisation with Dr. Gerre Hancock. She received the Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance from the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music in Berea, Ohio, studying piano with George Cherry and Jean Stell and organ with Margaret Scharf.
In this conversation Nicole shares her insights about the importance of listening to a lot of other music besides organ.
This question was sent by Ruth. And she wrote an answer in return of my question in Total Organist community: How do you like Total Organist so far? And she wrote,
"In Total Organist I am learning a lot, from reading of the experiences of organists around the world. I appreciate the opportunity to ask questions of them and also to listen to recordings of some of them."
This question was sent by Rebecca. And she writes:
Thank you for your email. When I ordered the "Toccata and Fugue in d minor", by J.S.Bach, it would be nice to have a tutorial with you talking about certain sections of the piece. I studied with Roberta Gary at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and she introduced playing with a more 'detached' style or more suitable early organ music style of playing. With the Bach piece I am now working on, I don't know exactly how to play the opening section. I played the piece a long time ago, but it was before I studied with Dr. Gary. When listening to others play the piece, I wonder if I am making too much distinction between the notes by trying to accent the correct beats. Could you do a short tutorial on the piece to help me understand the correct articulation?
V: So that was her first problem. And the second one is sticking with a schedule of practicing and time management. And the third one was pieces to play for an organ recital.
Suggestions as to what would make a good program. I think somewhat limited in what I can play. I played piano during my early years, and I am semi retired at this point. However, I LOVE to play and I want to challenge myself to do a recital. I am thinking of the Bach piece, which has not been done in our recital programs in the last year and the "Westminster Carillon". Thank you for any input. Also, I didn't quite understand if I joined for 1 month of your study, would I have to continue if perhaps it didn't work out for me?
This question was sent by Laurie, who transcribes our podcasts into text. And she is also a member of Total Organist community. She writes,
Hi Vidas, I have set a goal for myself to give a solo concert at my church in May. So I have started to practice some new, challenging repertoire, including the Bach Gigue Fugue (I downloaded your fingering and pedaling!) and Mulet's "Thou art the Rock." (or Tu es Petrus)
Sometimes, it doesn't seem like I'm making much progress practicing, and it takes so much longer to learn something in my 50s than it did in my 20s or even 30s. But....
My sight reading (and general playing) of our choir anthems is easier and better. And even my typing for your podcasts is going faster and smoother for me, since I started to practice slowly and carefully. So, yes --- when you practice, miracles happen.
Thanks for all you do for organists around the world, even those of us who don’t often post in Basecamp or enter contests. Love to Ausra, as well. You are lucky to have her. More than once, I have wanted to object to something you say in your podcast, and then she says exactly what I was thinking. Perhaps I need to get her some coffee or decaf. Blessings to you both.
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?
This question was sent by Dave, and he writes:
I did your year-long subscription some years ago… and after that found a local organ teacher.
I just wanted to let you know that after 40 yrs, I successfully accomplished (another) audition for
going back to college to get a Bachelor's degree in Church Music with an Organ Performance certificate.
I just started this new semester at a college here in North Carolina; where I have an opportunity
to practice on a wonderful Fisk instrument (currently enrolled in Music History, Harpsichord and Organ.)
Your course was very helpful in getting back to my “roots” and kick-starting this entire adventure.
So, while I’m not currently enrolled, I do get your weekly messages (and even read them) and
I do look at the weekly competitions.
Just wanted to say “thank you” for your “nudge” back into the world of organ playing.
This question was sent by John. And he writes:
Dear Vidas and Ausra,
How are you today?
I'm sorry to hear about your troubles with the music distributors and the very unfair treatment you are receiving. I can't believe they are doing this to you. And it seems James Flores is also being harassed over copyright issues when his music is in the public domain.
Thanks for your advice on the role of music director, and I look forward to your next podcast!
I am working hard on Prelude in the Classic Style by Gordon Young, and I am finding I am learning it much faster than I expected! I remember one of your students from the Unda Maris studio played this piece and it sounded magnificent on the St John's organ! So now when I'm practicing I try to imagine I am there playing it at St John's!
This question was sent by Jason. And he writes:
Thank you for your email.
My dreams are to be truly expressive in whatever I play. I want to do my own arrangements and improvisations to pieces.
Important to me is to take songs which are outside of the Church or Classic repertoire.
With these songs I would create interesting organ pieces with real musical depth,
I’m talking about arranging music like Jimi Hendrix—Voodoo Child, David Bowie—life on Mars there are so many.
Sticking with more standard pieces then new stuff like Hans Zimmer—Interstellar pieces would be great. But above all the knowledge and ability to arrange and play modern pieces.
What is holding me back is my brain over complicating music theory.
This question was sent by Daniel, and he writes:
“Hello Vidas and Ausra!
I have a question about fingering and practising in a very slow tempo. If I do the fingering early I often have to choose another solution when I know the difficult parts better and can play them in a ”final” tempo. So the question is: When is the optimal moment to decide the fingering? Thanks for all good inspiration!”
This question was sent by Allen. And he writes,
Hi Vidas and Ausra, It is great to read other people's problems and challenges and I would love to hear your responses to mine. I took up the organ seriously in 2015 after retiring and I am now 71. I practise every day for at least two hours and my latest piece (which I have just mastered) is the Bach Toccata BWV 538 (Dorian). Unfortunately, I do have the occasional BAD day when everything goes wrong, even bars that never went wrong before. I soldier on but it often gets worse. Do you ever experience this? If so, what do you do? Hoping to hear from you,
This question was sent by Arthur, and he writes:
I resigned up for Total Organist in August and was just trying to download some music that you have composed tonight and for some reason I can’t download it without paying extra for the music. Is this the case for Total Organist members? Are the compositions of yours and music which has had fingering applied to it something that we have to pay extra for?
Looking forward to hearing from you.
And I wrote to him:
“Thanks Arthur! Up until now my compositions were not available for Total Organist community.
If you think they might be interesting to people, I can add them to the list.
Please let me know.”
And Arthur continued:
I didn't realize that they weren't part of the Total Organist "package" as it were. I listen to and watch your youtube improvisations as a way of studying what you do with harmony and have gained very much from doing this. I recently heard a recording of one of your works that was put on Contrebombarde.com - which is a site where organists from all over the world post music which they have recorded on a Hauptwerk virtual organ. This particular piece of yours was posted there by Carson Cooman. I really enjoyed