Search:
Submit Search


What keeps you motivated?

Playing or learning the organ, hints, tips and tricks, registrations, techniques, fingerings, ...

What keeps you motivated?

Postby cdekter » Mon Oct 07, 2013 5:19 am

I'd really like to hear people's thoughts on what keeps them motivated to learn new music, keep playing and generally keep on keeping on. Here is my own experience:

I don't currently (nor will I in the foreseeable future) play for any church, so there is no pressure on me to learn anything for that purpose. My playing is most definitely not at the level necessary for public performance, so giving concerts (even as a participant along with others) is out of the question. Since I first got into Hauptwerk about 3 1/2 years ago, I've gone through shorter periods of intense effort, separated by longer periods of largely no playing at all. At one point during one of these quiet periods I seriously considered selling my Hauptwerk system.

During my periods of intense effort I might learn 2-3 pieces to a reasonable degree (but certainly never note-perfect). I always seem to hit a wall where no more improvement seems possible and eventually I yield and let the piece go, calling it 'done', for a given value of done. In terms of technical ability, the pinnacle of my achievements (tongue firmly in cheek here) would probably be Bach's Toccata in F BWV 540 and the first movement of Mendelssohn's sonata no. 4.

Over these past few years I have often felt like I may have reached the limit of what I can, in fact, achieve. Scientific research in recent years has shown that people's ability to sight-read music is largely limited by their working memory capacity, something which most scholars currently believe to be unchangeable. So once you reach a certain point, no more improvement is possible. I also have come to the conclusion that there may be certain mechanical limitations in the anatomy of my hands that prevent technical ability progressing beyond a certain point (this one is probably more dubious).

This all leads me to question why I play. I find the process of learning new music an often frustrating experience, something more akin to work than something enjoyable. It is a necessary evil that must be endured before the piece can be adequately performed. And I'm talking here about pieces I've selected to learn because I love them very much. I sometimes feel torn about learning to play a piece I particularly love because once that's done, one's feeling towards that music is forever altered.

All in all, to me music can be quite an emotional roller-coaster ride. No other thing can bring the same unalloyed joy as music, and yet at times it can be such a cruel mistress!
cdekter
Member
 
Posts: 100
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:04 am
Location: CA, United States

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby icrutt » Mon Oct 07, 2013 6:18 am

So much of that sounds familiar! I'm sure many people have struggled with the same feelings - I certainly did for a long time. There's much I could say in response, but I'll try and keep it reasonably brief. These are just personal comments, of course - others may disagree!

In the end, I think the point of learning music is to perform it for other people. I really think that's the bottom line. I've found that without that motivation, it becomes hard to sustain the effort to polish a piece. Of course, finding appropriate performance opportunities on the organ isn't easy. If you have a good teacher, they should be able to help, or try making friends with a local organist, and offering to play the occasional voluntary, or short piece before the service. Every occasion where you get put on the spot and have to play something for an 'audience' is helpful - so long as you're prepared and focused, and so long as the 'audience' is supportive.

In connection with that - be patient. Even when you've nearly learned all the notes, there's a lot of work needed to polish a confident and fluent performance of a major work - but when you do, it's a joyful experience to play for others. Taking the opportunity to play for others in informal settings while learning a piece is very useful - e.g. for a teacher, or for another organist friend. Approach it like a performance and do your best. Then evaluate, adjust and do some more practice.

Very important - learn to practice efficiently. You can do a lot of good in a short time if you focus on problem corners and work at them. Practice in short bursts - notice when you get tired and take a break. Do hands and feet separately, repeat short sections and take everything as slowly as necessary to get the right notes, right fingerings and right articulation. It may feel plodding, but it will help. A friend recently told me to 'practice with no expectation of improvement' - sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. Sometimes, it just takes time for the subconscious to process and assimilate a piece.

Take time to work on the fundamentals - posture, relaxed muscles, hand position, neat, easeful movement, articulation, mental focus.

Learn a mix of music - work on the big stuff (and be prepared for how long it will take), but also tackle music well within your capabilities - pieces you can learn and perform in a few weeks - this will boost your confidence and motivation. There are lots of medium-difficulty anthologies around. Also - learn some manuals-only repertoire (e.g. Sweelinck, Byrd, English 18th C music, or 19th C harmonium repertoire) - great for articulation.

Sorry - this has turned into advice on practising. I guess my experience is that if one learns to practice well, and has appropriate, manageable performance opportunities, motivation isn't a problem. A couple of years ago, I felt very much like you do, but these days, I practice almost every day - even if only for 15 minutes.

Last thing - I found this book very useful indeed:

http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780 ... lKIGKzfF-g

Have fun, and don't get discouraged! I honestly don't think you've reached the limit of what you can achieve.

Ian
icrutt
Member
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2010 8:16 am
Location: Swansea, UK

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby profeluisegarcia » Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:13 am

Hello Cdekter:
Why not turning into improvising YOUR own music for yourself. So we always will be into the limitis of our mental, physical and training abilities.

You´ll find how to do it in Vidas free lessons:
http://www.organduo.lt
Regards,
Luis
Colombia
profeluisegarcia
Member
 
Posts: 403
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:00 pm
Location: Manizales, Colombia

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby b.natural » Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:40 am

When one loves something, it's hard to let it go. I've struggled with the beastly organ for 40 years, but I continue to approach the organ with a sense of joy and anticipation each time I sit to play.

Having persisted with much practice, study, church playing, some concertizing, and completing several diplomas and degrees, I am at a stage where I experience that elusive 'flow' at many points during my practice sessions. That is sheer bliss.

I'm trying to say that all the struggle has been worth it. I hope you persist in your musical pursuits.

:)
Last edited by b.natural on Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
b.natural
Member
 
Posts: 172
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby sesquialtera » Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:35 am

Hello
I've gone through shorter periods of intense effort, separated by longer periods of largely no playing at all.
It's the same for me here, but not playing doesn't mean doing nothing. I need time to stomach, to assimilate music... I think it's normal : learning something isn't a straight line.
During my periods of intense effort I might learn 2-3 pieces to a reasonable degree

Did you try to learn more easier pieces ? Thanks to contrebombarde.com, i've discoverd a lot of friendly and pleasant pieces, playable in 2-3 days, not discouraging at all !
icrutt says
In the end, I think the point of learning music is to perform it for other people.

Ok, but my problem is : a play far better when I'm alone. As soon as there is a listener in my music room,
I make a lot of mistakes. That point is very disapointing for me.
And I'm talking here about pieces I've selected to learn because I love them very much. I sometimes feel torn about learning to play a piece I particularly love because once that's done, one's feeling towards that music is forever altered.

It's true as soon as you open the score to see how the music is made ... then you lose your candid ears.
It's the same for movies : Once you've understand how special effects are made, the magic isn't working anymore.
sesquialtera
Member
 
Posts: 194
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:25 pm
Location: france

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby icrutt » Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:43 am

Hello sesquialtera

Ok, but my problem is : a play far better when I'm alone. As soon as there is a listener in my music room,
I make a lot of mistakes. That point is very disapointing for me.


I know what you mean! I've suffered from this for years. I think it was the feeling that all the world's great organists were looking over my shoulder and listening for mistakes... About 10 years ago, I played the famous Widor Toccata for the wedding of a couple of friends - I was sweating and shaking, and because of my nervousness even improvised an extra bar in the coda...

However, it can be overcome (and I'm much better at it now). For me, there have been several things which have helped:

  • Finding friendly, low-key performance opportunities
  • Making myself play in front of (friendly) people whose musical abilities I respect (or even hold in awe)
  • Practicing my mental skills (focussing, etc)
The book I mentioned has several chapters on performance anxiety and mental focus. Lots of people suffer from these problems, but many of them have overcome them and make music for others to enjoy :)
icrutt
Member
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2010 8:16 am
Location: Swansea, UK

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby telemanr » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:39 pm

The first time I played for a service my legs literally jerked up and down alarmingly as I stumbled along. Sheer nerves. This disappeared just because of repeated occasions. You can't stay that nervous forever. Do just keep playing in front of people. It helps. It may take a while but don't let the odd mistake take over. Everyone makes mistakes. It's no deal breaker.
Rob Enns
User avatar
telemanr
Member
 
Posts: 1216
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 5:18 pm
Location: Brampton, ON, Canada

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby profeluisegarcia » Mon Oct 07, 2013 6:24 pm

cdekter wrote: I find the process of learning new music an often frustrating experience,


Please let me share another two cents:

Being a self taught organist, I have been very ambitious and when I had access to a teacher I asked him to teach me Big Bach´s Works. Sometimes it was " an often frustrating experience".

But one year ago I discovered dutch composers (Asma, Sandermann, Zwart) and I felt in love with their music, relatively easy to learn and play...without stress, frustration but deep enjoyment.

My point is: to put the eyes and get in love with the notes (and girls) we can reach...

(Listen, for instance: http://www.contrebombarde.com/concerthall/music/11119
http://www.con-passione.nl/images/stories/pdf/gdh.pdf)
profeluisegarcia
Member
 
Posts: 403
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:00 pm
Location: Manizales, Colombia

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby cdekter » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:29 am

Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply to my post - I am humbled.

I agree wholeheartedly that learning somewhat easier music can often be a good thing. Like others have mentioned, contrebombarde.com has been a great resource for discovering more obscure but still lovely pieces. As organists we can often focus on the greats, the pinnacle of which must surely be Bach. Bach in all his brilliance can certainly seem unattainable at times.

I should have given a bit more background: I have been playing the organ (and for a while the piano too) since I was six years old - I'm 29 now. There have occasionally been breaks of a few years here and there, but I've largely kept it up. For about 4 years I was also the regular organist at church, playing about 2 times a month on average. Unfortunately I never really had anyone to teach me the finer aspects of accompanying, and eventually I had to let it go because it became a frustrating, draining experience. I struggled to control the tempo of the singing, for example. Anyway, the point is that nerves can be a strange thing - I'm hardly inexperienced at playing in front of people, yet at times just like some of the other folks in this thread I can get crazy nervous and go all to pieces!

I have found recording a piece in Hauptwerk is often a good test of how well I really know it, as it adds an extra bit of pressure/nerves not unlike a real performance.

Ah, another rambling, poorly structured post - I do apologise! Thanks again everyone for sharing.
cdekter
Member
 
Posts: 100
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:04 am
Location: CA, United States

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby Sander » Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:23 am

What also helps is a teacher, so you learn new things about music and about how to play it. This can overcome the limitations of your current technique, and I would highly recommend it. I learned so much more these last years. If you can't find a teacher in your area, you may also be able to take lessons online by forum member Addy or follow one of Vidas courses.
Sander
Member
 
Posts: 415
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:08 pm
Location: Nijmegen, NL

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby 1961TC4ME » Sat Oct 26, 2013 12:26 am

I've followed this thread and so much of it rings so true for me as well, so if any of you feel you're alone, I would say think again as there are probably many of us feeling the same. I will admit up front that I am probably one of the worst (read that as crappy) performers / players here on the forum having very little formal training in music and zero in organ, but luckily what little I had to get me started was by a very good organist here locally who was once a teacher at one of our local universities that took me under his wing and showed me the basics. Other than that I too am pretty much self taught and before his guidance didn't know a crescendo from a pontifical trumpet, or a hole in the ground. I too have found I seem to get bored or discouraged after awhile and ask myself why I'm even doing this? I've learned a piece here and there and play it over and over, nothing new seems to happen and I reach a certain plateau, then I start to think that maybe this organ stuff isn't for me and maybe I should just throw the whole works on Craigslist or here on the "For Sale" segment of the forum and offer it all up for grabs and walk away from it entirely and chalk it up as another experience in life.

What keeps me going are a couple of things. First, after contemplating all the ideas about selling it all and getting out, is my continued excitement (no matter what and going back to as early as I can remember) of every time I hear that awesome organ on a CD or the radio. I end up saying to myself, "after all the years of wanting something like this so badly, putting all the time into building this awesome sounding organ, and finally getting what I wanted to just let it all go, you must be crazy!" It also helps when you're friends who have no clue, laugh, and give you grief about being some kind of pipe organ nut with a seemingly crazy contraption down in your office, end up coming over, hearing it, and admittedly oogle over you're cool sounding organ! 8) How many of your friends have that? There's none of my friends that can boast having a cathedral organ in their office! The second thing is, even though I continue to struggle with finding new music to play, I find this issue to be more a matter of me being lazy and just not taking the time and being disciplined to find some music I like and is easy enough for me to learn (there's plenty of it out there). One of the greatest things I've found about HW is trying out a new organ / sample set that I can get excited about and playing / practicing some new music on, this really helps me as I find I can get into a rut and bored with the same instrument after awhile. Changing to a new sample set I enjoy can really make a difference in my attitude and I continue to be excited at the chance to play every time I sit down at the console. Sorry, but my set-up is NOT for sale! :D

Marc
1961TC4ME
Member
 
Posts: 1839
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:45 pm
Location: Mound, Minnesota

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby ernst » Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:29 pm

I followed this thread with much interest and recognized a lot. Just two comments after your excellent contributions.

Listening to my own recordings - apart from the useful analysis of my shortcomings - does not please met at all since in no way does it give me the pleasure, joy and involvement that actual playing does.

I also have my times of inactivity - not playing sometimes for extended periods. Being lazy, or being disappointed about myself. But NEVER will I consider selling my organ - well, maybe only to get a better or more beautiful one. Even at those lazy times I don´t play, the very fact of looking at the console and knowing I own such a powerful and potentially very beautiful contraption after having dreamed about it a lifetime, that powerful PC inside, those beautiful original church-keyboards, just that already enjoys me. I might not be using it now but I could any moment I press that button. And think hard about which of those many organs to play now. My favorite or still another sample set? I´m absolutely sure I will NEVER again be without such an organ. Maybe just only for looking and doubting whether I will press that button or not yet.

Ernst
User avatar
ernst
Member
 
Posts: 396
Joined: Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:27 am
Location: Lima, Peru

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby 1961TC4ME » Sat Oct 26, 2013 10:50 pm

Hello Ernst,

Good to hear from you and I hope all is well there with you :) . Yes, just having that wonderful contraption that you can push the button on any time and play for yourself or show a few friends what you have has been a big motivator for me just by itself. Again, how many people do we know that can boast having an organ in their own personal space that can knock the socks off of anyone who listens be they organ enthusiasts or not?

A few other things I would add here to keep the interest going and the frustration at a minimum: When it comes to new music and learning it, pick out a song (or songs) that get in your head that you like and you can hear in your head, perhaps a familiar tune or hymn, but at the same time be realistic with yourself that it's of a level of difficulty that you can actually learn it. Take your time, don't rush, sit down and work out the fingering and the pedaling first, number the fingering above the notes and mark which foot is which on the pedals notes, heel or toe, right foot or left foot and so on. If there's one thing my tutor beat into my head it was work out the fingering and pedaling first, then follow it and do the same every time or you will go nowhere and will continue to fumble around! This is one area you can't be lazy about. When it comes to learning new songs, I can pretty much pick them out just by listening to them and can judge if I can learn them or not. Choosing songs to learn that you know up front you are being unrealistic about only brings more dissapointment and thus the walking away and not wanting to play at all. I always use the reasoning that with time and practice on the more simple songs that the more difficult ones will come easier later when I've progressed with the easier ones first, you can't progress if you don't work out the easier ones first. We have to walk before we can run. So take things one day at a time, be disciplined and learn the easier ones first, as you get better at reading the notes and so on the more difficult ones will then come easier later. I often find I get as much satisfaction from learning and playing a simple tune properly as I do from banging my head against the wall for a month learning something more complicated. Much of the satisfaction and motivation to continue to play for me comes from just being able play a song properly in the first place, and gives me confidence to tackle that more difficult piece later.

Marc
1961TC4ME
Member
 
Posts: 1839
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:45 pm
Location: Mound, Minnesota

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby ernst » Sun Oct 27, 2013 12:04 am

Hello Marc,

Thanks for sharing. From your frequent contributions I feel you´re doing well! I´m fine, a longer lasting hand problem (inflamed nerve) is being resolved now and I´m just today picking up playing again.
.
I do for the more serious pieces as you describe, but I must admit that for the more simple pieces a just play along without proper analysis of fingering - if I play them sufficiently frequent that sort of sticks in memory - about. I´ve always done it this inadequate way, also with my piano playing, and I plead guilty. I also study with starting to play all bars at the same time unless I really can´t. I know it is wrong but in a way it keeps me playing (not so good) because the initial results come quick. But a few pieces I do study the way it should...
The fact that there are no teachers here in Peru also plays a role I guess. No discipline enforced. :D

Ernst
User avatar
ernst
Member
 
Posts: 396
Joined: Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:27 am
Location: Lima, Peru

Re: What keeps you motivated?

Postby arwenhur » Mon Oct 28, 2013 4:35 am

Hello cdekter,
After about 25 years of not playing at all, I restarted playing organ after I got my Hauptwerk setup in mid 2011. At my ripe old age, I started with practising pieces I had learnt long ago ( many I had learnt on my own anyway as music was not my primary study) and then tried to learn some new pieces. I realised after a few months that I needed help to get further with the new pieces. With the help of another Hauptwerk member I found a teacher in Melbourne, and I have progressed further. I got into playing organ even more, it seems to have a momentum of its own. Recently I have played Franck's Chorale 1 for a masterclass by Sophie Veronique Caucher-choplin at Scots Church in Melbourne. I have also played in some public venues, and hope to go to Haarlem Organ Academy next year as (probably the oldest) an active participant.
As some other members have said, if you feel you are losing direction with your playing, some organ lessons can do wonders. I can even introduce you to some teachers if you wish. Also occasionally playing on the real thing (not knocking virtual organs, as I love my Hauptwerk setup and the organs I can play on) really helps to keep the interest going.
I had not replied earlier as I have been too busy to go to the forum to have a look. But you have inspired me, seeing you are in Melbourne. What if I organise a concert at my house and see if I can get some fellow organ lovers and Hauptwerk people to play. Obviously it would be a gathering of amateur organists so would be a sympathetic audience. Have a think about it!
Arwen
User avatar
arwenhur
Member
 
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:00 am

Next

Return to Performance practice

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests