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Talking Whilst Playing


Nick Bennett
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In another thread, Barry Williams mentioned that he can't talk and play at the same time.

 

Can you?

 

Do you know people who can hold a conversation whilst playing?

 

Are any well-known organists noted for being chatterers or for being mute?

 

Sometimes, sometimes not. Can yabber away quite happily during some things but as soon as I have to move my feet my mouth stops. It's quite odd, because I keep talking, but none of it makes any sense, and then I just snatch odd words, usually on bar lines. Just one more thing to think about...

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In another thread, Barry Williams mentioned that he can't talk and play at the same time.

 

Can you?

 

Do you know people who can hold a conversation whilst playing?

 

Are any well-known organists noted for being chatterers or for being mute?

 

Without being sexist, it would be interestimg to know if female organists find it easier to talk while playing - I suspect they may.

 

Being male, I find it difficult enough to talk, let alone while playing!

 

JJK

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Sometimes, sometimes not. Can yabber away quite happily during some things but as soon as I have to move my feet my mouth stops. It's quite odd, because I keep talking, but none of it makes any sense, and then I just snatch odd words, usually on bar lines. Just one more thing to think about...

 

Yes, this is exactly my experience too, it's like having a mini-stroke.. very peculiar..

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I can't talk and pedal but I can cope with manuals and chat - 'trouble is people come up and try to engage in conversation during pre and post music - it's difficult not to be rude. The worst is when I have (out of childcare necessity) one of the daughters with me (mine that is - not a sect of nuns) - they (at 6 & 8) are totally unpredictable in what they might do including demanding admiration of the current work of art, spotting a friend down below amongst the cubs and all but joining them or wanting to experiment with different stop combinations mid piece or hymn!

 

AJJ

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Guest Andrew Butler
I can't talk and pedal but I can cope with manuals and chat - 'trouble is people come up and try to engage in conversation during pre and post music - it's difficult not to be rude. The worst is when I have (out of childcare necessity) one of the daughters with me (mine that is - not a sect of nuns) - they (at 6 & 8) are totally unpredictable in what they might do including demanding admiration of the current work of art, spotting a friend down below amongst the cubs and all but joining them or wanting to experiment with different stop combinations mid piece or hymn!

 

AJJ

 

When organist here http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=D04904

in the 1980's, the 2 children of some friends at the church used to come into the loft (with my permission) to watch me play the postlude. They were then allowed to push in the stops and switch off.

 

Came the fateful day when I played the GTB Elegy. Haven't got my (autographed!) copy to hand to quote bar numbers, but you know the climax, followed by the quiet ending? They thought the climax was it. And it was in that performance: stops in, blower off in a flash! :o

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I have to confess that, when words do escape my lips when playing, they are often unprintable.

 

I am pleased to note that I am not the only person who emits the occasional expletive whilst playing. Last Sunday during the Mass was a case in point. Fortunately, only my boss and a few of the choirmen heard what I said. Shortly afterwards, two choirmen who were sitting slightly further along the stalls, for some reason began discussing Mallards and orange sauce....

 

When organist here http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=D04904

in the 1980's, the 2 children of some friends at the church used to come into the loft (with my permission) to watch me play the postlude. They were then allowed to push in the stops and switch off.

 

Came the fateful day when I played the GTB Elegy. Haven't got my (autographed!) copy to hand to quote bar numbers, but you know the climax, followed by the quiet ending? They thought the climax was it. And it was in that performance: stops in, blower off in a flash! :o

 

 

.... which is a good argument for compulsory euthanasia - or, at the least, the banning of all children from organ lofts.

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Guest Lee Blick
When organist here http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=D04904

in the 1980's, the 2 children of some friends at the church used to come into the loft (with my permission) to watch me play the postlude. They were then allowed to push in the stops and switch off.

 

Came the fateful day when I played the GTB Elegy. Haven't got my (autographed!) copy to hand to quote bar numbers, but you know the climax, followed by the quiet ending? They thought the climax was it. And it was in that performance: stops in, blower off in a flash! :o

 

:o

 

People trying start a convseration with me whilst I'm playing is one of my pet peeves. In my last parish the console was next to the vestry door AND next to the desk where the churchwardens would count up the collection so you can imagine the noise I would have to put up with pre/postludes. What I tend to do if people try to talke to me is keep looking at the music and nod perfusely as if in deep concentration.

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I occasionally do recitals at my church. Unbeknown to me an urn was gently coming to the boil during one of of these. Fortunately the Brindley and Foster that I play is high up on the north chancel wall and so I could only hear the church heating system. A couple of musicians in the audience threatened to commit a very un-Christian act involving the urn and the tea lady which resulted in the urn being turned off.

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.... which is a good argument for compulsory euthanasia - or, at the least, the banning of all children from organ lofts.

Ah, nice to see some of the "old school" attitude towards kids and organs is still prevalent in the 21st century... I gave up counting how many times I was given a terse and rude "brush off" by cranky organists in my youth when I first exhibited genuine interest in the instrument.. Very few organist were welcoming, and those who were seemed to be somewhat less technically gifted than those with all the attitude. Is there a relationship at play?

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Guest Andrew Butler
Ah, nice to see some of the "old school" attitude towards kids and organs is still prevalent in the 21st century... I gave up counting how many times I was given a terse and rude "brush off" by cranky organists in my youth when I first exhibited genuine interest in the instrument.. Very few organist were welcoming, and those who were seemed to be somewhat less technically gifted than those with all the attitude. Is there a relationship at play?

 

Perhaps they would have become better players had they learned early in their careers to tell kids to p*** off!? :o

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It's quite odd, because I keep talking, but none of it makes any sense
That's the norm for me.

 

Generally I can't talk without losing concentration on the music. I can manage a quick "Yes!" to my page turner without any problem or, if needs must, "Turn! Turn!! TURN THE BLOODY PAGE!!" but that's about it.

 

Even when what I'm playing is so easy I can do it on automatic pilot I would not willingly hold a conversation. You can't concentrate on that and the music - or at least I can't - and the music comes first.

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Generally I can't talk without losing concentration on the music. I can manage a quick "Yes!" to my page turner without any problem or, if needs must, "Turn! Turn!! TURN THE BLOODY PAGE!!" but that's about it.

 

Just after we first met I was playing the final voluntary at my not yet wife's church - she was supposed to nip back from amongst the altos at the end of the service to turn pages for me - it was not an easy piece but I did wonder quite what I was going to do when I saw her leaving the choirstalls in my mirror and heading for the vestry with the rest of the procession.

 

AJJ

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Thank goodness no-one has ever tried to talk to me when I have played Apparition de L'Eglise Eternal - they'd have to wait a long time for an answer!!!!

I certainly can't talk whilst playing Messaen (in the same way that I can't talk whilst piloting my private jet or whilst servicing my 500 concubines).

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it depends on the piece. a bach trio for instance needs an extra mind just to play, without holding a conversation, whereas a slower piece you normally have enough time to hold a conversation as well. Agree with an earlier poster, messiaen is a definite no-no

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it depends on the piece. a bach trio for instance needs an extra mind just to play, without holding a conversation, whereas a slower piece you normally have enough time to hold a conversation as well. Agree with an earlier poster, messiaen is a definite no-no

 

I try always to listen to what I am playing so never have time to make converastion. There is a notice by the console "Please do not talk to the organists when they are playing". It works.

 

FF

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Guest Lee Blick
it depends on the piece. a bach trio for instance needs an extra mind just to play, without holding a conversation, whereas a slower piece you normally have enough time to hold a conversation as well. Agree with an earlier poster, messiaen is a definite no-no

 

I don't know, but if you ARE playing Messiaen and someone does start a conversation and it slightly goes awry, who is going to notice? :o

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it depends on the piece. a bach trio for instance needs an extra mind just to play, without holding a conversation, whereas a slower piece you normally have enough time to hold a conversation as well. Agree with an earlier poster, messiaen is a definite no-no

 

If you were playing Priere du Christ from L'Ascension at Messiaen's recommended speed, you ought to have time for a phrase on each quaver, and quite a long conversation whilst holding down the long notes at the end of each phrase.

 

Philip Tordoff is able to talk whilst playing. I've even heard him talk about one piece whilst playing another. When teaching, he asks you quesions whilst you are playing, and expects you to answer. It's like when the dentist asks you what you do for a living whilst stuffing amalgam into a back tooth. At first I could barely manage a nod or shake of the head, but now I can manage short phrases, provided I carefully pick a suitable spot in the music to make my utterance.

 

I am sure somebody was telling me about Francis Jackson conducting a conversation with him whilst giving a recital at which my informant was his page turner.

 

I don't know, but if you ARE playing Messiaen and someone does start a conversation and it slightly goes awry, who is going to notice? :o

 

Me. At least in those pieces I know well.

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Guest Barry Williams
In another thread, Barry Williams mentioned that he can't talk and play at the same time.

 

Can you?

 

Do you know people who can hold a conversation whilst playing?

 

Are any well-known organists noted for being chatterers or for being mute?

 

 

I did not say that I could not, merely that I did not!

 

Barry Williams

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Guest Lee Blick
Philip Tordoff is able to talk whilst playing. I've even heard him talk about one piece whilst playing another. When teaching, he asks you quesions whilst you are playing, and expects you to answer.

 

Perhaps this should become one of the ARCO 'musicianship skills' requirements

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If you were playing Priere du Christ from L'Ascension at Messiaen's recommended speed, you ought to have time for a phrase on each quaver, and quite a long conversation whilst holding down the long notes at the end of each phrase.

 

Philip Tordoff is able to talk whilst playing. I've even heard him talk about one piece whilst playing another. When teaching, he asks you quesions whilst you are playing, and expects you to answer. It's like when the dentist asks you what you do for a living whilst stuffing amalgam into a back tooth. At first I could barely manage a nod or shake of the head, but now I can manage short phrases, provided I carefully pick a suitable spot in the music to make my utterance.

 

I am sure somebody was telling me about Francis Jackson conducting a conversation with him whilst giving a recital at which my informant was his page turner.

Me. At least in those pieces I know well.

 

 

================================

 

 

I can vouch for the factc that Philip Tordoff is able to talk and play at the same time. We've had many a conversation mid-Rheinberger Sonata; more often than not about old buses.

 

Carlo Curley can talk and play, while Virgil Fox could conduct, eyeball his audiences and talk to them when he played the Middelschulte "Perpetuem Mobile" or the "Jig Fugue."

 

I heard it said, that Noel Rawsthrone could do all this, and even drink a cup of tea at the same time.

 

Personally, I'm a trappist, but I can READ through the final voluntary while playing the final hymn, and continue to make mental note of the awkward moments to watch out for.

 

I once turned over pages when Eric Chadwick played at Bradford Cathedral. He was playing "Les Anges" from "La Nativite" and not only shrugged it off, but told me he knew it from memory and that it really wasn't a problem.

 

Not related to organ-playing, there is a famous story about the racing-driver Fangio, who was driving very fast in Tuscany. At a speed of 120mph, driving his personal Ferrari, a horse and cart emerged from a side-road. He braked, but could not stop in time. Instead, he yanked the handbrake on, slewed the car into a huge brodside and came to a halt about a foot away from the obstacle. It was then, that the reporter travelling with him, realised that Fangio was still talking about his boyhood in Argentina!!!!!!!

 

Interestingly, I could probably do the same as Fangio, but I cannot play music and talk at the same time.

 

There must be different ways that the bits of string are connected in different people.

 

MM

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