Thursday, October 21, 2004

Yet Another Piano Post

This is my piano teacher. Well, it's an old article about a workshop she did. Today is her birthday. Happy Birthday, Deborah!

She teaches a workshop titled "Instant Piano (For Hopelessly Busy People)." I'm not taking that class, though. I'm signed up for "Labor-Intensive and Painstakingly Slow Piano (For Hopelessly Busy People)." It's maybe a bit more difficult and expensive than "Instant Piano," but it's probably more rewarding, too, in the long run. Hee hee.

Good practice today. I'm still taking the Bach-Appetizer/Mozart-MainCourse/Chopin-Dessert approach. After doing scales and arpeggios and such, I started with the Bach E-flat Sinfonia. I'm technically "finished" (ha) with this piece, but Deborah wants me to play it for the group piano class next week. I was playing it well back in August when I "finished" it, but now I'm not happy with how it sounds.

Oh, it doesn't sound bad; I got an assessment of "Lovely!" in my little piano assignment notebook at my lesson the other day when I played it. But it's just not quite right. Perhaps I'm being a perfectionist. Perhaps I've listened to too much Glenn Gould. But this is a three-part invention I'm playing, and I want each voice to sing its own part with crystal clarity. Right now, I feel like I'm playing the notes too "together," like there aren't three different, individual voices.

When learning this piece, I originally imagined small children playing quietly and contentedly at a beach ... kind of like this Cassatt painting, only add a little boy to your own image of the painting in your head.

You know how little kids can be playing, sort of with each other but not really, each kind of doing their own thing yet all in the same place, playing together? Well, I kind of imagined that when learning the Sinfonia. The left hand was a little boy, playing maybe a little more methodically than the little girls, as the left hand is more "rhythmic." Maybe that's not the right word. Ground-bassy? Is that a word? I wish I really need a music dictionary. Or just a dictionary!

Anyway, the two voices in the right hand are two little girls, doing their own thing, but are never far apart and often crossing paths (harmonizing) as they play. And the little boy, doing his own thing, is, in his own very real way, involved in the whole overall playgroup. Because the left hand is what unifies the other voices in the piece.

At least that's how I understood it.

Anyway, I had this picture in my mind as I played, and the image of children playing really gave me a sense of the three separate voices, even though my ten fingers were playing them all at once. Now, however, I feel like I have the kids in a chorus line, and they're just as stumbly and fumbly as kids in a chorus line could be expected to be. Maybe it doesn't sound that way, but it feels that way. Tonight I'm going to record myself playing and see if I'm hearing it differently than I think I'm playing it. Because I want them out of the chorus line and back doing their own whimsical-seeming things.

After practicing the Bach, I moved on to ... dessert. I couldn't help it. It's just that dessert is so GOOD! The Chopin B-flat minor nocturne is dessert. I savored it. Until I choked on a pecan piece, I mean, the trilly measure toward the end. I ended up putting dessert away for later, since I wasn't supposed to be eating it yet anyway. I'll probably have it for dinner. I'm not going to share my imaginary story line for this one because it has to do with a heroic grandpa mouse, and it's really kind of silly.

Then came the Mozart Fantasie in D minor. Ah. I am starting to love this piece. It seems so schizophrenic, but I"m starting to get a better sense of it. It helps that I'm a little mentally unsound myself. I proceeded to spend the rest of my lunch hour working on the cadenza-type sections. I used to love playing Mozart because I LOVED running my stubby little fingers up and down the keyboard as fast as I could. I still love it, but I think I'm getting a slight touch of arthritis. Also, I'm not the young whippersnapper I once was. Hands don't move as fast as they used to.

That's what I've been telling myself. But today, as I practiced those runs, I listened to myself. Those notes were moving at a decent pace. And they were even, for the most part. They weren't perfect--I won't pretend they were--but there was a noticeable difference between how I played them a few days ago and how I played them today. They're sounding better.

You know, when I started taking piano last December, I figured I would learn a few pieces for fun. I didn't expect to actually start sounding GOOD again.

But I did. I sounded good. Not great, but better. Not concert-pianist caliber of course, but good, solid, maybe-how-I-played-when-I-was-in-college caliber. Maybe. Made me a happy girl.

Have I ever mentioned that I love piano? Just wanted to say that, in case anyone hasn't realized it yet. :-)

1 comment:

oceanskies79 said...

Sharing your delight and joy that you sounded better. I suppose it's because "practice makes perfect"? It may be more than that, I think the next time you find your playing sounding better, it could be because you are "playing music from your heart and soul". All the best.

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