Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Music and Scheduling

One of the frustrating things about music being an "extracurricular activity" is that it's hard to schedule time for it. I whined a little bit about this in yesterday's post. But I'm not going to whine this morning. I'm going to make a plan. I'm going to take action. I'm going to make some choices.



But first I'll give you a long-overdue Music Update.



Holiday time was vacation time, and I didn't have access to a piano for much of it. So, I didn't practice as much as usual. I've resumed my regular practice sessions (somewhat) this week. I'm struggling with playing an even, measured Alberti bass in the last section of the Mozart. And playing the right-hand runs evenly in the middle sections. I can play everything fast, but not as evenly as I'd like. So that's what I'm working on in the Mozart.



As for the Dett, I have all the notes down and am working on the hands-together thing now. At the same time, I'm playing sections in different rhythms, emphasizing beats that aren't supposed to be emphasized. It's hard because there is a lot of syncopation in the piece. But this exercise definitely helps with muscle-memory.



Deborah has me playing contrary motion scales in addition to everything else, and they're a challenge. Oh, it's not a challenge to play C, or F or G or E-flat major in contrary motion ... but c# minor? f# minor? Oh my. It makes me feel like my brain is a big lump of slightly hardened pottery clay and the god of music is painstakingly molding parts of it into new and unfamiliar shapes. Intense but very exciting. Mental growing pains. When I'm playing with each hand at opposite ends of the piano, though, it makes me wish my eyes were further apart.



And then there is music theory. Poor, neglected theory. Actually, I've been doing a lot of "ear training"--I guess that's what you would call it. Playing LOTS of Bach chorales and saying, "Hm, here's a passing 6-4 chord. Listen to it." So I shut my eyes and play it and really focus on the ... color? ... of the sound. Get to know it. Learn to recognize it when I hear it in something else. Know what I'm imagining when I hear that sound in my mind. Same thing with certain suspensions or simple progressions.



I spent the week before Christmas focusing on how it sounds to go from I to IV to I, and how different composers do it without making it sound bland or hackneyed. Played things slowly, leaving out certain voices, raising or lowering one of the voices to explore how the tone color (am I using the right terminology here?) changes. Last night I explored some of how certain composers resolve diminished seventh chords ... and why the resolution works.



While no visible product is created by these hours of exploration, I think I'm learning a great deal. Thinking of the old noggin as a great, big iron kettle over a low fire. Right now I'm just throwing the ingredients in. And smelling the different combinations of aromas. And waiting.



Who knows, maybe I'll end up with something like booyah.



So, about scheduling and choices ...



I'm thinking about cutting back on the music theory "lessons." Vance and I have been meeting once a week, but it seems to make more sense to meet with him "just whenever." He's more of a coach than a teacher, really. I'm very self-motivated. He just nudges me along in a certain direction, points me to certain resources, and gives me guidance when I get stuck or confused. Then I'm off on my own again. Exploring. I think I would rather work for a few weeks or a month, then when I've written something, or have collected enough questions, just give him a call and see when we're both free to get together and go over things for an hour or two. Doesn't that sound like a good idea? Rather than meeting for a scheduled hour per week, whether I'm ready for it or not?



Much to blog about today. But I still have that work deadline hanging over my music-filled head. This morning I'm feeding my Mass in B Minor addiction while documenting IT software. Clay feet on the ground, blonde head in the clouds. Life is good today.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Waterfall, it is inspiring for me to hear about your music theory lessons and music compositions. Reading your posts on these has often tempted me to polish up my music theory knowledge. A good knowledge of music theory may help me appreciate the music that I play much better, but I have yet to go further to learn as in depth as you have done.

    Anyway, a short note to support you in your endeavours. Despite music being your "extracurricular activity", you are doing fine.

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