A Date with George

We're reviewing, reading, and watching movies today at school (mostly), so I didn't have the usual hours of "homework" last night. Hubster had a meeting that ran until 9:30, so I was alone at the house, with no school work calling me.

What's a poor girl to do in a situation like this?

George and I had the most wonderful date. I poured myself a glass of good merlot and went to the Inner Sanctum at around 7:00, and I didn't come in until long after Hubster had returned home.

I played Hanon. I love that warm, itchy, tingly feeling the fingers get after a few rounds of Hanon exercises. Then I did my scales. I'm currently on 66 on the metronome, four notes to a beat, contrary motion, all keys (but only a few keys per practice session). That's not very fast--not nearly as fast as I played scales in college--but these are contrary motion, and progress has been slow. Also, my focus isn't so much on speed as it is on accuracy.

I've been having some difficulty with technique. Apparenty, I'm twisting my wrist when it's time to bring my thumb under in the course of the scale. I don't know why I do this. I don't think it's something I've always done. I can't seem to stop doing it. My hands should be smooth, my wrists straight, but they want to do the twisty-wrist dance. Even though they're not allowed.

Next, I worked on the Suzuki Bach. It's a minuet in G that I played in the third grade. The notes were easy enough to learn, but Deborah is a stickler for technique and articulation, and that's what I'm focusing on. The easiness of the notes makes it easier for me to focus on those things without having to worry about missing the notes.

Then ... sigh ... it was time for sinfonias. I'm feeling a little sad because it will soon be time to say farewell to both of them. I definitely have a sense of transition right now, knowing that I'll soon finish the sinfonias and start in earnest on the P&F and the Liszt (in spring) and the Chopin Ballade (in summer). At the same time, I am so excited about working on such challenging music.

The G-minor sounds lovely, just lovely, if I may say so myself. Even so, I drilled a few parts that didn't quite sound "perfect"--the phrase didn't sound clean, or the notes weren't exactly even. I love practicing this way. I love drilling the heck out of little bits and pieces of music, and then working them back into the whole. It's kind of like spending lots and lots of time getting to know just one person in a huge circle of new friends.

The B-minor isn't as far along, but I've worked it up to 72 on the metronome. I can play it faster than that, but it starts sounding sloppy above 72. I have worked so hard on the broken chords, and it feels good to be able to rip them off and having them still sound clean and ... Bachian. It's funny, because I know for a fact that I would have hated this piece had I learned it as a teenager. It's a piece that doesn't look that hard on the surface (and in truth, it's not the most difficult piece in the world), but it takes a lot of painstakingly focused work to get it just so.

Ah, but isn't all of Bach like that?

After practicing my pieces for a couple of hours (including taping myself for self-critique), I poured myself second glass of fine merlot and returned to the Inner Sanctum. I turned off the lights and lay down lengthwise on the piano bench with a pillow, which feels wonderful on my back. I hit "play" on the tape deck, shut my eyes, and listened to the recordings I had just made. Not perfect--I'm robbing a measure of the beat here, or the intended melody doesn't come out strongly enough there--but certainly nothing to be ashamed of. And some parts--many parts--sounded quite good. The broken chords, on which I've worked so diligently, sounded smooth, clean, and flawless.

After listening, I sat up and played some more. Didn't turn the light on. Just played stuff--songs I'd written, my Chopin nocturne in B-flat minor, some slow jazz improvisations, some easy-cheesy New Age crap ... it was a very pleasant way to end the evening's date with George.

Just think ... I'll get to do a lot more of this kind of thing in the summer. I can't wait!

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