Five Glorious Hours

I have two sets of favorite guys. Set #1 consists of Hubster and my cat, Beau (in that order). Set #2 consists of George the Piano, Sebastian, Franz, Frederic, Wolfie, and whatever other composers I happen to be learning at the time.

I spent an hour today taking a walk with Set #1 (yes, Beau came with us). Then I spent another hour making and eating dinner with Hubster.

But I spent five--count 'em--five glorious hours with Set #2. My hands are coursing with energy. They ache, but they feel so wonderful. What a workout.

One of the most frustrating things about being an adult piano student is that I have long periods of life where I'm too busy and/or too tired to practice. So practice sessions are sometimes few and far between. My five hours today came after a full week of not touching the piano, and I haven't practiced on a regular basis since I started teaching last August. This means seriously slow progress. It is frustrating, but it's all I can do for now.

I spent a couple of hours early this afternoon working mostly on the fugue. I'm learning the individual parts and can play each part pretty smoothly up to Episode II. A lot of today's practice consisted of getting re-acquainted with the piece. I worked on it pretty intensely several weeks ago, and most of it came back pretty quickly. I did a bit of work on the prelude, but my real focus is the fugue because it's about 1,000 times more complicated.

Then, this evening, I worked mostly on Standchen (the Liszt). I feel like I got the music for this ages ago (I did--last February), but I've maybe spent two hours on it in the last two months. Really. I've divided the piece into 13 sections and ranked them from most difficult to least. Then I dove into the most difficult section tonight: Section 12. I ended up dividing it into Section 12 and Section 12.5 because it's kind of long.

I worked on Section 12 tonight and kept thinking, "This piece is really too hard for me. I don't know if I should be learning it yet." After an hour, I had Section 12 down cold and no longer thought the piece was too hard. If I could learn the most difficult section, hands together, within an hour, then the piece isn't too hard. It's just about right.

And it's soooo beautiful. I can't wait until I can play it well. I have this longing to play it, and, while each step of learning it is a joy in itself, I yearn for the day when I can sit down and really put myself into it, without worrying about hitting the right notes.

Drilling is a part of any piano practice--playing the same little bits and pieces over and over again. With this practice, I made sure I had a goal for each time I played a set of measures. Make sure I play a certain part smoothly. Make sure I have the crescendo at the end of the measure. Make sure I hit that G that I keep missing. Stuff like that. Very focused, very directed practice. Is is already paying off.

I can't wait until tomorrow. I wanted to keep practicing, but it's almost 11:00 and I'm tired! Besides, Set #1 is on the couch, waiting for me to snuggle while the three of us watch the beginning of a movie!


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