Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dance of the Nail-bitten Digits (A Ramble and an Analogy)

I am loving Liszt. I love the way my hands have to "share" the melody in "Standchen." I have so much to write on that, but I'm borrowing a computer and don't have enough time to do it justice. Suffice it to say that I've practiced three and a half wonderful hours today, and about two hours on Liszt alone.

What I find wonderful about the Liszt is that it pushes one hand hard, but not too hard. Then the other hand gets a turn to be pushed. But it's never both at the same time, and never one hand for too long. It's hard to explain. When I have more time to write, I'll word things rather more eloquently, I'm sure.

All I can say now is that my fingers feel like they're dancing a wonderful, graceful dance. I've been trying to "play with my body," as my piano teacher says to do, so all of me is dancing.

And Standchen, though it still need a lot of work (like, um, learning Sections 1 through 8), is sounding really good.

I'm so eager for tomorrow to get here so I can practice some more.

It is so nice not to be nail-gnawingly stressed. I'm still very tired and not sleeping like a pro, but I'm so much better than I was a week ago.

People can say what they want about how classical pianists are snobs and that playing pop music or New Age arpeggiated mood music or even just improvising is just as good as playing pieces from the classical repertoire ... but there is no experience like playing Liszt. Or Bach. Nothing compares. There is nothing like working, working, and working to get each little nuance perfect, and then being able to play it. Nothing in the world.

I'm not at the point at which I can play any of it at tempo. But that time will come.

Analogy o' Day: Imagine you have a huge present underneath the Christmas tree, or on your birthday-present table, or wherever. It's something you really want. It's wrapped, maybe even double- or triple- or quadruple-wrapped.

Now for the analogy o' day. The "present" is the ability to play the piece well, with all of your mind, heart, body, soul, everything. The "wrapping" refers to each practice session. Each session is a tearing away of a piece of wrapping. Imagine going, day after day after day, to tear off just a small shred of paper. You get a little closer to the actual present each time. Sometimes you tear a lot of paper, and sometimes you just get a tiny bit. Still, you know that someday, someday, you'll finally get through to the gift inside. I'm looking forward to my practice sessions more than ever these days because the gift inside is getting more and more attainable.

And it is a gift.

Life is good.

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