Monday, July 10, 2006

Monday, July 10

I've been going through the dark night of the soul and suffering the tortures of the damned for the past few days. (Maybe that's a little extreme, but things have been pretty bad.) Piano is the one constant I can keep going back to. I'm finding so much solace in it these days. I can't do too much of anything else, but at least I can play scales and drill single measures and repeat small groups of measures over and over again.

Today I had two practice sessions. For Session 1, I worked on scales, arpeggios, inversions, and Liszt. Even though I've only just started spending more time on scales, I can already see the difference. I continue to play with rhythms. This time I played funky jazz-sounding rhythms, with lots of syncopation and odd assortments of fast and slow notes. I repeated notes and "riffs" here and there (always the scales in similar and contrary motion) ... and it was fun--A whole lot more fun than just playing up and down the keyboard with the metronome. And when I did go back to the more traditional way of playing the scale, it sounded so much better.

Folks, I think I have a fun new way to practice scales.

The latent composer in me is screaming, "Write an etude! Write an etude!" But I'm ignoring it for now. Right now I want to focus on learning those scales as well as possible. If a mini-etude gets written in the process, then so be it.

Arpeggios, too, are benefitting from the added attention. They are starting to sound really good. Even the ever-pesky Gb major and Eb minor arps didn't sound too shabby today.

For my morning Liszt practice, I worked (again) on the 9-against-4s. Sigh. So frustrating. But it's coming. It's just a matter of time. I made some headway today--learned that if I focus more on the triplets in the RH rather than the eighth notes in the LH, I don't get so confused.

I also focused on a very small section that includes the "echoing notes." I can play it, but it's not 100% comfortable. So I drilled and drilled and drilled. Worked really hard on making the main theme come out and having the "echo" play softly, almost as background. It gets a little tricky at times.

Here's a tangent: I love watching David Effron conduct at the Brevard Music Center. He is a true showman. He's very animated up there, and he looks like he's having so much fun that he makes me wish I'd become a conductor myself. When he wants the strings to quiet down, he'll but his index finger to his lips like he's whispering, "Shhhh." It's great. He whispers "shhh," and the strings die right down. Just like that.

So when I was practicing the Liszt today, whenever I got to an "echo," I had this image of David Effron whispering "shhh" to the orchestra. And it helped me to remember to "shush" the echo. As I continued to practice, I imagined having a conductor in my head, motioning to increase the volume, speed up a little, "shhhh," etc., depending on what the music said to do. It was so much fun. Kind of like being my own little orchestra with my own conductor. I think I'm going to do more of that.

Tonight's practice focused on Bach. I did more scales and arpeggios first because they're immensely therapeutic, then I went on to the fugue.

I feel almost like I'm taking a step backward with the fugue, but I think it's a necessary step. I wrote about it in a previous post, so I won't go into details here. The sections that I've learned by memory (and have drilled a million times) are sounding very, very good. I'm so happy with how they sound and how my hands are molding into the their roles. I haven't covered a lot of ground in the fugue this week because I've been working so hard on such small parts. But I've gone deep rather than wide, and that's important, too.

And you know what? I'm in no hurry to master this. No hurry at all. It'll happen when it happens.

Time for sleep.

Today's total practice time: About 130 minutes.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on learning Standchen. It is beautiful. Have you listened to Horowitz's recording of it. It is so beautiful it almost made me cry! Much success in your playing

dulciana said...

I love practicing in rhythms - odd how something so simple can help so much!

Four Months Later ...

It's 8:04 a.m. Normally at this time, I write in my journal for about an hour before starting my day. It's not the most exciting jou...