Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday, August 13

First of all, my lack of posts doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of practice, though my summer-glut of monster practice-sessions seems to have tapered off a bit.

Thursday night, I went to a cocktail party and met Russian pianist Konstantin Soukhovetski. Friday around 1:00, my parents came over. My dad went off to play golf with the Hubster while my mom and I visited and made a cobbler. That evening, we all had dinner and dessert to celebrate my dad's birthday. (Though I later got a message from Konstantin's host asking if I wanted to hear Konstantin practice Friday afternoon ... argh! Too late!) I did get to practice for about an hour on Friday night, but most of it was devoted to the music I would be playing on Sunday morning at church (though I also did the usual scales, arps, and inversions, plus a couple of play-throughs of the Liszt).

Saturday wasn't a day for practicing. I made chocolate truffles for part of the day in preparation for the "Classics and Chocolate" concert that night. I also did some much-needed house-cleaning. I'd rather practice than clean house, and it shows ... I am MUCH better at piano than I am at housework!

After the Konstantin concert, I came home and played through my old sonata, the Mozart A minor (K. 310), which I hadn't touched since my freshman year of college. Konstantin played it as part of his concert, and I was chomping at the bit to get home and play! Alas, my unpracticed version didn't sound quite as good as his ... but he got me thinking about doing a Mozart sonata next instead of a Haydn.

OK, enough babbling. On to my practice session.

I practiced for about 75 minutes tonight. Did scales (E and c#), inversions, and arps (Ab and f#). Skipped Suzuki and went straight to Bach. Since I hadn't had an intense practice in several days, I reviewed what I'd already learned (mm 16-24.75), and boy was it sloppy! I played through those measures several times, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, paying close attention to my hands, the fingering, the chords, and playing it ... perfectly. (Funny how "perfection" isn't so hard when you play at 10 or 20% of the speed you normally use.)

Once I was satisfied, I forged ahead to new territory: the last beat of measure 24, plus the first three beats of measure 25.

Whew. The challenges never end. I worked on the final beat of measure 24, which, for some reason, gave me trouble. When I finally managed to coordinate my hands, I played it twenty times through (twenty being the magic number), and then the entire measure twenty times, and it sounded good. Then it was on to measure 25.

OK. This measure made me feel like my head was going to explode.

All three voices take part in most of this snippet. Probably the most challenging part for me was the second beat of measure 25. All three voices are playing: the soprano (RH) is restating the subject using sixteenth and eighth notes, the alto (RH) is harmonizing with descending half-notes and held quarter notes, and the bass (LH) is playing the counter-subject, which is made of sixteenth notes and has a "pattering" sound.

Well, at one point, the alto plays the B# above middle C (i.e., an octave above middle C), the soprano plays a B# an octave higher, and the bass plays a G# below middle C. Not that confusing. Only ...

The soprano note is a staccato eighth note. The alto note is a half note (i.e., it needs to be "held" for a couple of beats). The bass note, meanwhile, should be played as a kind of detached legato. Basically, this means I play three notes, each of varying lengths, simultaneously.

It's harder than it sounds, but it also, surprisingly, didn't take me as long to master as I thought it would.

Twenty is the magic number. I played the first three beats of measure 25 twenty times. Then mm 24 and 25 twenty times. Then the section from mm 19 to 25 a few times (not twenty). Then mm 16 through 25.

Woo hoo! Sixteen million hours of practice, and I can now play ten, count 'em, TEN measures HT! Moving right along, I am!

Tomorrow I'm going to review what I did tonight, but I'm also going to work more on the Liszt, since poor Franzi was neglected ... again.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Hi, I stumbled across your blog by searching for "piano blog".. :) I'm going to bookmark it and read it all tomorrow.

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