Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Progress and Accountability

I've been practicing in fits and starts lately. I am so mad at myself. I don't know why I do this. I love piano and I love practicing, but for some stupid reason, I fail to make it a priority, day after day after day. Why?

I think part of it has to do with where I am in each piece. I'm slogging through every last one of them. I have all the notes, and learning them was no small task. But now it's time to work on the hard stuff: tone, dynamics, articulation, articulation, articulation, and gestures, gestures, gestures. Those last ones are the big challenges for me. Oh, and pedaling in the Liszt.

So, I've come a long way from the starting point, and I've thought I've seen glimpses of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. (I know. It's all light. It's the journey not the destination. But geez.) At this point, I just feel like I'm slogging. Trying to make my way through a swamp of notes and rests and pedaling and dynamics. Progress comes, but it's slow to come.

Here's what's really frustrating: progress would come a lot faster if I were to make piano more of a priority. Just tonight I sat down for 20 minutes and perfected two measures of the fugue by playing rhythms in 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s. And it only took 20 minutes. Then I spent 20 more minutes on two more measures. Forty minutes total, and I can play those four measures, holding all the right notes, staccato-ing all the right notes, doing everything the way I'm supposed to.

(Have you noticed ... even when you play Bach in weird rhythms with weird timings ... that the music still sounds miraculous?)

I think I need to do some soul-searching here. Or something like that. Most of my time lately has gone to writing, running, freelance jobs, "homemaking," and Hubster. To tell the truth, Hubster has been my biggest priority, and "homemaking" is part of that.

OK, I feel a sudden need to defend myself.

I put "homemaking" in quotes because I'm not much of a homemaker. "Homemaking," though, refers to home-care, everything from washing clothes to changing sheets to scrubbing toilets to vacuuming to cleaning out the litter box to raking leaves to grocery-shopping to making dinner to doing the dishes. Of course the Hubster helps, but he also has a very demanding job, and I don't. So this is the way things are for now, and it's something we've both agreed on, and it's something we're both happy with. So there.

But I will rue the day when scrubbin' becomes more important than Scriabin. Or, to apply it more to my repertoire, when baking becomes more important than Bach-ing.

I'm trying a new approach to things. Sometimes I can just practice "when I feel like it" and manage to get in an hour or two of practice time a day ... because I really feel like practicing that much. Other times, like now, when I'm slogging through the middle of a piece, practicing "when I feel like it" means not practicing all that much. This has got to change. It's time to impose a new schedule on my life.

I'm going to try this one:

5:45-6:45 a.m. -- Run
6:45-7:45 a.m. -- Clean some house, then shower
8:00-9:45 a.m. -- Practice piano
10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. -- Work on the novel (this is when I do my best writing)
1:00-4:00 p.m. -- Freelance work
4:00-6:00 p.m. -- Errands, including groceries
6:00-8:00 p.m. -- Make dinner, do dishes, clean kitchen
8:00-9:30 p.m. -- Hubster time!
9:30-10:15 p.m. -- Read, go to sleep

We'll see how this works. I know I don't have any eating time in there. It's there. I just didn't inlcude it. But this gives me an hour and forty-five minutes for practice. Wish me luck!

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