Monday, October 2, 2017

Perpetual Motion

This weekend I did a lot of writing to figure out why I'm having so much trouble making time for what should be my priorities outside of family: piano, writing, voice, guitar, exercise. Five big things that I can't seem to make time for. The title of this blog post, "Perpetual Motion," is a good description of my life these days. I want to stop, get off the ride, and spend some time alone where I can work on the things that are important to me. Yet the ride keeps getting faster.

I did manage to find some time to practice this weekend, and I woke up early this morning to exercise, write, and practice a bit of guitar. The real reason I titled this post "Perpetual Motion" is that it's the name of a Suzuki piece I'm learning on guitar.

We hit a bit of a setback in guitar a month or two ago when I asked my guitar teacher (Steve) to give me easier pieces. One thing about having been a piano student for such a long time: I can tell when a piece, or a level, isn't the right one. There are at least two types of "too-hard" pieces:
  • One that is at the high edge of your current level, where you have to really work to get to the next level. Ideally, you are using a good foundation of techniques you have already learned, and your challenges are pointed and specific, whether they are as simple as "recognize and play the notes" or more complex: "make this transition as smooth as possible," "get the dynamics just right in this measure," etc. 
  • One that requires technique that you haven't yet developed, but that is also challenging on countless other levels. If there is a simpler piece that allows you to work on the undeveloped technique, then you should play the simpler piece.
This isn't theory I've read anywhere; it's just what I've picked up as a lifelong piano student who also has the mind of a teacher. I was still having trouble matching notes to strings, reading the fingerings, and plucking the strings with good technique, and the harder pieces just had too much going on--tricky fingerings for playing three or four notes at a time, and such. Beautiful pieces, but not the right ones ... not yet, at least.

So I told Steve this wasn't working. I wanted simpler pieces that would allow me to master certain foundational techniques before moving on to the more complicated pieces. ("Complicated" being anything beyond primer level.)

He had me start with Suzuki Book 1, and it's been just what I needed. I've worked my way through the first 2/3 of the book, focusing really hard on technique, playing the notes smoothly, etc. And I've improved.

This morning I worked on S. Suzuki's "Perpetual Motion." While I don't have it perfected, I'm pleased with the progress I've made. I really want to be able to play this one legato--and legato is a challenge on guitar.

Here's where I am now; I'll post another version in a week or two so I can compare it to this one.

That's it for now. Time to go wake up the kid.

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