Friday, June 30, 2006

Date with Bach

This morning I worked on the fugue for two hours. Got the last two pages of it smooth as silk (well, maybe not THAT smooth, but they sounded much better at the end of the practice session than at the beginning). I'm still playing it hands-separately, of course, but I can tell I'm nearing the point at which I can take the next step and actually start playing it hands-together.

No time for details, as usual. But it was good to have a date with Bach. Liszt wasn't even allowed.

I'm hoping for a second practice session this evening. A hot Friday night date with Franz Liszt. Sounds ideal to me. Too bad he's dead.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

No Time for Details

Practice for three hours (so far) today.

Just a few minutes on scales, inversions, and arps. I'm playing them faster, so I'm actually able to play more per day and not feel like I'm spending all my time on technical exercises.

About 30 minutes on the Bach Prelude. As I've mentioned before, I'm not really "supposed" to be starting on it. However, the Fugue and Standchen are both so hairy ... it's nice to have an easy ("easy" being a relative term) piece to warm up on. I've also been reviving some of the 2- and 3-part inventions that I've learned in the past as ways of warming up my hands and mind before diving into the harder stuff.

About 30 minutes on the Fugue. I've spend a lot of time lately on Liszt, so I'm planning a nice, long date with the Fugue later this week, probably tomorrow or Friday. I have the entire thing hand-separately, but it's not very polished sounding. I'm going to keep working hands-separately until my next lesson, which is a week from today.

Almost two lovely hours on Liszt. I now have the section with the 9-against-4 triplets all the way through the end. I'm not to tempo yet, but I'm gotten beyond my usual creeping pace, and it's really sounding lovely (if I may say so myself--but it's Liszt, not me (not I?), who makes it sound that way).

Tomorrow I'll start learning Sections 6 through 8, which is where the melody is played in the bass. The pulsing, accompanying chords are played in the bass, too, which means lots of handwiching. (A handwich is where the hands are practically on top of each other, both playing different things.)

No time to write more. Frustrating because I have so very much to write!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dance of the Digits

Note: I've expanded significantly on this post over at my other blog, A Sort of Notebook.

I am loving Liszt. I love the way my hands have to "share" the melody. 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 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 nice.

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

Monday, June 26, 2006

Lots of Practice, Little Blogging

I'm on a trip to my home state of Louisiana and will have intermittent internet access all week. So, I won't be posting much on this blog or my other one. However, I will be practicing for hours upon hours on the piano at a local church. I'll post a great big practice log after I get back home to North Carolina.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Practice Log for Wednesday, June 21

Today was lesson day. I'd planned to practice this evening, but I had a nasty bout with insomnia last night and am too tired to do much of anything tonight. So I just played through everything once (including Gb and eb scales at 76 and Db and bb arps at 60) and called it a night.

If I have another insomnia night, I'll spend it answering e-mails and responding to comments on both this blog and my other one. But I hope to sleep well tonight. It's been a while since I've slept.

So good night!

Piano Lesson

I had my lesson today. It went pretty well, despite the fact that Deborah (my teacher) and I both went into it feeling frustrated (due to non-piano matters).

Scales sounded beautiful at 76. I played B-major and G#-minor for her. (I play one major and one minor at each lesson--whichever she happens to ask for. Keeps me guessing.) Played 'em without a hitch, I did. With the chord inversions, she wants me to use my arms more. I'm being all spidery-fingered, but she said to play them more as a motion of the body and not a technical feat of the hands only (my words, not hers). She's very graceful as a pianist--imagine a ballet dancer, only using all of her gracefulness at the piano--and I can tell that her use of the "whole body" movement in playing contributes to her gracefulness.

So I'm really going to focus on the motion that I use to play the inversions this week--and not just getting the notes right. I'm past the point of trying to figure out the notes anyway.

My arpeggios rocked. Yeah, baby.

We didn't spend a lot of time on the fugue. I had a couple of fingering-related questions in Section 2, which she addressed, and we decided on an alternative fingering with a little less worry about trying to hold a note with my pinky while playing another note twelve notes down with my thumb (can't be done!). For next lesson, I'm just going to continue working through the sections (I've divided it into eight) hands separately.

As for the prelude, it's not a high priority at this point. I'll continue focusing on it a little bit several times a week, but I won't really dive into it until the fugue is much further along.

Most of the time was spent on the Liszt. Deborah made a very good suggestion that I record myself playing the 9-against-4. I'd thought about doing that but was frankly too lazy to go downstairs and get my tape recorder, find a blank tape, etc.

For Section 10, I need to remember that I'm playing two voices, or "characters"--the lower voice and the higher echo. It's one of those things that I know but forget because I'm too busy trying to make sure I have the notes and the timing down. She said I'm playing it beautifully, by the way, which was a nice boost to the old ego. :)

She also had nice things to say about Sections 12 and 13 (the last page and a half of the piece). I have the notes down, though they could be much more "down." I do need to make sure I focus on dynamic contrasts. At this point, as with Section 10, I'm still not completely confident that I have all the notes (except at super-slow tempos), so that's affecting other things. More drilling is in store for this week! I'm getting the notes, but I'm not quite there yet.

Speaking of confidence, I sometimes get major confidence problems with piano--thinking "I'm not good enough" or "This piece is out of my league." Part of me is scared Deborah will say, "You know, this piece is really too hard for you. I think you might be better off playing [insert easy piece of choice here]." I voiced my self-doubts today, and (after telling me that I was being ridiculous) she told me that she'd had a piano teacher in grad school who told her that a piece was too difficult for her. Deborah basically said, "Screw you, Prof--I love this piece, I want to play it, and I'm learning it whether you approve or not." So she learned to play it beautifully and her prof actually apologized for underestimating Deborah's abilities.

So basically, she was telling me, "If you love this piece and really want to play it, you can." (She also added that, knowing my practice habits, motivation, and natural ability, she knew I was capable. She wasn't just saying that wishing it were so would make it so.)

I love the piece and really want to play it. So I guess I'm on my way!

No More Practices Before My Lesson Today

I'm very sad about this. This is one of the times I wish I could be a music student and just say "no" to all of the other life responsibilities, claiming that music is more important because I'm paying for my education and I don't want to waste my money.

Alas, music is not my vocation or my primary course of study in a conservatory. It's a mere hobby (she said bitterly)--or, as Julia Cameron writes in The Artist's Way, "fluff around the edges of life."

It is difficult to feel so passionate about fluff.

Commitments, responsibilities, and my own dark moods kept me away from piano yesterday, and I have several appointments this morning before my piano lesson. One is actually a lunch I'm looking forward to, so perhaps I shouldn't complain.

Also, I practiced more in the past week than I was able to practice in a month when I was teaching. So I'll just be thankful for the practice time I did get.

Balance. Balance. Balance.

Acceptance, acceptance, acceptance.

Piano-lesson report to come!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Practice Log for Monday, June 19

Spent a good 20 minutes on scales, arps, inversions, and Suzuki. I'm in Book 2 of Suzuki and am working on the fourth Bach minuet in there. It's so easy. I really don't feel like I get a lot out of Suzuki, but I'm trusting my piano teacher's judgment on this one. I learned the piece by ear and played through it a few times, paying attention to the rests, the held notes, the crescendos, and the decrescendos on the CD.

Next, I spent about 20 minutes on the Bach Prelude in C# Major. This is a deceptively easy piece, but, as I've mentioned before, I'm treating it as a hard piece. It would be so easy for me to play through it quickly, learn it by muscle memory, and develop a bunch of careless-mistake-style bad habits that I'll have to go back and fix later. So I'm treading very carefully on this one. Drilled some of the trickier parts of the first 31 measures (specifically, measures 8-9, 13-17, 21-25, and 29-31). These parts are tricky because they are transition measures, where the right and left hands trade places, so to speak.

I can play the first 31 measures through pretty smoothly, and at a nice tempo, so I know I'm ready to move on to the following sections in my next practice.

I worked on the Bach Fugue in C# Major for about 45 minutes. I've divided it into the following sections so far:

Section 1: Measures 1-16
Section 2: Measures 16-22
Section 3: Measures 22-28
Section 4: Measures 28-34

Working hands-separately, I drilled different parts of Sections 3 and 4. Measure 21 has proven particularly elusive for my left hand. I love playing it, hearing the different voices and all, but it's not easy at first. (Heck, it's still not easy, and I've probably played that measure 100 times!) I absolutely love Sections 3 and 4 of the fugue. Measure 21 is one of my favorite measures for the LH, as is Measure 24--also a tricky one, but oh-so-much fun to hear!

In the RH, I love the descending motif starting in Measure 30 and going through to Measure 34. It's not the only time that motif shows up in the fugue, but it just sounds so beautiful when it's in the soprano, singing high above everything else.

I LOVE this piece. It is a challenge for my brain as well as for my fingers, particularly when I'm learning something like Measure 21, where I'm hearing (and focusing on) two melodies at once and watching my left hand play them. I did the same thing in the 2- and 3-part inventions, but this is different in that it's a bit more complex.

So I just hope my brain doesn't explode when I finally start learning it hands-together.

After practicing Sections 3 and 4, I played through Sections 1-4 twice, hands separately, slowly. I have a lesson on Wednesday, and I think I'm going to spend the next couple of practice sessions (before my lessons) continuing to practice and drill parts of Sections 1-4. I can play these sections, but they're still not cemented in my mind.

I only had about 15 minutes left for Liszt. The 9-against-4 and the double-dotted notes of Section 9, as well as the 2-against-3 with ornaments and voicing in section 10, are cerebral challenges in themselves, so I just practiced those few sections with the metronome, going v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. I'm gaining a sense for the left hand's quarter-note "pulsing"--a sense that still wants to evaporate as soon as I switch my brain to whatever is going on in the right hand. But I'm holding on to it a little more successfully with each practice. It will still take a while before I'm completely comfortable with it, but it's coming along.

That's about it for tonight. Looks like I practiced for a total of about 100 minutes today.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Practice Log for Sunday, June 18

Spent a whopping 10 minutes running through some scales and arpeggios. It was an impromptu practice session because I didn't have time for a "real" one. I worked on F, Dm, C, and Am for the scales--easy ones. Along with scales, I also do chord inversions in octaves. That's kind of new for me (the octave part, not the inversion part) and has taken some getting used to.

Arpeggios are easy, whether I'm playing them in similar motion or contrary motion. I don't know why I don't have more trouble with them. The only keys that I'm sometimes sloppy with are, strangely enough, Bb major and B minor.

I'm headed to a music performance this evening (which will include a pianist!). If I'm not too tired, I'll have a "real" practice when I get home.

Who knows--maybe I'll be so inspired by the performance that I'll want to practice into the wee hours of the night!

Update: The performance was wonderful, but now it's 10:17 p.m. and I'm TIRED! Oh well, I'll just have to doubly-immerse myself in piano tomorrow, since I missed today. :)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

On Contrary Motion Scales

I don't plan to do a lot of linking between here and my other blog, but I thought some of you might be interested in "Cursed Animosity," a somewhat humorous little post I wrote last year on learning contrary-motion scales. I've come a long way since writing it, though the minors can still be rather ... contrary.

Starting Tomorrow

A new weekly practice log begins tomorrow. Rather than update existing posts (as I've been doing), I'm going to make each "practice report" a separate post. That way you won't have to scroll halfway down the blog everytime you want to see if it's been updated.

I'm new to this kind of a blog, plus I'm a writer, so I'm still trying to figure out the best way to present the information that I share here. Bear with me! And please, let me know if you have any suggestions!

Several people have already commented here, and I've received a few very nice e-mails regarding this blog. Thank you so much! Your feedback means a lot to me ... and I love the idea of "meeting" other amateur classical pianists. I believe in responding to comments on my blogs, and I'll do that a little later today, when I have more time.

Thanks for visiting!

The Big Recital

You may have noticed that I have a countdown to my "big recital" in my sidebar.

I've never had my own piano recital. I played in student recitals, from about 1977 until 1991, but I've never done my own thing. I was supposed to have a recital in 1992, my senior year of college, but I lost my mind that year and didn't find it in time for the recital. I had planned to play some Debussy, Dett, a Beethoven sonata (Op. 10, No. 1 in C minor), Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu, two Schubert impromptus, a Rachmaninoff prelude, and theKhatchaturian Toccata.

So much for that.

As many of you may already know, I didn't play piano much after 1992 (graduation from college) until a couple of years ago when I moved to the Asheville area. I started taking lessons again, decided I wanted to take piano seriously again, and ... got the idea for a recital.

I'm thinking of it as a music school audition. No, I'm not planning to go to music school. But I'm looking at the types of things music schools require for their auditions, and using those guidelines as I decide what I'll play for my recital.

I'm planning for October 27, by the way. In 2007.

Here's what I'm planning to play (so far):

Something Baroque: Bach, Prelude & Fugue in C# Major

Something Classical: Either a Haydn or Mozart sonata, or an early Beethoven. I think I would prefer an early Beethoven, since Ludwig is my short, misanthropic, deaf soulmate and all.

A Bunch of Romantic Stuff: I'm thinking a couple of Liszt transcriptions, since I'm already working on "Standchen" and it is gorgeous. Also, I'm supposed to be starting Chopin's Ballade No. 3 in A-flat major this fall. If I do a Haydn or Mozart for the classical piece, I'll see about doing a shorter piece by Beethoven, probably a Bagatelle.

Something showy and flashy and modern: No idea what I'll do there. Thinking about Bartok since I like him and all. I think that will be enough for a recital. If it's not, I'll see what else I can do. I certainly don't want to overdo it, though!

Anyway, mark your calendars for October 27, 2007. That date is not set in stone, but I do love the number 27, so it'll be the 27th of some month in late 2007!

Friday, June 16, 2006


I'm not planning to have much of a blogroll here, since I primarily go through Bloglines from my other blog. I have, however, added a few blogs to the sidebar that I think are particularly relevant for the type of person who would be interested in this blog--i.e., amateur musicians.

If you know of other "practice blogs" or have one that you'd like to see included here (hey, it might just move you up in the TTLB ecosystem!), let me know, and I'll be happy to add it here.

Enough fiddling with the template. Time to go practice!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Week of June 11

This log will be updated daily, whether I'm able to practice or not. If you want to access the week's practice log quickly, simply click the link beneath the piano icon in the sidebar. Last week's completed log can be found here.

Practice Goals for the Week

1) Scales at 76 and arpeggios at 60
2) Suzuki Minuet 4 (by ear)
3) Play through Bach Prelude once a day
4) Learn Fugue hands-separately
5) Work on tone and voicing for Sections 12 and 13 of Liszt; begin learning Section 9

Sunday, June 11: Spent 70 minutes on scales, arps, Suzuki, the Prelude, and the Fugue. Scales and arps are sounding really good. When I write "scales and arps," I mean scales and arpeggios in similar and contrary motion, at increasing speeds. Also included are full-octave inversions for each. Today's scales were B major and G# minor, and today's arpeggios were Gb major and Eb minor. For Suzuki, I played through Minuet 3 and "learned" the right-hand notes of Minuet 4 by ear, which took about two minutes.

I can play through the prelude pretty well. It's very basic and just kind of falls into the hands. There are a few sticky sections that I'll need to spend more time on before my lesson Wednesday.

The hands-separate practice for the fugue is turning out to be easier than expected. The hardest part is synchronizing the rests in one voice with the held notes in another voice. I'm doing a lot of listening to separate voices, then playing two voices together, then listening to individual voices again, then voices together, etc. It would be easy enough to play the voices together without thinking of them as separate voices, I suppose, but that would defeat the purpose of learning the fugue. It's a mind exercise as much as it is a finger exercise, and I am loving every second of it. (That sublime mind-finger exercise thing, by the way, is Reason #214 to adore and admire Bach.)

Spent about 80 minutes on the Liszt (plus a couple more scales and arps to warm up). I'm only focusing on measures 91 through 115 (the last section of the piece, starting with the con agitazione measure). The big challenge for me has been the timing. I learned how to do 2-against-3 when I learned Liszt's "Consolation No. 3" in high school, but the 2-against-3 in "Ständchen"--with the changes from measure to measure, plus the ornaments, plus the voicing challenges--has been a real bear (with 2-against-3, one hand is playing a "1-2, 1-2" beat while the other plays a "1-2-3, 1-2-3" waltz-like beat). I must have played measures 99 and 101 a hundred times today--without the ornaments, with the ornaments, with the metronome, with a special focus on voicing, all together now, etc. And always slow, slow, slow. Imagine the runners in slow-motion in the movie Chariots of Fire. That's how "Ständchen" feels. I'm playing it with all the emotional power I can muster in the dynamics, but at half the speed at which it should be played. Very challenging, and the temptation to play it faster is nearly irresistible.

But resist I must. For now, and for my next few practices, I'll continue to play at a snail's pace.

Monday, June 12: Practiced for about 70 minutes this afternoon. I did the usual scales, arps, and Suzuki as a warm up (more to warm up my mind than to warm up my fingers), then moved on to the fugue.

Whew. I worked on the fugue itself for about an hour, hands-separately. I really want to learn this, and I don't want to cut corners. So I'm approaching it in several different ways. First, I went straight to the "red stars" I'd written in the other night when playing through to see which sections would be the most challenging. The toughest-seeming one is early in the piece--measures 6-11. So I began the drill: play one voice, then the other. Play them together, listening. Back up. Shut the piano. Play one voice on the piano lid, focusing on the fingering. Play it again on the lid, "listening" and imagining the keys. Do the same with the other voice. Do the same with both voices. Over and over again. Focus. Keep "playing" until it feels natural, both in my fingers and in my mind.

This "away-from-the-keys" practice taxes the brain, but when I finally open the lid and play on the keys again ... voila! It's there, and it sounds just as smooth as can be! Once I'm playing on the keys again, I run through those same measures 10 or 15 times each--or 20 or 30 or more, as needed. I focused really hard on measures 1-6 and measures 10 and 11 today. The plan was to do all eleven measures, but I'm not used to such brain-taxing, intensive work, and I had to stop because I was mentally tired.

So, I covered eight measures today. Sigh. The fugue consists of 55 measures. Actually, I'm looking forward to the work. As with my physical workouts, I'm sure that more of these types of practices will simply improve my mental endurance in the long run--as well as make me a better pianist!

I worked on Liszt for about 10 minutes tonight. I was too tired to have a decent practice, so I just played through measures 91 to the end a few times, very slowly, to make sure yesterday's awesome practice sank in. I found that, while I missed a few notes here an there, I have a much better sense of the timing--the left-hand "beat," if you will--and was able to keep it steady throughout the ornaments, 2-against-3 measures, etc. So that's good.

Tuesday, June 13: On the road all day. No practice. :(

Wednesday, June 14 (Lesson Day): About 30 minutes on scales, arps, Suzuki, and Liszt (about 15 minutes was spent on Liszt). Mostly just warming up for my piano lesson in the afternoon. Didn't have time for Bach. This evening, I practiced for about 80 minutes. Did the usual scales and arps as warm up, then got to work in earnest on the Bach. Very intense, focused practicing of hands separately. I've had to do a lot of fiddling with the fingering because the editor's fingerings assume that my hands are bigger than they are. It's also been a challenge to play with the notes detached rather than legato. I'd been practicing legato until today, when Deborah said to make them detached. Sigh.

Practicing the fugue literally exhausts me. When I finished it, I sluggishly moved on to the Liszt and decided only to work on the last couple of measures. They're not hard, but they did need a bit of attention, so I focused on them. Tomorrow in the Liszt, I start on Section 9 (the part with the arpeggios in thirds). Once I've gotten that section down, the rest of the piece will be easy in comparison. I'm glad I'm getting the most difficult sections down first.

Thursday, June 15: Worked on scales and arps for about 15 minutes. Then, worked on the Bach Prelude for about 45 minutes, Section 1 (measures 1-15). It's not a hard piece, but I'm treating it as if it is; otherwise, I won't take it seriously enough and will end up not knowing it as well as I should. Does that make sense? :)

I worked on the fugue for about 40 minutes, cementing Section 1 (measures 1-15) hands-separately. It's hard work, using the new fingering, using the correct articulation, etc. I'm playing it very s-l-o-w-l-y right now and am not speeding up, even though I secretly want to. (Heck, I secretly want to play it perfectly at speed, TODAY, but that's not gonna happen!

I took a break, then got to work on Liszt. I spend about 30 minutes of intense focus on the "flutter" sections in Section 12 (where the echoes come in with the grace notes), working to make them perfect mirrors of each other. It was a particular challenge today because yesterday at piano we decided I needed a new fingering. That always makes it hard, when you've been using a different fingering for a week.

After working on those small sections, I played through Sections 12-15 a few times (about 15 minutes), focusing this time on the Gestalt of it, from the agitated, energetic start to the sublime ending.

Next, I moved to Section 9 and worked on the arpeggios in thirds for about 15 minutes. It's weird because you basically are playing 9-against-4. I think I'm just going to have to spend a few hours drilling those arpeggios until playing them is as natural as breathing. Then I'll add the left hand.

Friday, June 16: Practice for about 90 minutes on scales, arps, and Bach. I've moved up to 76 on the metronome for scales and seem to be having a bit of trouble with contrary motion in the minor scales. Arps were a little sloppy, for some reason. Maybe I'm just tired tonight.

I worked on the C# major Prelude for just a few minutes, reviewing and cementing measures 1-15. I don't want to spend too much time on the prelude, but I do want to review a little bit each day, just to keep it fresh in my psyche.

The C# major Fugue was the major area of focus tonight. I'm still working hands-separately, of course. I reviewed and cemented Section 1 (measures 1-15), and it's sounding pretty good--very clean, in fact. Just ignore for now that I'm playing at about 30% of the recommended tempo. I think I'm gaining a much more acute awareness of--and a much greater appreciation for--the "clean" sound of Bach. It's a special touch, to try to render on the piano something clavier-like: sparse, not too rich in tone, etc., but still musical. I used to dislike Bach because of that very sound ... and now I seem to have gone in the opposite direction. I find that sound very calming and sublime now. The held notes add so much to the other notes beneath, and the rests are so perfectly placed ... if I accidentally hold a note when I shouldn't, it's as if the harmony of the universe is interrupted, and a harsh, discordant clang sounds upon my delicate ear.

OK, so maybe that's a bit overdramatic. But the greater awareness I'm gaining seems to be allowing for less and less "wiggle room"--i.e., sloppiness--when I play these small sections of the fugue. I actually cringe a little when the sloppiness creeps in.

That's as it should be, I think.

Spent only about 20 minutes on Liszt. Worked out a good (?) fingering for measures 62 and 66 (the arpeggios in thirds). Didn't worry too much about the 9-against-4 timing ... I'll start on that tomorrow. Measures 62 and 66 gave me plenty of work for the 20 minutes that I had!

Saturday, June 17: I hadn't planned to practice until tonight (crazy party girl that I am!), but I slipped into the Inner Sanctum for what was supposed to be less than a minute and ended up spending 90 minutes on Liszt.

This will probably sound really pathetic, but I spent a huge chunk of those 90 minutes on measures 62 and 66 (the 9-against-4 arpeggios in thirds). I couldn't wrap my brain around the rhythms and I didn't want to just fake it. So I drew pictures, colored stuff in, and even made a cool table in Word to get an idea of where the notes should fall, rhythmically.

This, my friends, is an example of what happens when a perfectionistic right-brained person sets her mind on figuring out an unfamiliar mix of rhythms:

This is the "score" I read while practicing the arpeggios. That's OK if you think I'm a nut for going to such extremes. But I can tell you one thing: My 9-against-4 rhythms are sounding really good! Once they're really cemented in my mind (after I play them a million more times), I'll feel like I've earned the right to rubato-ize (rubatize?) them a little bit.

I also worked on Section 10, which is the first half of the first "echo" section following the arpeggiated-thirds section. It's not too difficult, though the grace notes and voicings are, again, throwing off what I thought was my relatively good ability to play in 2-against-3. I'm sure I will adjust--all of this is just so new to me.

I feel good about my progress, though. The sections I'm working on sound good, in a just-learning kind of way. And that's all I'm asking for at this point. :)

This evening, I spent 90 minutes practicing. About 15 minutes went to scales and arps, and about 20 minutes went to Sections 1 and 2 of the Bach Prelude. The rest of the time went to Sections 3 and 4 of the Fugue. It was a very uneventful practice; Sections 1 and 2 are getting more comfortable in the hands, and Sections 3 and 4 have several tacets and are slightly less difficult. Maybe (gasp!) I am also getting the hang of this fugue thing.

I played the Liszt for about 10 minutes before closing up the piano for the night. I noticed the double-dotted quarter notes in Section 9 ... huh? Followed by a 3-against-2 with the first note of the triplet starting halfway through an eighth note in the left hand? Ugh ... this means ... MATH. Blech. As if figuring out the 9-against-4 wasn't confusing enough. I worked with it a little bit, but not a lot. Bach fugue AND Liszt math can be dangerous when ingested in a single 24-hour period.

TOTAL PRACTICE TIME FOR WEEK: It's been a record week, folks. I practiced for more than 13 hours total, for a daily average of just under two hours.

Week of June 4

It's time to revive my practice-logging system. I'll be logging my practice hours, as well as my own comments, observations, and reflections about practice sessions, here. If you want to share your own practice notes or read mine, feel free. If you don't, then you can simply ignore any post that begins with the piano image at the top.

If you want to access the week's practice log quickly, simply click the link beneath the piano icon in the sidebar.

So let's get started!

Sunday, June 4: Approximately 90 minutes of practice. I warmed up with the usual contrary-motion scales; today was E major and C# minor. Then I did arpeggios (Ab major and F minor). For Suzuki, I'm working on a Bach Minuet in G that I first learned when I was about eight. I have the whole thing by ear, so Deborah now has me focusing very intently on articulation. I'm also supposed to be listening to the next Suzuki piece so I can learn it by ear, but I haven't been listening. Bad, bad piano student. I just really don't like doing the Suzuki stuff.

Most of my practice time today was spent on the Bach Fugue in C# Major. My practice times have been so spotty in the last few months that it seems I'm going to have to relearn what I thought I'd learned earlier. I can play each voice on its own, hands separately, all the way through ... or I could. When I tried the voices today, my fingers were tripping all over themselves and I had to trudge through it super slowly in order to play it.

I ended up having to drill small sections, hands separately for most of my practice. I got through the first page and a half. I'll do the next page and a half tomorrow, and the rest of the piece on Tuesday. That way, I should be somewhat ready for Wednesday's lesson, when I'll (hopefully) start ... tah-dah! ... putting the voices together.

I worked on the Liszt a little bit, but it's late and I was starting to get tired. Rather than practice badly because of low concentration, I simply played through the two sections I worked on last night, very slowly, a few times. And that was it.

Since it's late and I'm too tired to practice Liszt, I guess I'll go to sleep!

Monday, June 5: Snatched 45 luxurious minutes to do scales, arps, a Suzuki run-through, and a bit of Bach. Practiced the bass voice of the fugue through the Episode II. Yes, I'm having to re-learn it--knowing that learning it all hands-together will be yet another re-learning. But, as they say at McDonalds, "I'm lovin' it." Or, as Bach might say, "ich liebe es."

I'm hoping to practice a few more hours tonight after I get home from graduation.

Tuesday, June 6: Took about 70 minutes this afternoon to do scales, arps, Suzuki, and Liszt. I now have the last page and a half of the Liszt sounding pretty good. Did quite a bit of drilling of the last half-page. It's actually one of the easiest sections of the piece, but those easy sections can be deceiving, so I made sure to drill it as much as I would drill a harder section.

I didn't get around to Bach. Hopefully I will tonight.

Wednesday, June 7: Didn't really practice today because I had a lesson. Because I'll be hiking for a few days, Deborah gave me small assignments: Start learning the Bach Fugue hands-separately, play through the Prelude once, and work on voicing in Section 12 of the Liszt.

Saturday, June 10: Worked for about 60 minutes on scales, arps, Suzuki, and the Prelude and Fugue. Played through the Prelude twice (it's not hard at all), and started working on the Fugue hands-separately. I'd thought it would be a difficult step from voices-separately, but it wasn't so bad.

TOTAL PRACTICE TIME FOR WEEK OF JUNE 4: 4 hours., 41 minutes