Wednesday, June 21, 2006

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!

1 comment:

robert said...

Is great to have a great lesson, Waterfall. Walk tall! I've always felt it kinda mkes up for those lessons when I wondered why my playing didn't make my teacher say "Er, Robert, I think I should send you to my brother, Raul the Pastry Chef." Actually, she never would say that (and doesn't have a brother doing that)...she's always supportive, helpful...and gets me out of my self-imposed funks.

It's true about playing with the body. One of my great revelations over the last year. You play with everything, some things more than others (Brahms, Rachmaninoff come to mind). Once I started using my body, the arps got...a lot more accurate. Of course, speaking of Rachmaninoff, all the reports were that he never moved when he played. Did it all from the shoulders. But if you're 6'4"...Igor Stravinsky once remarked that R. was "a six and a half-foot scowl". Is all in the motions and the gestures.

So true about "If you want to play a piece." I've toyed with trying it. OTOH, my teacher is very good about giving me bigger things...and would give me bigger if I was willing to spend a year on them.

Sympathies on the Sandman dropping you from his route. Has happened to me more than once around lesson time. Oddly, I've always played exceptionally well then. But I'd prefer to have the zzzs and play...reasonably.