Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I Need Two Practice Sessions a Day

Wouldn't that be nice? Wouldn't it be nice if I had a million dollars, too? :)

I practiced for 120 minutes tonight. The time flew by. I started at 8:00, took a break from the Liszt at what I thought was 9:00, and realized that it was already 10:00. You know what they say about when you're having fun ...

Actually, it was a frustrating but ultimately productive practice. Scales and arps sound great. OK, the scales sound great and the arps sound pretty darn good but not great. I need to spend more time doing them in rhythms and focusing on what I'm doing. At a certain speed, it just seems like my fingers are landing where they may, and if I hit the right note it's because I'm lucky. I usually hit the right notes, but I don't feel confident about them. Hm.

Then it was on to the Liszt. Yes, friends, I resisted fugal temptation. I didn't even look at my WTC 1 book. I went straight to Ständchen. Tonight's focus was measures 5 through 26, and more specifically, measures 5 through 16.

Do you remember that scene in Amadeus when the kapellmeister rips out several pages of The Marriage of Figaro while Mozart stands helplessly by, looking shocked? Well, that's how I felt tonight. I erased and re-wrote so much of my previous work; my hands were the businesslike kapellmeister, my mind the hapless Wolfie.

I had to change the fingering again. And again. And again. Every time I found a better fingering, one that didn't stretch my left hand into weird positions, I would play it ... and discover an even better fingering. I'm working really hard to keep my hand soft and to arrange the fingering in a way that allows me to do that. I do not want to induce tingling!

I erased, and erased, and erased, and erased. I wore out my eraser. Really. I had to use a new pencil when it the eraser started to make that bone-chilling squeak of metal rubbing against paper. Yikes!

I re-wrote so much fingering that the paper now feels thin enough to tear. It didn't tear. I hope I won't have to change the fingering anymore. But if I do ... so be it. But I think I've come up with the best fingering for me for measures 5 through 16. I'll focus more on measures 17 through 26 the next time I practice Ständchen. If I had two practice sessions a day, that would be tomorrow, but a more realistic prediction is Thursday night or possibly even Friday. :(

Once I finally figured out the frustrating fingering, I practiced measures 5 through 10 and ended up playing that section ten times each. Then I did the same thing with measures 11 through 16. The good thing about all this repetition is that it helps me to memorize.

After practicing each mini-section, I played measures 1 through 16 through about fifteen more times. The notes were feeling very comfortable in my hands (all that fingering-frustration had a purpose after all!), and I was actually able to focus on dynamics, on making the melody sing out above all the other "stuff" that's going on. That was deeply satisfying. I really felt like I was making music.

I played through measures 17 through 26 once before my 10:00 "break." I forsee a few more fingering changes, but I think I did the brunt of necessary erasing and re-writing tonight. Oh, yeah ... I got so sick of erasing little numbers that I eventually erased my penciled-in scribblings for entire measures, inadvertently erasing my musical analysis notes. Pooh.

I'm too tired now to work on the fugue. I'll get to it tomorrow night. If I have time, I'll work on the prelude, too. It needs more attention than I've been giving it.

All in all, it was a good practice. It had its unpleasant moments, but I finished it up playing the first sixteen measures at level I'm happy with for now.

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