Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Lesson Report

During practice sessions, certain questions arise regarding fingering, dynamics, etc. Sometimes I write them down on a scrap of paper. Usually I bring them up at a lesson if I remember them. But I've started to write them down in the notebook where Deborah writes all of her notes at my lesson. I used to feel like this notebook was something almost sacred, something I didn't want to sully with my dumb questions, but that's changing. I'm feeling more and more like Deborah and I are a team, rather than Wise Teacher on the Holy Mountain and Lowly, Groveling, Ignorant Student.

Anyway, I write the questions on the page she'll be writing on at the next lesson so she can't miss them and I can't forget to ask them. That's how the lesson started today. Only one question was "Liszt: IT Dynamics?" And I couldn't remember, for the life of me, what "IT" was supposed to mean.

On to my lesson report!

Inversions sounded fine. I fell apart, however, on scales and arps (F/d scales and E/c# arps). I mean, I really fell apart. The piano sounded like an old-fashioned computer, making all kinds of blips and beeps and sounding nothing like the smooth scales and arps I play at home. I actually laughed at myself. I'm not used to making such, er, interesting, sounds on a piano.

It's all psychological. I know it's all psychological. My hands know what to do. They've done these scales and arps a million times. But something in me subtly starts thinking, "OK, it's going too well. Hope you don't mess up at the bottom of the scale in the LH ..." And, like clockwork, my LH turns into a mess of confused fingers.

I have some ideas about why I'm doing this, but I'm not sure how to articulate them. So I'll just think on them and write about them in a later post.

Beethoven (Suzuki) sounded fine. The pianist on the Suzuki CD plays the grace notes different from how Deborah wants me to play them (as melodic apoggiaturas). I keep forgetting and go back to playing the way the CD does because that's what I learned the piece from. And her only real comments were to make sure I play the grace notes/appoggiaturas the new way. She asked if I would play just the Beethoven for the next group class, for the benefit of one of her students. I said "OK." Even though I'll be chomping at the bit by then (the next group class is in late January) to play Liszt and Bach for everyone again.

I played through the Liszt. It took me a few measures to ease into it, and the result was that I played, oh, about three different tempi in the first four measures. Silly me. I was laughing at myself again. I really need to imagine the melody before I dive into playing the introduction, so I know from the start what my tempo is. I normally do this ... I think I was just anxious to get started.

She had lots of nice things to say about the Liszt, though the quasi Violoncello is still the weak link in the chain. My ending also needed a little bit of work. And the big advice for the whole piece was, "Move the line forward." I think that relates again to architecture. I'm pausing too much to savor the beauty of each room, forgetting that they're all part of the same house.

I played the Prelude through, but I started too fast. The result was a not-so-great play-through. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. Her big comment was that I'm not using my musical sensibilities to play it. I'm not totally there yet, I know. I'm closer than I've ever been, but I still have a ways to go. I'm not shaping it enough. It's a tricky piece to shape, with the "leader" moving from LH to RH. The piece kind of reminds me of someone playing with the treble/bass on a car radio, making the bass prominent, then turning the bass almost off to make the treble prominent. Very cool effect, and one I'm still working on.

Fugue: No time. We'll begin the next lesson with it.

A good lesson, overall.

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