A momentous occasionPosted: May 26, 2012
The other day Danielle interjected in every conversation we had with anyone: “Oh, did we tell you? Today was a momentous occasion! It’s what we’ve been working on for the past year!”
I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I suppose it’s some sort of minor landmark: I finally played with piano. So there it is. We ran through the whole thing like it’s supposed to be played (sort of – but I’m not going to play it in front of an orchestra. I make it hard enough for a piano to keep pace with me). Who is the pianist? Do you remember Danielle’s student Anna who gave me a lesson last summer? Well, she started her musical life as a two instrument person and transitioned to violin before she started studying with Danielle.
So Anna, Danielle and I got together one afternoon and ran through it. The good news is that I actually got through it. It wasn’t good or polished, or, well, good in any sense of the word, but I did limp through. Danielle worked with me on a few places, I settled down, and then we played it again. Good news and bad news: I played great! (that’s the good news). I felt good, smooth, and in tempo. I had a nasty habit of rushing the first time around (not to take credit away from Anna, but she was essentially site reading the piano part and couldn’t play it as fast as I had been rehearsing. I should be able to keep whatever pace, but I never claimed to be an extremely sophisticated musician!). Everything had been going great, except something happened that had happened several times before: I say to myself while playing, “man, this is going great! I can’t believe I’m playing like this…uh oh…” Then I had a horrible memory slip and couldn’t pick up where I was. I sort of should of kept playing, but I was really lost and stopped. I know, I know, I should never stop, but I couldn’t help it.
After the stop, I had to go because we started to eat into Anna’s lesson time (that’s why I stopped, just being considerate heh, heh). We did devise a little strategy for Anna when I get lost like that in the future: she will stop playing her part and start playing mine. This is actually a technique they use on little kids who get lost during their performances. Hopefully it will work if it actually happens. When I get lost though, I get lo-o-o-ost.
Here, of course, is where being able to visualize what’s going on comes in handy. Danielle has stressed being able to visualize every part of the piece, what it sounds like, where your fingers go, what note is being played, etc. It’s really hard. When you get into the rhythm, especially on a piece you’ve played through many times before, it just sort of happens. It’s natural. That natural-ness is great, except if you get lost, then it’s all over. It’s like a golfer. “Feeling” your swing is important, but when something starts to go wrong it’s really important to “understand” your swing so you can fix it. Right now, I for the most part feel the piece, but I really need to start to understand it.
Enough ado. Here’s where we actually got all the way through the piece. You’ll hear Danielle instructing the whole time because I rush, rush, rush:
It’s funny how obvious it is when I haven’t worked with the metronome in several days. It’s gotten to the point that I actually like playing with it. It makes me feel in control, like my playing is honed and tight.