A blog about learning to play the piano...

I always said that if I ever had a piano, I would take lessons. So here we go...

Lesson 56: Isn’t it nice to know a lot?

I had a pretty good lesson this week. I was worried because I didn’t get quite as much time at the piano as I usually do, but it seems I made hay while the sun shone. And I like the new lesson schedule.

"Tendre Fleur" is coming along… it has just a few glitches that need ironing out, and thedynamics need to be worked on, but it’s coming. I would wager that I should be finished with it before October.

"Footprints in the Snow" on the other hand is proving to be quite a bear. There’s just… so much going on. My teacher advised me to go through and find all the moving lines and think about how I want them and their accompaniment to sound. That way I won’t sound like I’m doing data entry, which is how it sounds now. But it’s just so dense. I’m making progress though, and that’s what matters.

Sorry there’s not more to report. Just more of the same, but the “same” lately has been steady progress so I can’t really complain. Thanks for following, and I’ll see you next week!

catcmack:

I sang “eat the sick”…

catcmack:

I sang “eat the sick”…

Collected Observations #10

A lot of the piano pieces I’ve been assigned have pertained largely to coordination issues. I’ve found that especially when I’m going fast, or am trying to increase your tempo, making sure accents are in the right place is crucial. Often, my teacher would encourage me to not emphasize what looks like the beginning of units, but instead to find where the phrase or rhythm needs emphasis for it to be musical. It’s helping! And I’ve started to catch the mistake myself and correct it rather than needing to be told! I think my tendency to emphasize downbeats or beginnings of fast patterns is a hold over from my clarineting, since sometimes in ensemble playing we will lightly stress the beginnings of groups of notes in order to stay together.

I always think I’m going to backslide more than I actually do whenever I spend a lot of time away from the piano because of vacation or something. It’s never as bad as I think it’s going to be (Though to be fair, I usually think I’m going to forget which side of the keyboard to sit at). Sometimes, I come back and a passage that’s been tripping me up is suddenly fixed. The brain is weird. 

Scales on piano serve a very different purpose than on clarinet. On clarinet, scales enable you to read some passages more efficiently in addition to being more dexterous. But on piano… it seems the effect is more general. Now that I’ve spent a several months seriously working on my scales, I’m finding that I’m more comfortable doing crosses and intricate fingering patterns than I was before.They aren’t even necessarily scales or anything that resembles the patterns in my scales… I’m just more comfortable reading and executing them. Woo!

Teacher’s contempt for the composer Franz Burgmüller, whose “Arabesque” I just finished working on, is hysterical. Literally every style correction he gives, my teacher says, “Okay… so this Franz Burgmüller guy is a pretty bad composer, so we have to help him out.” His bluntness makes me warm inside.

The artist tries to see what there is to be interested in… He has not created something, he has seen something.

—T. E. Hulme, Speculations (via an-art-gallery)

(via sonateharder)

Do you ever wonder why we’re here?

Sometimes I wonder if there is a point to writing this blog. I mean… I’m one of a zillion music students out there gabbing on about practice and music and I-don’t-wanna ect.

Then something will happen to make me remember why I’m different…

Because my teacher will sit down and sightread half an hour of Haydn sonatas while I watch, pausing occasionally to talk to me about composition, period ornamentation practices, or how a certain passage can be practiced to clean it up. And I’m all like, “I get what you’re talking about! That’s an Alberti bass line! I saw that in the Beethoven I did several months ago! And yes! Playing runs in Eb sucks. E major is much easier! I know ‘cause I can play it! And look at you phrasing that passage with your wrist just like you’re always telling me to do! :DDD”

And then we will go outside on the porch, and drink coffee and talk until 2am about how Haydn fits into the grand scheme of things in terms of the progress of music history. And then somehow we will wind up talking about Nadia Boulanger, and different teaching methods for composition. And the current state of the programming practices of small regional orchestras like ours.

That is why I’m different. My teacher doesn’t exist for me only in a studio at a school. He lives in the same professional and personal world that I inhabit. And I’m certainly not knocking the standard model, but I don’t think I could learn something as personal and as difficult as music from a technician that I see in a box once a week. I am grateful that I have the chance to learn from him, not just in lessons, but also when we are working together, or when he is performing, or just when we are being nerdy bums on a Friday night.

mahleriana:

Thank you #MitchellLurie for putting this into words #classicalmusic #clarinet

mahleriana:

Thank you #MitchellLurie for putting this into words #classicalmusic #clarinet

Fierce predators. Rawr…
There’s a baby mockingbird and its mom hopping around on our porch, and they’re going nuts. If one of them takes a header into the glass I’m going to die laughing.

Fierce predators. Rawr…

There’s a baby mockingbird and its mom hopping around on our porch, and they’re going nuts. If one of them takes a header into the glass I’m going to die laughing.

Lesson 55 3/4: Ten points to Slytherin because kitty!

So, I think my teacher and I have finally figured out a good lesson schedule. Sundays are going to be voice lessons, and Wednesdays are going to be piano. At least until October, when my teacher is playing for the university’s performances of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and I’m busy stage managing the Huntsville Ballet’s Firebird. Screw getting candy on Halloween. We’re both going to want hard liquor.

Anyway… I had a sort of mini-lesson today as we shift to the new schedule. I made a pretty good showing, considering I had only a couple of days to practice. I’m done with the “Arabesque” so now I’m just focusing on “Tendre Fleur” and the Debussy prelude. The former just needs more elbow grease. The latter needs like… some form of Google Maps and an abacus. I’ll get there…

My teacher is house-sitting for a mutual friend, and she has an upright piano, so lessons were at her house. And her daughter’s cat, Pandora, very much wanted to encourage me as I played. Or maybe she just wanted pets.