Thursday, August 5, 2010

What I'm playing this week

On the piano:

Bach, WTC I/19 in A major: Still struggling along with this one, especially the fugue. I know I'm practicing it too fast and in chunks that are too long. I'm also straining something in my hands, which is really not good. The solution is obviously to SLOW DOWN, pay attention to what my hands are doing (am I using good fingering so that I'm not stretching unnecessarily? is everything relaxed?), break down into smaller sections, and SLOW DOWN.

Brahms Op. 118:
No. 3, Ballade: I'm making good progress on this. I have all of it memorized and am working on getting it faster and cleaner.
Nos. 4-6: I'm dipping a bit into each of these. They seem so much less difficult than they did even six months ago (though of course not easy).

Beethoven, Op. 2 No. 3: This is another piece for which it would behoove me to SLOW DOWN and practice in smaller sections. But it is not nearly as difficult as the Bach or the Brahms pieces I'm working on.

The past couple of weeks I've been making a conscious effort to simply increase my practice time whenever possible, and it definitely helps. I'm still considering pursuing the school thing, but before I do, I want to see if I can actually practice at least three hours a day more than every once in a while. So far, I have not been able to do so, which makes me wonder if I'm really up to this.

Yes, quality time is important in practicing, but amount of time is also important, especially if you are learning new skills. Experienced musicians who are just maintaining do not need to practice that much, but even they, faced with learning new music, need to increase the hours they spend.

On the cello:

The cello has been getting an extended rest this summer. I finally dusted it off this week and creakily played through a few things. It wasn't too terrible, and it actually felt good physically: playing the cello seemed to smooth out some of the strain I was feeling in my hands from the three Bs I've been struggling with on the piano.

A few things on the horizon for the cello:

A reunion concert with the DC Youth Orchestra. This year is the 50th anniversary of the program, and they contacted a lot of the former members about playing in this. It will be at the Kennedy Center in the Concert Hall on August 21. I agreed to do it, and the concert itself is fine with me (in fact, I'm looking forward to playing -- there are many excellent musicians who will be participating), but getting to and from the Kennedy Center with my cello is going to be a pain.

The first TCO concert is in September this year! It seems so early. They decided to redo the schedule to avoid having a concert in January when the weather is usually the worst we have here. So concerts will be in September, November, April, and June. I have no solos this year, though, so not much pressure.

A jaunt to Maine this fall with the ladies from my neighborhood band, to visit a friend who used to play accordion in the big folk group that we have all played in. He took early retirement and moved up there about ten years ago, and one of our group who has known him for a long time has been wanting to go up and visit him and play music with him. This is all fine, though again, there is the problem of what to do about a cello. I'm not buying a seat for mine on the plane for such a short trip; there's always a question of whether they will even let it on board (which, no matter the formal policy, is left to the discretion of the person guarding the boarding gate, who has the authority to summarily banish a cello to the baggage compartment). Driving up there is not an option. So I'm looking into others(portable electric cello? rent a cello there? find one to borrow?).

Anyway, that's what's been happening. Somehow the summer is flying by. But I am making some music every day.

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