Monday, June 27, 2011

Slow blog

I've been silent for a few weeks because I haven't been able to clarify my thoughts enough to write anything coherent. That really hasn't changed, but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway.

The net effect of my four months of piano lessons seems to have been somewhat negative. I feel discouraged. There is so much I need to learn if I ever want to play the piano anywhere near the way I imagine I could, and I don't know how I'm going to learn it. This teacher gave me little splatters of things, but not in a very usable form. I felt very talked-down-to, as if it was an accepted fact that it is too late for someone my age to do what I want to do. Now that my appetite for being taught has been whetted, I am beginning to doubt that I will ever find the right teacher.

I have continued to practice every day, but some days it's hard to make myself do it. I've been plugging away at another Bach prelude and fugue (WTC I/18 in G sharp minor) but without much enthusiasm. I started working on Schumann's "Papillons," which is fun. We had the sheet music kicking around since I was a child, so my sister who took lessons must have worked on it, though I can't imagine how -- another stellar choice by my first piano teacher. I may have mentioned that she would pick these outrageously difficult pieces for me -- and apparently for my sister as well -- that we could in no way play, but worked on for years on end without any understanding or mastery. Anyway, I remember trying to sightread through "Papillons" many a time, but it was as clear as mud. Now I feel I understand what to do and how to do it. We'll see.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Still thinking (and what I'm working on)

So, one decision made: no lessons this summer. I haven't come up with a plan yet for the fall and beyond. I briefly considered attending the Golandsky Institute summer program (it's a week long, in July), but it interfered with some vacation plans, and for the money, I think I would get more out of another semester of lessons. I'm still not sure if I will continue with this teacher. Some good things, some bad things, so not clear to me the best course of action.

For now, I am working on a new Bach prelude and fugue set. I'm not sure why I chose this one (WTC I/18 in g sharp minor), actually, except that it's short, and the key is challenging. I've been trying to alternate between major and minor and to vary the technical challenges.

I also want to try to record the Chopin nocturne and waltz I learned at the behest of my teacher. I believe she chose these so she could work with me on tone, producing a singing line, and voicing, and we did spend some time on them, but I'm not feeling like they are sounding all that great. I find myself thinking, "Just add some vibrato!" Um, no, not on this instrument!

Speaking of the cello, our orchestra played its last concert of the season on Sunday. It was kind of a meh program, but, oh well. However, I was talking with the conductor afterward, and he said next season I can play another concerto if I want, and I can choose whatever I would like. Such an opportunity! Dare I program the Dvorak? It is actually not so technically difficult as some others; there's a lot more room for error than in Haydn or Boccherini, for example. But it's long. Also, even though it is undoubtedly a wonderful piece, it is so, so, so overplayed that I can hardly stand to listen to it, let along practice it for a year. Whichever piece I choose (if I decide to do this), I will have to spend a lot of practice time on it for many months which is daunting. OTOH, I do think I'd like to take advantage of this and play something.

So next stop is the music store to order some cello concertos to peruse.