Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This wasn't supposed to be quite this hard

Last August, I decided to learn Debussy's First and Second Arabesques. The First Arabesque is a favorite for the developing student; you can go on YouTube and watch eleventy-million videos by pianists of all ages and stages. The Second Arabesque is less well known and more difficult, though still a foundational sort of piece.

I basically thought, "How hard could this be?"

The answer, as always: "Much harder than you think." Getting every note crystal clear, with the right mood and rhythm and articulation, turned out to be a finicky sort of exercise. It reminded me of my first piano teacher talking about learning "The Little Shepherd" (from Children's Corner) when she was in college: She said it took her two months to play this two-page, slow piece to her teacher's satisfaction. "I could smell those stinkin' sheep" was how she put it.

So I have worked on these pieces steadily for the past four months, and I am still working on them. Barging through them is actually not so difficult, but when I listen to the playbacks of my attempts, if I'm being honest with myself, they leave much to be desired.

I thought, though, that I would post a progress version of the First Arabesque. The Second Arabesque is not even ready for late night, let alone prime time.

First Arabesque, in progress


Bill said...

I always enjoy listening to you play. Your recording sounds very clear and your piano has a very nice tone. You have probably mentioned this before but what brand of piano do you have and what are you using to make your recordings?

Harriet said...

Bill, thanks for listening. My piano is an Estonia 190, and I am using a Zoom H4 to record. I run my recordings through Audacity to normalize them and to cut off any dead time at beginning and end, but otherwise I don't edit them.

Bill said...

The Estonia seems to be very popular brand with the PianoWorld folks. Yours certainly sounds nice.

Shirley Kirsten said...

Nice, Harriet.. Keep up the good work..