Friday, May 30, 2014

And what of the piano?

I haven't mentioned piano in a while, but rest assured that I am still taking my weekly lessons and practicing diligently every day.  My current program:
  • Scales, arpeggios, broken arpeggios, chord progressions (one key per week)
  • Three-finger exercise (where you play 1-2-3, then 2-3-4, then 3-4-5 for an octave, up with the right hand, down with the left hand; first white keys, then chromatic, then whole tones)
  • Trill exercises
  • Bach (we've moved on to Partita No. 1 after my teacher decided I was bored/frustrated with No. 2 after working on it for a year)
  • Chopin étude Op. 25, No. 1 (the "Harp" -- or as my teacher calls it, "Harpy")
  • Brahms Intermezzo in B minor, Op. 119, No. 1 (though I haven't entirely put aside the B minor Rhapsody -- in fact, I find it interesting to go from Op. 119 directly to Op. 79 since they are in the same key)
  • A prelude by Ruth Crawford [Seeger] (I put "Seeger" in brackets here because she published these pieces between 1924 and 1928, before her 1932 marriage to Charles Seeger, father of the later famous folk singer Pete)
  • Piano duo (currently, some movements from Fauré's "Dolly" suite -- not exactly a favorite of mine musically, but pleasant enough, and a good introduction to playing four-hands piano)
Also, I try to play/practice the Beethoven sonata about once a week so I don't lose it entirely.

My teacher and I have had some discussions about how to improve my technique, especially how to achieve greater clarity, after I complained about how unevenly I was playing in the Bach (though probably in everything else, too; it's just more obvious in Bach). A lot of it lies in knowing when to lift my fingers higher and when to use more wrist. Scales are good for working on this, though it takes a lot of patience. I am so in the mindset of wanting to get to the music -- and if I have limited time, that's what tends to take precedence. But I do notice that I play better when I've been doing scales and exercises every day.

I have to persist in the face of the feeling I'm not "getting anywhere" with all of this -- though where exactly I'm expecting to get, I don't know.

From time to time, I do a little practicing of the WTC I/2 (the prelude and fugue in C minor that I set aside more than a year ago) to see if I feel like I can record it. It's still not quite there, believe it or not. My standards have definitely changed since I started that project!

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