Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 20 Lesson Recap

This was my first lesson in several weeks. I take lessons through the college where I work, and although taking classes is not discouraged, I feel as though I have to sneak off to get in my 11:00 lesson on Fridays. Two weeks ago I was scheduled for a budget appointment with our CFO, and I didn't feel as though I could just say "Sorry, but that's my lesson time!" And, then Spring break was the following week, so no lesson then either.

Since my first lesson, which was January 30, I have been working on Clementi's Sonatina in C, op 36. No. 1. My wife calls this "The Infamous" and it must be one of those rite of passage pieces, like Canon in D and Fur Elise because she played it when she was younger. It sounded familiar to me when my teacher first played it for me. Last Friday I played the first movement from memory for my teacher for the first time. I thought it could have gone better; the first half (before the little minor interlude) still has a lot of little parts that I only nail half of the time. I think I have tendency to get psyched out by trouble spots, and despite constant "ironing" out I still have an anxiety about them. The second half went much better. Curiously my teacher thought parts went well that I thought sucked! But, she was thinking about dynamics and articulation--I'm still preoccupied with not missing notes.

I think she must have "passed" me on this because we're moving on to the second movement. However, I intend to stay on top of it and keep at those stubborn rough spots.

My second piece was "L'Arabesque" by Burgmuller. This too could have gone better. I had it memorized--except for the repeat in the B section, For some reason I wasn't going back far enough to the repeat sign and only to the previous rehearsal marking. How messed up is that?
The sixteenth note runs are tough to get nice and even, but they're coming along slowly.
Nevertheless, she "passed" me on this one and now we're skipping over to "Ballade." I like this one. Burgmuller reminds me of Carcassi, the Italian guitar composer--flashy sounding pieces that aren't prohibitively difficult, yet have just enough meat to make it challenging.

The real low point in the lesson was "Nannerl's Minuet" from the "Bach to Bartok" collection. This is one of those pieces that looks like it should be easier than it is. Or perhaps, maybe it's my attitude. This collection is for "Late Beginners" which I most certainly am, but I feel like I should be at the point where these should be tossers. However, as my teacher points out, many of these editions underestimate the difficulty of counterpoint for players at this level. I ran into this a couple of years ago when I started playing the first two Bach "Notebook" pieces. Nasty bit of business for someone looking for a re-entry point on the piano after years of inactivity.

"Nannerl's Minuet" has a bit of counterpoint in it and has taken me longer to nail than I expected. What's more, my teacher let out her first involuntary "sigh" as we started going over this. She's not planning to belabor this one for more than one more lesson, but I got the impression she thought this one should have been easier too. Well, it wasn't so we're just going to have to keep at it until it gets that way I guess.

The one high point was that my Hanons seem to be making a difference. I'm playing them much stronger now, if not faster. The speed is coming, slowly but surely, however there is a great deal of concentration involved with speed. It's not just the physical aspect of moving faster. I suppose strength has something to do with it, but for me it's a matter of staying focused and not getting too self-conscious. As soon as I become conscious of my self trying to maintain speed and not miss notes--guess what happens? I start missing notes!

This was my sixth lesson of the semester. January 23 should have been my first one but I completely blanked out on it. I've missed one other scheduled lesson due to the aforementioned conflict.

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