Week 2/104: What Shall I Do on My Vacation?

Went to have my lesson today, finally. Confirmed my suspicions about why I’m having wrist and forearm pains, because it felt a lot more natural to play at a real piano. Upon coming home, I put some more cushioning on my chair, and thereafter was able to play without any discomfort of the forearm for an hour and half, although my wrist is sometimes weird because it sometimes needs to make wide turns. Still, it feels much better. HOWEVER! My back is much more tired. I was sitting up straight the whole time so I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is because the cushioning slides around on the chair and I use the muscles in the lower back to stay in place. I amn’t sure.

I made a lot more mistakes in front of the instructor than in the comfort of my home, and I wasn’t even nervous. This makes me wonder how I will do performing for a real audience. Of course, if I were actually performing, I would know the piece COLD, not lukewarm like with Alfred’s. Instructor asked me to polish a few pieces for our next session, so I’ve started doing that today. Each piece I played through 10 times and stopped (except for the last couple, where I got tire), and so pretty much have memorized. Since I’m going to be polishing them, I figured I might as well record them. So I’ll put them online sometime.

Instructor found a few problems with my playing. One is that, on parts where the left hand is playing repeated notes (and therefore unable to play legato (continuously) because the hand must lift off the note before striking it again–actually, he told me the mechanism by which advanced players can play legato even when repeating a note, but that’s too hard for me right now…) the right hand also stops playing legato, because the natural instinct is to sync both hands. I am to work to stop that.

Also, I haven’t been working on my crescendos at all, because they felt too hard the first time I tried it. Additionally, I completely glossed over the marking on a piece where I was to play the melody in the RH fairly loudly but the accompaniment softer. So I am to put in more dynamics in general. This can’t really happen until I am fairly familiar with a piece, so I suppose that’s why I’m polishing up these songs.

He also told me to depress the pedal after the first note in the pedal bracket has been played (probably to make it easier for later, when I’ll need to pedal successively). It’s funny–when I was at the lesson, he told me that I was doing that already, and asked me why, because he was going to tell me to do that later, and most people hit the pedal before they start playing the note. I told him it was because I cannot process everything at once. I start playing the note, then my brain thinks, oh shit, I need to pedal here, so then I pedal. And I know that I can start pedaling any time after the note has been hit and before the finger lifts off it and it will still sound the same, so I don’t make an effort when practicing to start pedaling earlier. The funny thing is, now that I’ve practiced my pieces and start to memorize them (playing them 10 times in a row makes me MUCH more familiar with them than playing 3 times in a row, as I usually do) and can play at speed, I’ve started hitting the pedal the instant I hit the note, and must now train myself to put in the delay.

I think by the end of the week, I will have worked my way to the end of the book, and will have polished quite a lot of the songs. It might take another week to polish all of them. By that time I should also have Prelude to performance grade. The problem is, I’m leaving for NJ on Saturday and shan’t return until the start of Fall quarter. I hope it hasn’t all decayed by then.

I wanted to stop the countdown clock for while I am on vacation, since I wouldn’t be practicing at all, but my roommate wouldn’t allow it. I was going to construct an argument, but I’m too lazy. Right now we’re on week 2/104. What I’m going to do is, on the weeks where I am vacationing and not practicing, rather than increasing the first number, I will decrease the second number. That way, the first number always denotes how much practice I’ve had. The second number is variable and will denote how much total practice time I will have had until the end of the bet, which will always be August 14, 2010. So for example, when I come back on 9.25, it will be week 3/101 (I actually lose 3.5 weeks, but whatever, no system is perfect).

I also think that, to gauge my progress, I shall have a mini-recital once every 3 months (quarterly), by which I just mean record a few pieces and put them on youtube. By the time week 9 rolls around, I should be able to play some real, non-Alfred pieces. I’ll announce the program when I have a better idea of what kind of stuff I’ll be capable of by then.

Prelude & Alfred’s: finish by Week 3


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