Day 2: A Slow Day, in a Good Way

Today was much more like it! I did much better with staying focused and avoiding distractions. I think it helped that I split my practicing up into two shorter sessions today instead of one long one. I normally like to do this, but it depends on the day as to whether I’m able to or not. I also exercised more self control and did much more slow practice than I allowed myself to do yesterday. As I knew it would, it made a huge difference in how much I got accomplished. 

I have been slowly working through Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue this school year in preparation for a performance with the University of the Cumberlands concert band later this semester. There is this section toward the end that I’ve been avoiding for a while, and it’s just been sitting there, taunting me and daring me to learn it. I decided today would be the day, and I made a goal to learn it at a slow tempo. As I worked through it very slowly, I was able to see patterns and material that was used earlier in the piece that I hadn’t realized was there before. It actually turned out that I was avoiding that whole section for no big reason, and I was able to play through it in much less time than I had set aside for that passage. That extra time gave me the opportunity to play through the entire piece for the first time, since the section I worked on today was the last section I needed to learn. That felt great and gave me a boost of confidence about having it ready for later this semester. 

On Friday, I will driving up to Indianapolis to rehearse with my piano duo partner, Meghan Bartsch. We have been putting our first duo program together, and we performed half of that program here at the University of the Cumberlands in October. This weekend we will rehearse the other half of the program for the first time, and we will be performing the whole thing at Butler University in February. As the rehearsal is coming up, I have been working hard to half my parts of the music well learned. The hardest one we will be rehearsing this round is Lutoslawski’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini. Fortunately, I’m playing secondo on this one, which is not nearly as difficult as the primo. But my part does have its problematic spots. I have learned the notes for this one, but this was one that I was practicing too fast yesterday. I took much more time with it today, and I could feel myself getting to know it more. By the end of my time with it, I found myself playing almost all of it from memory when I wasn’t even trying to memorize it!

I finished the day by running through Debussy’s Petite Suite to identify any problem areas that I need to resolve before rehearsal with Meghan. Every time I came across a measure where I made a mistake or simply felt uneasy, I made a note of them in my journal, and they will be on my list of goals for tomorrow.

I know it’s only the second day, but my practice journal is already doing what I hoped it would do: it is helping me focus by giving me specific goals to aim for in my practice, It’s giving me information on what’s working and what’s not that I can use to improve my next practice session, and it’s increasing my sense of accomplishment by giving me tangible evidence of that I just achieved in my practice session. Another good thing about really great practice days…I can’t wait until I practice tomorrow! 

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