Minuet No. 3

November 26, 2011

My fourth solo recital opportunity is coming up on December 17th. David is hosting a recital that day for his pre-college students. Although I am old enough to be the father of all of the other pre-college students, and quite probably all of the college students too, I am only two-years old as a cellist.

At my first recital I played Long, Long Ago, and Minute in C. My second outing was the Boccherini Minuet, and my third was Berceuse. For the December recital I'll be playing what Suzuki called Minuet No. 3. (For an interesting aside about the veracity of the Bach attribution given the piece by the Suzuki book, you should read Petzold Minuet on Suzuki Skeptic.)

For the first and third recitals I used my music, or at least had it on the stand in front of me. David asked that I memorize my piece for the upcoming performance, so I have been focused on that task in my recent practice sessions. Tonight, after about 45 minutes focused work, I was able to play the entire piece with only one or two memory slips. If you think the piece as having a "A" section, a "B" section, and a "C" section, where A is repeated, B is repeated, C is played through once, and then A once more to finish; then I have trouble with the starting measure or two of B, and again in the first couple of measure of C. Fortunately I have two weeks of practice time left before the recital. I'm out of town next week without my cello, so I lose six days of practice.

My goal is to have it completely memorized at a good performance tempo shortly after I return from my business trip, and to video myself to add pressure to the practice sessions. In the dojo I belonged to we used to say that sparring in a tournament put you under a different kind of stress than we could generate in the dojo. Playing a recital is stressful, and any and all things I can do to duplicate stress while I play at home will help make the performance that much better. Pointing a video camera at myself seems to halve my playing ability, so that is one good way to practice. I may also ask my wife to accompany on the piano, as David will accompany me on his cello during the performance. Playing with another person is also added stress.

I'm looking forward to my recital, and I hope that being this far along with my piece this early in the process will help to make it a worthy performance.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.