October 8 Lesson Notes

October 09, 2012

This week's lesson was good. This being "English Suite Week" for orchestra I spent nearly all of my practice time Saturday and Sunday on that piece. My entire lesson was spent reviewing that piece.

An English Suite

In our review of the piece during my lesson, David said it was improving. Together we decided where I would play fewer notes so that I can keep up. I'm able to play most of the piece now, albeit at about half of performance tempo. We've already eliminated playing the double and triple stops - I'll just play the bottom note of those. Where the music has sixteenth notes that I'm not skilled enough to play at the required tempo, I'll just play the notes that are on the 1st (and sometimes 3rd) beats. In effect a base line as played by cello.

The performance is still more than a month away and I am making progress so I may be able to play more of this than I think is possible today.

Everything Else

Right now I feel good about Over the Rainbow. I'm starting to feel good about Adagio for Strings, Saber Dance, and Revenge of the Red Pepper. With some concerted effort I think I can get Vier Kliene Stucke and Brook Green Suite to the "starting to feel good about" stage in time for the performance. There are parts of Concerto Grosso that I can play and feel good about. I need to work on playing it with passages and notes left out. The same holds true for An English Suite.

My goal is to continue to improve the pieces that are good or nearly good, and work on triaging the others so that I can at least play some of the notes in support of the orchestra. It's a balancing act between maintaining the ground I've already gained on Rainbow, Adagio, Saber, and Revenge and trying to improve the others. Too much time spent on the others will come at the expense of the pieces I'm "good" with.

Toward that end, my practice plan for the foreseeable future is to play through the four pieces I feel good about each night, focusing on incremental improvements. And then work on one or two other pieces or movements for the bulk of the practice. I know it is highly unlikely that I'll have some huge breakthrough and suddenly be able to play something I haven't been able to play before, rather I'll make little incremental improvements that over time will add up to an improvement in the piece.

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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.