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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Of Bugs and Magnifying Glasses

It’s been a while since I’ve described how my one hour sessions go. So here’s a synopsis. I begin with five minutes of finger pushups with i, m, and a. For less string resistance, I do this over the soundhole—for more string resistance, nearer the bridge. After this, I set the metronome to 40 and begin playing the first variation of Guardame, four notes per click. (Toward the end of the week, I found I could begin comfortably at 60.) If things go well at that tempo, I increase the metronome setting one click. I continue doing this for thirty minutes. The last couple of days, I found I could get to a metronome setting of 80 before the end of the half hour. It didn’t always feel good at this tempo. But lately—well, more on this anon.

I’ve also added other musical excerpts to my alternation session. There’s this bit from Alonso Mudarra’s Galliard:

(Yes, I know the last two measures aren’t in the original. Cut me some slack here.) I’ve also added this excerpt from Drewrie’s Accordes:

(See, I can stick to the script on occasion.) The idea is to add a little real world playing to the mix. All these excerpts toss in some string crossing, and all offer something more than a short burst. Also, they’re from pieces I use with students. So what I learn while playing them becomes fodder for my students.

Then it’s on to arpeggios. For the moment I’m sticking with the Giuliani E minor and the Carulli Fandango. But I might soon add more work between m and a. For this, I like to tweak Fernando Sor’s Op. 6, No. 1:

For the moment, my arpeggios are working better than my rest stroke alternation. Indeed, at the beginning of the week my alternation felt awful. On Thursday and Friday, however, things took a turn for the better. There were moments where my alternation felt pretty good at 80. For Guardame, that’s approaching a reasonable performance tempo. A further bit of good news: my right shoulder feels good.

The rest of my hour is rounded out with sweeps, rasgueados, and stretches.

As an aside, sometimes I suspect a malevolent god is toying with me. Every time I’m about to collapse in despair, a sudden tiny improvement appears like a puddle in the desert. So I sip gratefully and trudge on. All I can say is that there better be one hell of a Starbucks at the end of all this. But I can't shake the feeling that I’m just a bug under the watchful eye of a kid with a magnifying glass.

Theology always makes me nervous.

——[My next update will be June 13, 2011]——

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