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Monday, May 14, 2012

It’s a Virtue—Or So I’m Told

My apologies for posting a day late. Sunday was a Mother’s Day, so it was busier than usual.

I’ve hit a wall. Or maybe it’s better described as a giant cotton bale. Unlike a wall, a cotton bale gives a little. You push, it gives. You push a little more, it gives a little less. You keep pushing harder, it keeps giving less. And then, finally, it stops giving at all. At that point, it might as well be a brick wall. But at least it was soft enough initially to make the impact a comfortable one.

Comfortable or not, I’m not getting anywhere by repeatedly flinging myself against the bale. I’m backing up and going back to basics. For the first half hour of my practice sessions, I’m doing i & m alternation very slowly—roughly two hits per click at 70. Throughout this, I’m carefully observing both the feel (a and c should feel light and easy, as though they’re not there) and the look (a-c should move with m at all times). I’ve done this before, but I believe I’ve been too impatient in the past. I’ve sped up too soon, without having the correct movement and feel so deeply ingrained that they stay correct at any speed. Patience—a virtue I’ve not had in abundance—is now my mantra.

During the second half hour I’m working on two Bach Inventions: Nos. 4 & 8. (They’re guitar duet transcriptions.) Both require much alternation, and I prefer to do most of it rest stroke. So they’re good pieces with which to try out what I practiced in the first half hour. At no time to I go any faster than where I can maintain correct movement and feel. Along with the Inventions, I’m also slowly playing through El Colibri. This morning I got it up to four notes per click at 60. Again, however, there’s no rush in this. Whatever time it needs to settle in, I’ll give it.

By the way, another reason I’m using the Bach Inventions is that I’m having a student work up four of them. I’ve told her that this summer I want us to record them so I can post them on my web site. I’ll include some text that gives a little background on the Bach Inventions. (I’ve done something similar before. If you haven’t already seen it, here’s a link to my recordings and text on Fernando Sor’s Op. 44bis.) That will give my student something to shoot for. Not coincidentally, it’ll also give me something to work at. Her rest stroke alternation is already better than mine. So I better keep up.

Patiently, of course.

——[My next update will be May 20, 2012]——

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