April 22, 2011

Get off to a good start

I've discovered through my video project that I've been able to play (and record) pieces that I've worked on for only a day as well or better than ones I've worked on for months or years. It's not comfortable to admit that, but now that I know this, I can make progress and hopefully help others who are in the same boat.

You see, usually I would sight read through various pieces I liked from time to time, to gauge my readiness for a given piece. If I could play all of it, I would decide it was OK to start learning it. 

The problem was, I had unwittingly already started learning it in a lazy and unfocused manner and I'd probably ignored the fingerings, missed some dynamic markings, etc, figuring it was OK because I would address them when I started learning the piece for real. But I'd built in some habits already, and then readying a piece for performance was a process of unlearning the errors and shaping the piece the way I wanted it. 

Well, I've had no time for that, so I had to just decide on an overall interpretation for the piece, break it down into manageable chunks and then commit to getting them to sound how I wanted ASAP. Then I could put the whole thing together and refine things from a more solid state of preparation.

The lesson is this: The more attention paid and intention invested in the details at the beginning of the process, the quicker, better, and more consistent the results. 


  1. Hey William, sounds really good! I like the phrasing and the loose feel, especially in the ending. And your hands look super light and relaxed. Congratulations!

  2. Thanks Philip, that means an awful lot coming from you!

    I had other takes, later in the day, that were mostly better but with some horrible gaff. Learning a piece to record in one day is not really an ideal circumstance, but I'm really glad to be doing this project. On the one hand, I am finding all kinds of faults with my playing, but on the other hand, I'll be making a dozen or more recordings of myself that I can actually enjoy listening to. It's giving me a confidence boost.

  3. Actually, I should clarify that. Finding faults is disappointing, but it also opens the door for improvement, and I'm happy about that.