Monday, October 1, 2007
I’ve been listening to Andras Schiff play the Allemande. He is so fast and fleet of fingers. Really lovely. My fingers feel sluggish…back to Czerny for me. Today as I was practicing I kept running into trouble with some passages (actually the whole piece seemed hard). I thought I was going too fast. I slowed down the tempo, but was continuing to make the same mistakes. I felt pretty frustrated…then I took a breath and asked myself why these passages, slow or fast would not work for me. I flashed to a conversation I had with a teacher who told me to put a work slowly into my hands by really listening to the sounds that each finger is making on every note. So I listened very carefully and took note as to which fingers were playing when, and then noted the intervals my fingers were creating. As I did that I noticed that one of the spots that I was having difficulty with was because I was anticipating an accidental that happens in the next bar. I was worried about it, so I was playing it early – ½ beat early! I then played the passage slowly analyzing which fingers were playing and the intervals they were creating and viola – the next time I ran the passage no mistakes! This minor eureka moment reminded me of something that Charles Rosen wrote in Piano Notes roughly paraphrased as follows: “pianists are the only musicians who don’t have to listen to the sounds they make to play their instrument”. I find that many of the my students are guilty of this – as I am sometimes. I try to not play that way ever, because if I listen as I practice I fix mistakes quickly and then I spend less time practicing. Hurray! Practicing the piano is a discipline where it really pays to be in the moment playing with conscious intent.