Friday, October 5, 2007


Tempo. I have a theory about tempo. It is, that a piece can only be played easily when it is played at the tempo that the composer truly conceived for the piece. I’m putting that to the test.

I often tell my students that Bach is a composer that you can play slowly and still feel satisfied ---as the harmonies and the contrapuntal nature of the lines are so interesting. I’m having a hard time playing the Allemande at a slow enough tempo. I’m impatient and want to be able to dance on the keys today. I have practiced many of the passages carefully and repeatedly and hope that my hard work will be rewarded. I still feel like I’m all thumbs in places.

Recently I heard an NPR (Radio Lab) program about sleep. The program attempted to answer the questions: why do we sleep and what does it do for us. It turns out that all creatures sleep – some do so with one eye open. Part of the program mentioned that a musician was having difficulty with some passage work and had struggled while practicing. Unable to master the passage, the musician gave up and went to bed. The next morning the musician tried the problematic passage and amazingly the passage had been mastered while sleeping. Got me to thinking…time for sleep to help me conquer the Allemande and I’m going to put the score under my pillow for good measure!

1 comment:

David Saslav said...

Arthur Abell quotes Johannes Brahms (in the fascinating recounting of their conversation months before the great master's death in 1897, in "Talks with Great Composers") that great mental achievements can be performed in the transition between wakefulness and sleeping.

I tend to think there is a creative part of the brain that operates completely uninhibited by the "inhibitor" side of the brain as the latter is shutting down or starting up its conscious activities. This is why it is so important to keep a dream log or blank music paper on your night stand, within easy reach while in bed!