Practice time flies…

when you’re fumbling your way through the E minor scale.

If I ever had any illusions that it would be possible to run out of things to do with a full two hours of practice time a day those illusions are now a distant memory. In fact, I’m learning, it’s quite possible to lose entire afternoons and evenings on four measures (or less) of the Allegretto and/or my new arch nemesis – the E minor scale.

For example, today’s practice session can be broken down as follows:

5 minutes – Long Long Ago (now thoroughly memorized) to check-in on the bowing and warm up the fingers
30 minutes Schroder #12 (aka warmup)
30 minutes E minor
45 minutes Allegretto
15 minutes G Major (just to make myself feel better after the debacle that was the E minor time)

Plus about 10 minutes of recording time, pre-play bow rosening and post-play string cleaning.

The upside, however is that even though E minor makes about as much sense to me as a walrus on a bicycle, it does sound right (according to my tuner), and I’m a little deliriously happy with how good the Schroeder piece sounds even though I’m nowhere near tempo.

In fact, that really is the only thing I’m a little concerned about: I’m nowhere near tempo in any of my pieces at the moment. Even Happy Birthday sounds somewhat like a funeral durge. I’m starting to wonder if I’m just a really slow learner and in my darker moments wondering if I will ever be able to play a piece at the speed for which it was written.

What makes me feel better about all this is the fact that I think I’m developing a pretty good ear, and ability to correct for pitch. Now, if only I could get up to speed.

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About Eddie

Watch what happens when you give a writer a cello.
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2 Responses to Practice time flies…

  1. Hi Eddie,
    One good technique to begin working things up to speed is to work in very short fragments – 2 notes to begin with. Set the metronome and prehear the notes. Sing or say them at tempo. Then play them. 2 notes, then 3, maybe up to a whole measure. If you feel tense when you finish, you have played too many notes at once. Repeat until the notes are at tempo and you are relaxed, then add another note. A fun technique, and a way to productively use practice time. Happy practicing! ggp

    • Eddie says:

      Hi GGP,
      I had a “lightbulb moment” when you mentioned being tense at the end as a sign that too many notes had been played at once. I haven’t been interpreting that tension that way (although I wondered why sometimes I’m all wound up at the end of a couple of measures) and that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the insight!

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