Practicing on weeknights

You know, I have the hardest time practicing on a new instrument on weeknights. I’m stressed out, tired, and sometimes want a snack. I am happy to sit at the piano and noodle around or practice, because I know how to play that one. Any of the others, the ones that I’m basically no damn good at — the single-note ones where I need to just relax and stop trying so hard — are a total loss on weeknights.

I can play a piano to relax, although even then I still prefer to play it when I’m already in a fairly relaxed mood. I will pick up needles or a hook when I’m nervous or stressed out to just channel the nervous energy into something useful, but the piano is my happy island. I like to keep it that way. It’s not where I go to work off worries.

The other instruments are just much more sensitive to impatience and stress because I’m still at the level of making a decent noise on them. I keep thinking, “Okay, I need to gain ground here,” instead of just relaxing and making a noise. I am at such a low level on them that I have no ground to gain.


Done the transcription of “Confusa si miri.” A fun one. Now, to listen to a bunch of Bach and Buxtehude preludes and see what rattles loose.

Here‘s what I’m working with — not the recitatif, just the intro which starts 27 seconds in. It’s so dramatic and fantastic, and heavy sounding. I’ll probably someday want to go back and do something with it again.

Oooh oooh *jumps up and down*

Ooh, a Buxtehude version of one of the next arias! Oooh oooh oooh …

*bounces up and down in chair while making hand gestures like Wallace when he talks about going to the moon to find cheese*

“I know! I’ll go where there’s Buxtehude!

In other words, here. All those crunchy preludes … This one looks like really fertile ground.

Update: You know what I should do — I should listen to all the preludes in the WTC. I like them better than the fugues anyhow, although that probably verges on heresy coming from a lover of classical music. I think there’s a part of me that never forgave him for putting them in the wrong order, although that might not have been him; I’m not enough of a Bach specialist to know. But if it had been me, I’d have put them in order of key signature, not tonic, and have advanced in order of the circle of fifths. C Major, then A minor, then G Major, then E minor, etc. This C Major, then C minor, followed by the D’s nonsense just drives me nuts.

I have the Zhu Xiao Mei CDs and like them well enough; I really should just reorder the stupid things in iTunes and listen in their proper order, that which is ordained in Nature and cozy for the universe, as opposed to this heathen way that causes the edges of the universe to creak and my eyelid to twitch.


I’m working it out, but I’m just not sure there’s enough “there” there. I’ll keep hammering because I’m only partly through the initial transcription, and who knows what could turn up later.

But … I wouldn’t be surprised if for some reason, a whole lot of nothing turned up.

I’m hoping for surprise, though. I really want this project to be four (Senesino) aria intros, goddamn it.

Update: Imunna fart around a bit with “Vivi, tiranno” and see what happens, too.

Working out more chords

So at least this weekend, I worked out the chords to “Confusa si miri,” so that’s good. This one’s going to take a little mental marinating.

It’s vaguely similar to “Se fiera belva” in that there’s one engaging part where he runs in order through the triads in the key signature. Down instead of up, but it’s interesting. We’ll see what it turns up.

I’m also officially Not Going To Murder Myself™ over the Albéniz version of “Se fiera.” It’s making the nerves in my right elbow tingle, and I already have a ganglion cyst in my right wrist now. I am not a conservatory brat, and I’d rather have written the thing than be able to audition for Juilliard with it.

If it’s a choice between writing “Flowers for Algernon” or being able to type it without misspellings on stage in real time, I’ll take the former.

So do all music teachers do this or what?

“I just got a new transfer student who spent X months/years with another teacher, and I’ve never seen anything so screwed up before in my life!

“Their bow hold was completely dysfunctional! I can’t even imagine what I can do with them!”

“Look at he holds his wrists when playing the piano! There’s so much wrong here I don’t even know where to start!”

“I showed her music and asked him what the clefs meant, and she actually said that the top one was supposed to be played by the right hand! Oh my GOD! How stupid can one six year old be?!”

“He was holding his violin straight out to the side! Who plays like that?

“I asked her to improvise a short piece, and she looked at me like she didn’t even know what I was talking about! What kind of ruined, worthless musicians are all other music teachers turning out! She’s already nine years old!

Holy fucking SHIT, people. No, your students are not totally ruined, every other teacher in the world is not an incompetent idiot, and if you are throwing single-digit kids on the scrap heap for having slightly too-flat wrists or not giving you a ten-page thesis on The History and Purpose of the Bass Clef, you are seriously too caffeinated. Calm the fuck down.