I was totally missing a couple of huge slurs and staccato markings that have made the bowing a cakewalk. I’m torn between kicking myself and finally beginning to get this piece down. I feel like I just kicked off a pair of too tight dress shoes. I’ve been struggling with this thing, and it’s because I’ve been doing it wrong. For months. I first encountered this stupid piece of music probably last year or so. And I finally just got sick of struggling with parceling out the bow so I wouldn’t run out of any and said out loud, “I’ve got to take another look at the music, I’ve got to be missing a slur or something.”
Over a year, and it finally hits me! Over a year! I know people say that if you practice something wrong too often it gets engrained in your brain and it’s hard to lose the bad habit, but for this time at least, doing it right at last has made it so much easier that I feel like I’m finally able to breathe deeply. It’s like losing ankle weights. This thing just turned into something that I can whip into damned fine shape in about twenty minutes of focused, relaxed practice this weekend. Then, it’s on to the Gavotte with a clear conscience at last.
I have no idea what possessed me to finally just look at the stupid sheet music and actually pay attention to all of the slurs. I sometimes think it’s an artifact of being a pianist, where slurs are only marks for legato phrasing but not really mechanically relevant. Jesus on toast, it’s like the things are in bright red neon on the sheet music, just blinking at me like, “We’ve been here the whole time, you monkey.”
From now on, the first thing I will do with every new piece of sheet music, after looking at the key signature and going, “Oh okay, Gm and a waltz,” is to go through it — possibly with a highlighter — and mark every single stinking slur. Every one.