Slow practice and my latest “dur” moment

Wow. Slow practice actually does work, occasionally tedious and annoying though it may be.

So once again, I’m writing things that are beyond my ability level, only this one is beyond my ability level in a more irritating and challenging way than some of the other stuff. In the past, I’ve done things that involved perhaps clumsy or awkward stretches/reaches, which I can usually crack fairly quickly in terms of problem solving, and get to within “good enough for government work” with only a bit of time in the woodshed. I have fairly long, flexible hands, so while I’m not Rachmaninoff, I’m not too badly situated for those. They are fun challenges, and not annoying ones.

This piece I’m working on — five sharps — has annoying challenges in it. Fussy bits in both hands where things are moving quickly, and I have about seven millions frilly bits to keep track of. It’s not a physical challenge but a mental one: keeping my mind on track for all of the various fine-tunings I have to engage in to make the passage work at all, much less work well. There’s things that are physically demanding, and things that make you go cross-eyed mentally; this is in the second category. I am not kidding all two of my faithful readers when I say that I was actually wondering if there wasn’t something wrong with me because I just could not get this down.

Aside: I wrote it! How dare it not teleport itself into my hands on demand!

So, I sigh and whine, and start in on slow practice … and soon enough I’ve got it at least technically down if not to the point where I have the phrasing and expression where I want it. Gotta hit the right notes first before you can start thinking of how to hit them.

So for now, I just have to sit there and crank on this thing slowly, paying attention like a Buddhist monk the whole time, until I can get a bare version of it recorded, listen to it a few dozen times, let it marinate in my head for a while … and then write the next part. I’m not sure what the next part will even be. This seems like a pretty straightforward salon piece built on one “gimmick,” but at the same time it feels as if it might want to expand to another gimmick at some point. I’ve never really written programmatic music, and I have some ideas about that here. We’ll see what happens.

But at least, thanks to slowing down so that my mind can get used to paying close attention where it needs to, I can at least play the thing.

Second aside: I feel like a bad widdle kid because I just realized I don’t even have a tag for “practice.”

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