March 06, 2012
With the Wildcat String Festival over my lesson did not include any Minuet No. 3 practice. Instead we focused on Schröder études and my current Suzuki pieces.
For étude number 23 David wanted me to practice only the first half of the piece. However, he wanted me to play it several times: with 1 note per bow, 2 notes per bow, 4 notes, and 8 notes. At first anything more than 2 notes per bow stroke was hard to accomplish. Playing more notes was easy, playing them all so they sounded good and were the same duration was harder. I started by just playing back and forth between two open strings. This allowed me to focus on the bowing and not worry about my left hand. Once I felt like I could play 8 slur connected notes on a single bow stroke, then I added in the left hand fingerings. It worked out nicely as I was able to play the piece smoothly in my lesson.
Étude number 27 is more involved, with a changing slur pattern, and some subtle shifts and extensions. I worked on the first half of the piece for yesterday’s lesson, for next week David wants to hear the whole thing. The trick is to break things down into smaller one or two measure chunks and work on just that rather than try to play through. It also requires looking ahead to determine if you need to shift for the upcoming notes or just extend. During the lesson we worked on the hardest line of the étude, five measures that are each a mini étude. David wants me to work on this line measure-by-measure and only combine them when I can play the individual measures smoothly and confidently.
I played through Allegro Moderato and, despite having somewhat ignored this piece while preparing for the competition, I was able to play the entire piece. There are several intonation issues I need to work on, and the whole thing needs to be faster.
La Cinquantaine is also full of intonation booby traps. The piece is littered with places where you play the same note repeatedly but with a different finger. Each of these finger-substitution opportunities is a mini-étude. David wants me to focus on them this week.
Between the university spring break, when there are no lessons, and a planned trip my wife and I are taking, next week will be my last lesson until April. David wants me to start listening to and looking at the first piece in Suzuki book 4, Sonata in C Major Op. 40 No. 1 by Jean-Baptiste Bréval. This will be a major step up in effort. It has two movements, and it’s four pages long. I can hardly wait to start.