Lesson Archives - Page 3 of 16 - Heidi Bender

Category Archives for "Lesson"

September 4, 2017

August 2017 Organ Lesson – Don’t be a Tempo Pusher

August 2017 Organ Lesson - Don't be a Tempo Pusher

On August 26, I met Michael for another organ lesson. The gap between this lesson and my previous lesson was larger than planned. This was due to the time required to socialize kittens was more than anticipated.

The big takeaway from this lesson was “Don’t Be a Tempo Pusher.” Oh, and I have to keep working on “Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies” as I was not playing the pedal legato.

August 2017 Organ Lesson - Don't be a Tempo Pusher

Don’t Be a Tempo Pusher

I was assigned Prelude from Prelude and Fugue in E Minor from the Eight Little Preludes and Fugues on October 31, 2015. Almost two years later, and I am still working on it. I cannot remember how many times we’ve said “one more lesson.”  At this lesson, I was pushing the tempo in some sections.

I was playing a bit faster than called for. This is a tendency I seem to have which gets embedded in my muscle memory. And then I have to spend time correcting it.

This piece is so close to being done. I feel frustrated with the amount of time I’ve taken to get it right. But Michael compared my progress to waxing a car. You wouldn’t wax 90% of a car and then try to sell it with 10% unwaxed. Since I’ve come this far, I need to polish that last 10%.

This tempo pushing problem isn’t only with this piece. I do it in hymns too. I need to be patient with the music and let it happen. There is no need for this rushing!

Assignment Update

At this lesson, I received Micheal’s approval on “Praise to the Lord, Almighty.” I was assigned “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.”

I am also to keep working on the Fugue from Prelude and Fugue in E Minor. This piece one was neglected to the point of not practicing it more than twice in between lessons. I gave up on it after socializing the kittens. I choose to focus on the hymns that were further along.

Michael also recommended that I don’t take long practice breaks!

We kept one of the kittens that I socialized. Her name is Nacho.

We kept one of the kittens that I socialized. Her name is Nacho.

June 30, 2017

June 2017 Organ Lesson – Tempo Redistribution

June 2017 Organ Lesson - Tempo Redistribution

On June 17, I met with Michael for another organ lesson.

Since then, I  have been preoccupied with the five feral kittens that were born in my yard. If you want to know more about that, I’m sharing updates on the Facebook page for my cats.

June 2017 Organ Lesson - Tempo Redistribution

Now, about the lesson! This lesson was tough for me. I am still struggling with “Glory Be to the Father.” As can be seen in the picture, this should not be a challenging piece to play.

The problem is with the syncopation in the first measure. Michael called what I’m doing tempo redistribution. I am playing four beats in the measure but not playing the notes the length that they indicate. I get to the second measure “on time.”

This problem has been quite frustrating. I know am a playing it wrong. Looking at the note values, I understand how they relate to one another. Yet, somehow, I am still misplaying it. I was able to get it right at my lesson with coaching from Michael!

My problems continue, but I refuse to quit.  What I can do is focus on better practice habits.

Practice Habits

Since my previous lesson, I decided to write down how I am practicing. This way, when Michael asks me “how did I prepare for the lesson,” what I did is written down for reference.

I also thought writing it down, would help me improve my playing as I used the metronome much more than usual since I didn’t want to write down that it wasn’t used.

Given that I still had so many problems playing note values correctly, I wonder if I was listening to the metronome? Was it on, and I just blocked it out?

Here is a list of what I will work on between now and my next lesson:

  • Loud Metronome
  • Be very intentional.
  • Listen to the metronome. No blocking it out.
  • Record myself more often. Usually, recordings reveal that my playing isn’t as good as it sounded when I was playing.
  • Listen to recordings of others playing what I am leaning.

Do you have any other suggestions?

April 26, 2017

April 2017 Organ Lesson – Changing my practice habits (again)

Last Saturday, I had another organ lesson. The highlight of the lesson was receiving approval of my playing of “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee”. And I will be starting on the Fugue from the Prelude and Fugue in E Minor. Between now and the next lesson, I will be polishing the prelude.

Most of the lesson was like other lessons. I was able to play through the pieces at home the night before. They sounded okay to me. Then, at my lesson, I am not able to play them as well. This is due to my practice habits and geometry.

April 2017 Organ Lesson - Changing my practice habits (again)

Practice Habits

I am having to face the fact that my practice habits are hindering my progress. I am not using the tools I know that will help me, like the metronome and recording myself. I have heard this from Michael before, but have failed to make permanent change.

Change is hard. Earlier this year, I read The Compound Effect (affiliate link). This book emphasizes small changes as they are easier to stick to long term. The small new habit can have a big impact when done consistently over a long period.

I am going to focus on using the metronome during every practice session. That seems like a small change to integrate.

I did successfully break my toe hopping habit I mentioned in my previous post!

Geometry

And I had the problem of not being able to quickly adjust to the organ at Michael’s church. All organs are not same. The church’s organ has 3 manuals (keyboards) while mine has 2 manuals. And the height of the bench (neither is adjustable) is different.

The distance to the manuals and pedals are different enough to through off my playing. This cannot be an excuse and will be something I need to overcome this to be able to play at churches or funeral homes.

The solution is to play on other organs more often! My husband said I can’t buy another home organ (maybe another free one will come my way!) now (we don’t really have space for it). Being able to play at local churches occasionally would help, if I can make an arrangement. I’m not ready to substitute for another complete service yet!

Remembering my original goal

When I started out taking lessons more than 7 years ago, my main goal was to be able to play for a church. My progress has been much slower than I expected.  And, playing the organ well is much more difficult than I ever imagined. Michael and I discussed my goal briefly as he feels maybe I need to play for a church to get some momentum with progress.

Then, the day after my lesson, I attended a local chorale concert. The group sang “Lift High the Cross” accompanied by organ. That is one of my favorite hymns, which I discovered only after I started lessons and heard it played on Pipedreams. This may have been the first time I’ve heard it performed live.  Hearing it again helped me remember why I started on the path to becoming an organist!

Have you had success changing a habit?