On May 16th, I met with Michael at his church for an organ lesson. We realized that I’m not always able to play at my lesson as well as I do at home.
I started the lesson with the Bach fugue from Prelude and Fugue in F Major (BWV 556). I’ve been working on it for over a year. I felt confident that I would play it well enough to get it checked off my assignment list based on my progress at home.
Well, my performance did not go as planned! While better than my previous lesson, my tempo was still uneven in some sections. And I had a complete breakdown and stopped completely in the middle. I may have been thinking too much about playing it without messing up.
Michael had me play it again from start to finish, this time recording it on my phone. Even if played a wrong note or struggled with tempo I was instructed to not stop and keep going to the end.
The recording revealed my old tempo issue of speeding up when easier and slowing down when harder. I could clearly hear the issues in the recording.
I had made a recording at home during the week prior to my lesson. We listened to that recording together. My tempo was much more consistent and even at home! On scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is best the tempo was a 2 at home. My performance at the lesson was rated as a 6. That is a huge difference.
Home practice vs. performance
I need to be able to play consistently and accurately on any organ, not just my Saville organ at home. Being nervous probably did not help and the keys on my organ at home making a clicking noise, so that may be helping me at home.
Perhaps, I should reach out to some churches (and maybe funeral homes) in my area to see if they would let my practice on their organ once a week. This would give me experience with playing on more organ consoles than only mine and at Michael’s church.
The Next Lesson
I will keeping working on the fugue for one more lesson. Then I will be assigned another yet to be named fugue. Since fugues seem to be a bit more difficult for me grasp than other types of pieces, I must keep playing them to conquer them!
Until my next lesson, I am not to start any piece at the beginning. When Michael asked me to start the fugue in the middle, I had trouble with the tempo. I eased into it, instead of starting with the correct tempo. Michael asked if I always start at the beginning. I confessed that I did. This may seem like a small thing but It feels like a huge shift in my mind to change my routine.
I was able to play “Arise, Shine Out, Your Light Has Come” successfully during the lesson and this hymn was taken off my assignment list. “God Be With You till We Meet Again” was added.
Do you have any tips for planning at the same level at a performance as at home?