Last Saturday, I met Michael at his church in Toledo for another organ lesson.
The first piece I played was the prelude from the Prelude and Fugue in F Major (BWV 556). This was my best performance of it so far! However there were two measures that I played with uneven tempo. We spent about 15 minutes trying to break the muscle memory that comes with playing something wrong over and over again without realizing it. And we had a discussion about this and what I could do differently when practicing at home.
These lessons could be applied to life off of the organ bench!
I need to be better at recognizing my own problems.
I could do this by recording myself more often. We’ve talked about this at many lessons but I’ve not been in the habit of doing it recently. I have some fear of hearing myself play when I know it is not perfect. But I NEED to hear myself play to identify problems.
After I played “Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen” for Michael, he said “that was some of the best playing I’ve heard from you the first time playing a piece for me”. That was awesome! But I short changed the rests (did not rest long enough) in the pedal line. I don’t recall recording it more than once or twice (if it all) since it was assigned at my previous lesson. If I had taken the time to do this, I could have heard the problem and fixed it before my lesson!
What an outside observer would say if they were listening?
Michael challenged me to think what a person would say if they were in the room listening. Since I have 6 cats now (that’s a story for another post), I could ask “What would the cat say?”
Violet, one of the new cats, sometimes sits on an organ speaker while I’m practicing. Sometimes it seems like her ear twitches when I play a wrong note! If she could talk what would she say about my playing? Was it uneven? did I shortchange any notes? Did I speed up in the easier section and slow down for the harder section?
This is a similar exercise (Or maybe the same!) as when people have a business problem or issue and they think through how would an industry expert respond. What a well accomplished expert say? If you are familiar enough with the expert you can usually determine what their advice would be.
The bottom line
I need to make some changes in my practice habits to increase my success at the organ. I will reread the appendix of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Businessto help me build new habits!
I’ve updated my assignment list as I’ve been assigned Walcha’s chorale prelude on “Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten” and Bercuese finally received Michael’s stamp of approval! Overall, it was good lesson!
What techniques have you used to help you solve your own problems?
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