Last Saturday I met with Michael for an organ lesson. I would like to be able to say it was an epic lesson – a lesson where all pieces receive Michael’s approval. It had been about 3 months had past since my previous lesson. I wanted that to be enough time to perfect everything. I could make excuses or list why I was too busy to not practice more. However, my problem seems to be with how I’m practicing, not that I practice too little.
I had asked in the Facebook Organist Association Group if I should practice before my lesson. The answers I received varied. I didn’t have time to practice before my lesson, but even if I had, I’ve been practicing some of the pieces incorrectly for so long, one more run through would not have had much of an impact.
While thinking about my lesson on the drive home, I realized that I have a problem. My practice is wrong for weeks or months. The wrong way becomes such a habit that I have heard time recognizing the issues on my own (which is another problem). This makes it that much harder to correct. I need to find a way to change my mind so that I can make the corrections on my own.
My other issue which I’ve had consistently over the years is not feeling the tempo. I am going to try working more with the metronome in hopes that I can learn to feel it!
My lesson started with the prelude from “Prelude and Fugue in F Major” (BWV 556). To overcome the page turning issues I had previously, I printed both the prelude and fugue again and attached them in sections to a heavier weight paper stock. Issue solved! No more page turning! I was feeling confident going into my lesson. I felt nervous though at the start but I calmed down by the second time through. It was not perfect and still had problems. Some of the problems I’ve had for more than one lesson!
Flashback: This happened when I was learning “All Creatures of Our God and King” too. Michael told me I was not playing the pedal legato (connected) in a couple of measures. I had practiced it wrong so many times that it sounded okay to me. In my mind it sounded right! I was only able to make the correction after I came home and made a video and saw exactly where the issue was with my own eyes. (NOTE: I was not instructed to play the entire pedal line legato. There was phrasing and articulation. I just struggled with a few measures where the pedal part would sound better of played legato, in my opinion)
The fugue of “Prelude and Fugue in F Major” could have went better! With this and also “Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether” I could play the correct notes for weeks. But then from some reason, I started to struggle again. Like I had lost the muscle memory. I will be writing in more fingerings to see if that will help going forward.
Bercuese was so close to being passable. I continue to not hold some of the notes long enough and had a few legato issues. Michael says “We don’t want to wake the baby!” as Bercuese means lullaby and it was not smooth and sounded a bit jerky. We discussed if it was “good enough”. I’m a little tired of playing it, but decided I should do it one more time to smooth out the kinks. I don’t want to leave it unfinished!
“By Gracious Powers” and “Crown Him with Many Crowns” went very well. I had to play them through a few times to demonstrate that I could play the pedal line legato and then Michael checked them off my list! That felt like a huge success as “By Gracious Powers” had been assigned at my previous lesson. This also shows that I CAN practice correctly. I just need to figure out how to make new habits and have better focus on the pieces I’ve been learning for many months.
I was assigned two new Hymns: “Christ, Might Savior” and “Ah Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended”. Michael said he doesn’t know when of these hymns but he didn’t say which one. He picked that one for me for a reason! Also, assigned was “Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen” which in English is Ah Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended.
I am slowly but surely making progress!
Do you have any tips on how I can overcome my issues with practice something wrong without realizing it?