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April 14, 2018

April 2018 Organ Lesson – Slow Progress is still progress!

April 2018 Organ Lesson - Slow progress is still progress

On April 7, I met with Michael for another organ lesson. I didn’t have a lesson in February or March. By the time I was ready (I contact him once I feel I have progressed enough to make a lesson worth his time), he was busy with Easter commitments.

April 2018 Organ Lesson - Slow progress is still progress

Lesson Highlights

I started the lesson by playing “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.” I nailed the first half! With the second half (which is a bit harder for me to play) I am still playing with my old habit of redistributing the tempo. I thought I had this worked out at home, but when we worked in small sections and with Michael pointing things out, I could hear the problems. So, I will continue to work on this.

“Christ is the sure foundation” finally received Michael’s stamp of approval. I did have some tempo issues, but I had a recording from home that proved that I can play it correctly (with the metronome). I’d been playing this hymn for almost a year. I was ready not to play it again.

My love/hate relationship with the metronome continues!

“Let it Breathe on Me” was interesting in that I could play it with the metronome but the tempo was wonky without it. So perhaps I have become too reliant on the metronome.

I am still struggling with note accuracy Fugue from Prelude and Fugue in E Minor once the pedal part comes in. Michael suggested that I practice it without the metronome until I have the notes correct.

The metronome isn’t always my friend!

Slow progress is still progress

My progress feels slow and it slow, having to practice hymns and other pieces for a year or more isn’t a stellar pace. But I am still improving and haven’t given up! Persistence will win.

Part of my slow progress is due to not making the time to practicing every day. Recently, my foster cat has taken priority over my organ practice (and other activities) in the evenings. He has to be kept separate from my other cats since he has feline leukemia virus and I want to spend time giving him attention every day.

But, if I really wanted to get better faster, wouldn’t I find a way to practice more? Do less of something else to have time for the cat and organ practice? I can make different choices.

The habit of not practicing every day has become just that, a habit. I need to work on straightening the habit of daily practicing! I am feeling inspired to work on this habit after reading this blog post on the Yes and Yes blog.

My progress is slower than I want it to be but it’s still progress. I can also tackle my practice habit to get better faster.

Have you changed a habit that lead to significant change or improvement? Share a success story in the comments!

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.

March 7, 2017

February 2017 Organ Lesson – Toe Hopping habit

February 2017 Organ Lesson - Toe Hopping habit

On February 25, I had another organ lesson. This was my first lesson since I played for a church for the first time back on January 1st. Since I had to learn new pieces for that performance, I did not start focusing on the hymns assigned at my November lesson until mid-January. I took a break after the church performance!

February 2017 Organ Lesson - Toe Hopping habit

Toe Hopping

Since my last lesson, I developed a habit of using only my toes when playing hymns! I did not realize I was doing this until Michael asked me about it. He asked me why was I hopping my toes?

I don’t know why I started doing this. Maybe it felt easier at the time. This technique lead to the pedaling in the hymns not being as legato as they should have been. He had me switch to using heels and toes. After I switched the hymns felt easier to play and sounded better too!

I am feeling a bit frustrated with introducing a new issue to correct!

None of my pieces received a passing mark at my lesson. I admit that I did not try my hardest to fix things on my own since my previous lesson. After practicing so much in December, I felt a little burned out. I let myself fall into old habits (not using metronome enough, not counting, etc.) and relied on Michael to point out the issues.

Obviously, this was not the best choice in progressing with the organ! With so many years of practicing, I have the tools to fix issues before lessons!

Reviewing my church performance

I played a few of the hymns that I had played for the church service in January. I was not surprised when Michael expressed that they were not in the best shape! He is having me work on Glory Be to God the Father for my next lesson.

The interesting thing is, I have all the tools to fix the issues and didn’t do it before the church service. However with the short time frame I had to learn the hymns, I did the best that I could for the church service. I will need to let it go that my performance was more cringe worthy than perfect.

My performance of each piece can be viewed on YouTube here.

My kitten is helping with practice!

In other news my kitten, Taco, has decided to that he likes to run across the keys when I am practicing! I would love from him to sit calmly on my lap while he plays. Sometimes he also investigates the pedals while I’m playing. We adopted (rescued) him in December.

Taco on the Pedals

Taco on the Pedals

Do your cats “Help” you practice?