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Last Saturday, I meant Michael for another organ lesson at his church. I learned that I need to be self-aware when I am practicing at home. It’s possible that I am relearning this again.
My problem is that I think my playing at home sounds okay. Then I go to my lesson, and it isn’t accurate! I also still have the problem of redistributing the tempo. It may come out to the right time in the end, but that doesn’t make it okay!
When I played “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation,” the passing notes were two slow. And then in “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” some of the eight notes were too fast! This is frustrating, of course. And I need to be able to identify these issues at home.
I will record myself playing with the metronome clicking. At my previous lesson, I was directed to play the Fugue from “Prelude and Fugue in E Minor” at a slow tempo with the metronome. And Michael said he wanted to hear a recording of it. Well, I practiced this way for two months (I don’t practice every day). But I waited until the night before my lesson to make a recording! It was clear on the recording that I was ahead or behind the metronome some of the time.
Michael’s other suggestion was for me to play with more stops. He said with a fuller sound I might be able to more clearly hear the problems as I am playing. So, I will give that a try. Since we had the issues with the kittens getting inside of the organ, I’ve also had the expression pedals at about the same volume level. It’s a bit of a hassle to remove the piece of wood the prevents the cats from getting inside of the organ, but I should still increase the volume. And, it was hard to hear the pedal notes on the recording.
I once again failed to play “Glory be to the Father” correctly. That first line is messing with my mind. I will stop playing it for awhile. Also, Nun Bitten Wir was moved to the back burner as it’s about 90% ready to go. Michael asked me to focus on the hymns and fugue until my next lesson.
Also, I was assigned “Let it Breath on Me” which is intimidating because of all the dotted notes which are an ongoing struggle for me. I will conquer them!!!
My latest cat project is fostering a cat that was bitten by another animal. He is in the picture for this post. I took him to the vet when he came to my yard limping. While at the vet he tested positive for feline leukemia virus. So, he’s being kept indoors (so that he doesn’t spread the virus to other outdoor cats) and away from my indoor cats (so they don’t get it) while I find a home for him.
He wasn’t very good at being a stray cat (he was in many cat fights during the fall, even after being neutered). So maybe like me, he struggles with self-awareness!
What tips do you have for discovering issues on your own while practicing?
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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:
Do you have any other suggestions?