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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!
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!
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.
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.
Do your cats “Help” you practice?
“Much Better”. Several times while playing the two hymns at my lesson, Michael said “Much Better”. Hearing much better was music to my ears!
I started the lesson by playing “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright” which was assigned back in October 2015. I was confident going into my lesson that I had made the necessary corrections since my previous lesson. I was happy to have this one checked off my list! I still have a tendency to rush a bit in a couple of measures, but overall it was “much better”.
“God is Good” was also tightened up enough to get a passing mark. I was super excited! The work I did with the metronome and trying to become my own metronome by making a sound along with it paid off, for the hymns anyway!
I have been assigned three new hymns which feels like a fresh start for hymns. I am planning to learn these three more quickly than my previous trend of learning hymns shows.
The two classical pieces were not much better. I continue to struggle with the Prelude and Fugue in E Minor from Bach’s Eight Little Preludes and Fugues. Micheal pointed it out that is not that hard! I agree, isn’t. But somehow I am making it harder than it is. I have the notes mostly down, but struggle with the tempo and being able to hear my own problems. I need to record this one with the metronome so I can hear the issues on my own. Then I can correct them before going to my lesson.
I also learned that I should not play the organ in jeans! I don’t practice in jeans. Usually when I practice, I am wearing sweat pants at home or leggings (as shown in the picture). I had a bit of trouble with turning on the bench to reach the pedals while playing the prelude. So, that didn’t help any with my performance!
Michael said he would not recommend jeans. I am sure he and I have talked about that before. I have rarely seen him in jeans. Well, now it is time for me to stop! I suppose jeans would be okay, if I wanted to practice in jeans, but I’d rather continue to wear comfy pants.
My project to relearn Nun Bitten Wir by Buxtehude is still underway. Tempo problems with this one as well. I was able to make corrections while Michael was standing next to me giving me instructions. So that proves I can do it!
How’s your practice going? What’s your stance on jeans?
It’s been 2 weeks since my last organ lesson. The delay in writing this post is because the lesson was tough for me. I relapsed into old habits without realizing it. However, Michael recognized my old habits. One habit that resurfaced was slowing down for harder sections and speeding up in easier sections.
I must admit that I didn’t follow through on the list I made after my previous lesson. The list is sitting on the music rack. I saw it every practice session. I even read it during some of the sessions. But looking back, I wasn’t doing the items on the list.
One positive during the lesson was I finally got Lo, He Comes on Clouds Descending checked off my assignment list. Nothing new was assigned.
Sometimes, I feel like closing the console and looking out the window instead of working on my issues! But I am not giving up.
I am currently reading The Magic of Thinking Big (Amazon affiliate link) by David Schwartz. I came across this encouraging quote after my lesson:
We must have persistence. But persistence is only one of the ingredients of victory. we can try, try, and try and try and try again, and still fail, unless we combine persistence with experimentation. – David Schwartz.
I have been persistent over the last seven years in sticking with organ lessons. What I have been lacking is the experimentation. Michael gave me instructions at the lesson and I will think of them as an experiment.
Between now and my next lesson (currently scheduled for the end of November), I will be working on “becoming the metronome”. To accomplish this, I will be making a very short noise with my mouth (like ta, or tsk, or da) almost with my metronome at first.
This approach is different from my previous attempts to be like the metronome. In the past, if I was practicing with quarter note beat, I would sing or hum the entire beat. Instead of feeling the beat, I was learning to sing it in my own manner which may have not been correct.
What tactics have you used to break old, resurfaced habits?