Persistence Archives - Heidi Bender

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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!

November 27, 2016

November 2016 Lesson – Much Better and no more jeans!

November 2016 Organ Lesson Much Better and no more jeans!

“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.

November 2016 Organ Lesson Much Better and no more jeans!

Not Much Better

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?

October 2016 Lesson – When persistence with experimentation is required

October 2016 Organ Lesson - persistence with experimentation

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.

October 2016 Organ Lesson - persistence with experimentation

Persistence with experimentation

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?