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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? 

July 23, 2016

July 2016 Organ Lesson: Developing better at home practice

On July 16, I had another lesson with Michael at his church. I had made some recordings the night before and knew that I was not as far as long as I had wanted to be going into my lesson. I attempted to cram in extra practice that night, however that didn’t improve me enough to get a passing mark on anything at my lesson.

July 2016 Organ Lesson - Developing better at home practice

I still do not have it right!

I still do not have the syncopation correct in “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending.” I feel a bit crazy knowing that once again I spent 5 weeks (the time since my previous lesson), practicing it incorrectly! I managed to not cry during my lesson. I am frustrated, but I also want to get it right. This one has been on my assignment list for over a year now!!!!!!!!!

We did the clapping and singing exercises again at this lesson that we did at my previous lesson. I need to do more of that at home. I was good at it the first week or so after my last lesson, but really didn’t make it a habit. And now, Michael says I need to emphasizing the right beats when playing. I suppose it is good that he gave me something new to figure out! Michael played it for me at the end of my lesson and I recorded it to have as a guide.

Developing better at home practice

My next lesson will be sometime in September. It has been easy for me to revert back into old habits a week or so after my lesson.

While I was driving home from the lesson, I got the idea to make a list that I can keep at the organ to help me have better practice sessions. This list will remind of all the things Michael has told me to do at home.

Seeing the list when I practice, will help me make these things a habit and better at home practice. Hopefully, this will lead to improved playing at a faster rate than what I have achieved previously.

At Home Practice list of questions:

  • Can you rhythm sing it?
  • Can you clap it?
  • What would Michael say if he was here?
  • Have you made a recording lately?
  • Have you listened to recordings of others playing this?
  • Would it be easier if you played it a bit faster?
  • Are you emphasizing the correct beats?
  • How is the tempo?
  • Are you making a sound when you play?
  • Have you checked this with the metronome?
  • Are you following the marks Michael added to the score?

What else should I add to the list?