I am stuck...very, very stuck. More specifically, my Bach Well-Tempered Clavier project is stuck and it really doesn't feel good at all. I'm actually downright discouraged at the moment. So what has happened? How did I get to this lovely wall that I'm standing at?
Problem #2: The C-sharp minor Prelude perplexes me and the Fugue is a finger-twister. I went through and learned all of the book II preludes and fugues a year ago. I considered that time around as prep-work for more serious study. I remember how I felt about the C-sharp minor Prelude when I first started working on it - I simply didn't get it and I never felt an urge to just play it through during my non-practice times. That is very unusual when you're dealing with me and Bach - I can almost always play his music with a sense of peace, reflection, or meditation. Perhaps it's my tendency to play this particular prelude too slowly, or maybe it's the the long length, about 8 minutes long. There are also the ornaments, appogiaturas, and acciaccaturas (what the heck are those?!). I can handle pieces with a sprinkling here and there of this fancy stuff, but when the ornamentation is actually part of the whole point of the piece? It shows just how green I am with what used to be natural to your professional church or court musician. Recently I enlisted the help of a local harpsichordist who can play this type of music like I envisioned they played it during that period in history. She gave me many great ideas about how to approach it and it has gotten a little bit easier, but I still feel like a foreigner trying to speak a language I don't intuitively understand.
And the fugue...ah, the fugue. If you ever need to see something scary, just turn to this lovely fugue. The piece is an endless braid of fast notes. I have tried my own tried-and-true methods to get notes comfortable in my fingers and in my head. I have also tried a new method that I described in an earlier blog post, "Living life on the edge - a new practice technique discovery." Although playing it in small chunks up-to tempo and beyond has helped increase my confidence, I am still unable to play through the entire fugue without stumbling. Something must be missing. I put a "tweet" out on twitter last week, bemoaning my situation and was thankful that many twitter friends responded with a new recommendation to try practicing the fugue, hands separately, and then here's the kicker, backwards! Now I talk about learning and memorizing pieces backwards all the time but I have never done it note-for-note backwards. Sounds a little unbelievable to me, but this week I did start trying it and it can, indeed be done. So, we'll see what happens. If it ends up working, I think I'm going to owe @JoseSPiano and @craigswanson a drink of their choosing! If it doesn't work...well, I'm not going to go there.
So I don't really know why I decided to blog about all this. I suppose it's largely because these problems have been taking quite a large portion of my energy lately and I thought it would be good to share the bad stuff along with the good stuff. For now, I'm putting the Bach a bit on the backburner since I don't have an official deadline but you can be sure that I will not give up!