My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing or listening to classical music.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Beethoven meets my metronome! - Day 9 and Assessment 2

Image from Wikimedia Commons
Warning - this day's practice session involves my lovely, charming metronome for part of it so consider yourself warned.  And I promise I won't be insulted if you turn down the volume on your computer a little bit!

So why pull out the metronome now after I mentioned just the other day that I tend not to use it, especially when I'm in a time crunch?  Several reasons...first of all, someone reading my blog, Jamey, suggested after one of my previous sessions that I use the metronome, not necessarily because of my rhythm but as something to focus on and detract from my obsessing over insecurities.  Here's what he said:
"I don't write this to imply that you need help with rhythm, but instead to suggest you use it as a tool to help quieten any inner voice of self-doubt while you practice. Concentrating on something external may have a paradoxical effect of helping you focus on the music rather than yourself. Just a thought."
I saw a lot of wisdom in that suggestion so I thought I'd give it a go.

Secondly, I was still sensing that I'm not absolutely convinced of the rhythm in this slow movement.  It's in this incredibly slow 3/8 and I'm not accustomed to calculating such small subdivisions.  I've been trying to just do it in my head but I felt like I needed the metronome to double-check what I was doing.  Lo and behold, in doing so I discovered one passage that I had marked incorrectly in my music and that I was doing wrong, or maybe a more positive way to say it is that I was doing it not quite right.  The metronome showed me that I needed to take a good look at the rhythm away from the piano and to correct what I had marked in the music.  So that's what I did after recording this session.  Here's hoping it's right the next time.  

After working on the slow movement, I moved on to the third movement for some more woodshedding.  In this session I decided to also use a technique I learned from the wonderful pianist, Petronel Malan, a friend on twitter.  For passages that have fast notes in both hands she suggested playing the left hand an octave or two higher than written which forces me to cross my hands.  What this does, at least for me, is enable me to hear the left hand better.  My left hand is usually not as clean as my right hand so putting it on top reveals what needs to be strengthened.  It can also reveal which notes I'm not exactly sure of.  Last but not least, this technique is also just plain fun since it's something different.  And in my book, variety is often the name of the game since it keeps me from slipping into automatic, mundane practice.  

I ended the session with the cadenza to the first movement again, tweaking here and there and doing some more woodshedding.  I'm also continuing my work on making sure that the more awkward passages feel good in my hand and in my mind...that everything is working together smoothly.

After my practice session I decided to do another assessment.  It's such a good way for me to know where I am and what I need to do next.  Plus it only takes 10 minutes!  Why not?

Here is my second assessment.  It's getting there!

That's a good thing considering I'm down to 11 days!


  1. Hey, thanks for the mention. Hope it was helpful.

    1. Thank you, Jamey. And your comment here reminds me that I didn't really state that your idea did work in the way that you suspected it might. It gave me something to focus on which I appreciated.