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.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Project Capriccio, day 2: the fun begins!

I want to start off this post by saying that I am always excited to be on day 2 of any learning project.  The first day for me often feels a bit just like busy-work but on day 2, if I've been practicing carefully and slowly, I start to see progress, make music, and feel really good about myself and the work that I'm doing.  I also want to add that having a detailed plan like the one I have come up with for learning the Capriccio, is essential because it gives me realistic goals that I know I can attain.  Meeting goals and feeling successful is an unbelievably powerful tool.  It is also a bit addictive because who doesn't enjoy success?

So I'm picking up my cello - here goes day 2 of Project Capriccio...

1.  Reviewing the previous day's material: This is a crucial step and I am wary of skipping it unless I know that time is an issue.  It's important for two reasons:
  • It helps solidify the learning that occurred the previous day.
  • If I make sure I go about it in a healthy way (slow enough to not have mistakes, musically, and relaxed) than I will usually have success which means I will start learning the new section with a positive mindset
I review the material working backwards from the end, in the same way that I learned it.  This time, however, I am even more picky about the details.  If I miss a shift, jumble a bowing, or play a wrong note I immediately stop, analyze the problem, make any changes that need to be changed such as bad fingering or bowing, mark in the music anything that would help (fingerings, bowings, accidentals), and then play the isolated problem-spot until it is perfect.  If I have quite a bit of practice time, I often require myself to play a fixes spot 3 times in a row perfectly before I proceed.  When I am able to play the first chunk perfectly, with a steady pulse and no musical stuttering, I then continue on to the chunk labelled as "2." After I've conquered the second chunk, I then play from the beginning of that chunk until the end of the piece.  Next comes the 3rd chunk.  When I'm done tidying up that one, I play the 3rd, followed by the second, all the way until the end.  I continue in this fashion until I have reviewed all of the music I learned the previous day.  Since I am repeatedly playing through the chunks to the end with each new chunk being reviewed, by the end of this step, the ending usually sounds pretty solid - success!  Today, this step only took me about 15 minutes.  Granted, I'm used to my method so it goes quite quickly, but I think with concentration and determination, this method can feel virtually effortless in a small amount of time.

One final note about this step:  after working on the previous day's material for a while, passages that are more troublesome will make themselves pretty obvious.  When this happens, I mark the beginning and end of the trouble spot with a "*" in the music.  (Please refer to the image of the music below.  I have marked them with blue pen.) These markings will come in handy as we progress through the week.

2.  Learning new material: I follow steps 3 and 4 outlined in yesterday's post until I've learned the day's material.  Depending on how much time I have to practice, I make a choice about how far I'm going to play when I'm stringing chunks together.  If I don't have a lot of time, I will only play to the end of the section being learned each time.  But if I do have time, I play into the section learned the day before.  I string together a maximum of 7 chunks, however.  Otherwise, I fear that mindless repetition could sneak in.

Today this step took my about half-an-hour and by the end, I could play through the section very comfortably and pretty musically too.  I'm making myself very vulnerable now, by posting a video I took when I did the run-through of the new material. Please know that no cellos or people were injured in the recording of this video!  I will also post the music that was involved so folks can follow along if they wish. goes...

And here's the second-to-last page of the Capriccio:

3.  Playing through new section straight through to the end of the piece: I make sure I pick a tempo that will allow me to play without any mistakes.  On day two of a project, this is usually pretty slow.  It might take some getting used to, playing this slow, but I assure you, it's worth it!  Playing at this tempo allows me to think about everything all at once with a relaxed mind.  Requiring myself to use my brain while doing this also means I'm not as liable to fall into the mindless repetition trap.  Mindless repetition takes us back into the Los Vegas practicing syndrome that I mention in my post, Learning to "Leave Los Vegas."  Practicing in this way basically relies on luck.  I don't think we want our performances to only be successful if we're lucky!

So we're at the end of day 2 and I'm feeling good and very excited to learn another page tomorrow.  Until then, happy practicing!

Previous posts in this series:

A new lease on life, music, and practicing

Learning to "Leave Las Vegas" when it comes to practicing

Project Capriccio - learning how to practice by learning a new piece of music 

Subsequent posts in this series:

Project Capriccio, day 3 - dealing with doubts

1 comment:

  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.