Monday, April 29, 2013

Confidence and practice technique - April 2013 Lesson

Last Saturday at my lesson two themes emerged: confidence and practice technique.

I have been learning the hymn "All Creatures of Our God and King" for several months. I choose to start my lesson with this piece. I was nervous as it had been 6 weeks since my last lesson. Also, I had lost a week of practice time due to illness. When I am nervous, my playing sounds nervous. My first couple of attempts did not go so well. Finally, Michael told me to focus. He knew I could do it. Then I played the hymn much better. I need to learn to have confidence going into to a lesson as eventually as I will need confidence once I am ready for public performances. 

Practice Technique:
We ended the lesson with Fugue from Prelude and Fugue in C Major (BWV 553) which I have been working on for over a year. I am still having issues with holding a consistent tempo (speed). I slow down for harder sections and speed up for easier sections. This is not a new problem and has been discussed at many lessons. The problem is with how I practice. I keep doing the same things over and over again which ingrain the wrong habits into my brain. 

Albert Einstein described insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". 

To combat this insanity Michael suggested I practice in small sections, only 3 or 4 measures at a time, alternating with and without the metronome. I should also record myself so that I can get better at critiquing myself and hearing my problems on my own. 

Overall, the lesson went well and it was a joy to play the pipe organ. The picture below was taken from the balcony just before my lesson began. As you may remember, the organ at Trinity Episcopal Church is in the balcony. This is the organist's view of the nave from the balcony.
Organist's view from balcony at Trinity Episcopal Church


Monday, April 8, 2013

Would you stop for a free concert?

Would you stop for a free concert? Probably not. Does that answer surprise you?

During Lent this year, I attended all but one of the noon organ recitals at First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor
This sign was placed on the sidewalk advertising the free organ concert. The church is in downtown Ann Arbor and there is plenty of foot traffic. I don't know if any pedestrians stopped in because of this sign but at least they were aware of the opportunity. 

A few months ago through organist Katherine Crosier's blog, I learned of Joshua Bell and the subway experiment. Joshua Bell is a talented violinist who plays to sold out concert halls. The experiment occurred at a subway station in Washington, D.C. in 2007 in coordination with the Washington Post. One morning he played his violin for about 45 minutes. Very few people actually stopped to listen. The article states "In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look. " I encourage you to read the Washington Post article. Also, check out this video which has over 4 million views. It is less than 3 minutes and shows Joshua at the subway.

Would I have stopped? Probably not. But now, after reading about this experiment, I will be more likely to stop and listen to the music. How about you?