My Trinity exam sheet music books arrived last week and it was fantastic for my mental/emotional health. My brain fog lifted and I’m back to practising 2-4 hours a day. The downside is that my left hand is starting to hurt again so Tuesday is going to be a music rest day (while I finalise some pressing academic work) and I’m going to be spending most of the day wearing a wrist/hand guard. Probably time to invest in the kind of supportive hand/arm guards I see professional guitarists use. I also think I need a different kind of foot-rest or one of those newfangled braces to help hold my guitar in place and to fix my posture.
So far, I’ve cleared Le Petit Moulin by Saint-Saens. Still struggling a bit with the tempo and with smoothness of phrasing but I found practising with the metronome helped me quite a bit. For the Sarabande from Violin Partita #2 by Bach, I didn’t use the metronome because the piece requires dotted notes and a degree of ornamentation. Instead, I did the count. For the Minuet by Petzold, because Teacher #2 wanted me to play it faster, I used the metronome.
It amuses me that the teacher I ran away from (Teacher #3) was a devotee of the metronome while Teacher #2 (Officially the teacher I spent the most time learning from, given he taught me from 2004-2007) has an aversion to it. But, at least I learned something valuable from Teacher #3 that I can use in my practice sessions. It’s a pity, she was really proficient and competent, and had I stayed I would have learned a lot. But it wasn’t going to work so I think I made the right decision to cut my losses and go back to Teacher #2.
Her style would fit a younger student, I suppose. One who was used to that culture. I needed a different kind of teacher so it makes sense that I went back to the one I worked the best with, who gave me learner autonomy, who wasn’t so rigid but who also helped me fix a lot of errors. I just wish I didn’t have to forfeit that deposit money :/
A lot of my gripes about my past sessions with Teacher #2 stemmed from the fact that I was less assertive back in the day and wasn’t paying full attention to his music theory notes (I actually looked back and found the notes and he did give me A LOT, so mea culpa). Basically, communication mismatches can be fixed and it’s better to have a teacher you are comfortable with and can grow with, I think. I’m not training to be in some conservatory, and have zero desire to be a music educator. That said, I’d really like to do all three diplomas, so we’ll see how far I’ll get in this music journey. I have this burning passion to prove myself finally, once and for all, as a musician.
My goals remain being able to play for myself, and maybe for a limited amount of other people, to compose for chamber ensembles and orchestras at some point, and to incorporate my music learning into my literary and humanities scholarship — did you know I actually wanted to do that for my PhD?
I pitched my Tori Amos PhD idea to more than one graduate school. I got Professors who were intrigued with my project but worried because it was interdisciplinary and I’d need to get a music prof involved. But! Learning music this way will open different avenues of possibility for my humanities/literary scholarship. I’m quite excited about that.
For now! I have played through most of the Trinity Grade 5 book apart from the more fiddly pieces (and some are dead boring) and I roughly know what I want to play for next year’s exam. But! Some of the pieces are not in this book so I need to get the other books so I can give the Sagreras and Piazzolla a whirl.
From the Trinity book I have, I’m really taken by Stephen Daw’s Inveraray Castle (it’s deliciously impressionist and has a bit of the flavour of the Henri Saguet pieces my teacher was teaching me back in 2007 before I moved to Australia for my PhD). I also love love love Carmen Guzman’s Dedicatoria (I’ve played it so many times this week I hear it in my dreams).
Another piece I really enjoy (it has a bit of a folk guitar vibe to it) is Gary Ryan’s Memories of Summer. So those are the three pieces I’ve been playing with much relish this week.
And then there’s the John Dowland Preludium which, before I got the book, I thought I wanted to be one of my exam pieces. But! The Hegel arrangement has the third string tuned up to an F# and the fingering just baffled me. Teacher said he’d run me through it but I also think it’s better to avoid pieces with alternate tunings for exams because imagine having to tune your guitar in-between pieces? Pass! Pity, it’s such a beautiful piece.
So essentially, my most probable choices would be amongst these five:
- Maria Luisa — Julio Sagreras
- Inveraray Castle — Stephen Daw
- Dedicatoria — Carmen Guzman
- Vuelva al Sor — Astor Piazolla (arr. Gary Ryan)
- Memories of Summer — Gary Ryan
They’re all fairly contemporary pieces though so it doesn’t show sufficient range. I’m going to check out the Sor, Carcassi and Giuliani pieces first and see how I go. These composers are my very dear old musical friends from the time I was a baby classical guitar student in the `90s, but the pieces for Grade 5 are obviously more complex.
I tend to be better with phrasing and emotive playing with the Latin American and Spanish pieces though…also with Bach. I get very emotional with Bach — but there’s no Bach for Grade 5. I did notice my darling BWV1007 prelude is in Grade 7 but you know what, when I reach Grade 7 I might just pass on playing it.
I also got my piano books for Grade 1 and the Initial Grade, plus a couple of others are on their way but we’ve reached the stage where, my piano practice will need its own blog post.
Yes, I feel like a music student again, complete with music student angst about never being good enough and having problems ironing out my phrasing and timing. Though I think I nailed my rubato tonight. Or at the very least, Teacher was slightly less grumpy about my timing tonight 😛
Adelita! is still a pain in the ass but I’m getting warmer. I’m going to keep bugging Teacher about it next week but for now I need to work on my trills and get my slurs and tempo right. That’s this coming week’s quest when I’m not delivering on various academic deadlines. Including! Grading! Over a hundred things!
Today’s image is a photo I took of my Trinity Grade 5 book, with one of the overlays on Photoshop Express (I’m a Creative Cloud subscriber).