Music Learning Notes (Classical Guitar) 17/10/2020

Well, I’m eschewing social media for the rest of the month (hopefully longer, too much to do and I’m wasting so much time. On the other hand, it does help me feel less isolated, hmm), so I’m going to be babbling more about my music-learning here, I suppose. These thoughts and feels have to go SOMEWHERE. Plus, it’s beneficial for me to keep track of my own progress.

Minor updates for friends reading this: I removed my videos from twitter. They kept getting truncated and twitter’s hell on my nerves. Also, ironically, the better I get, the more I cringe at the videos I post. But like these blog posts, it’s really beneficial for me to play knowing I’ll be watched. This has fixed a bit of my performance anxiety (as have my classes, ironically, given my nerves). So, now that I have figured out unlisted videos on YouTube, newer recordings will be posted on these posts. I doubt anyone (apart from aforementioned friends) will be watching them but just the act of putting it out there will force me to improve, I guess. A good visual documentation of process and hopeful improvement?

I know there’s improvement though because things that used to be hard are now not so hard. Case in point, after I practiced all my exam pieces and my assigned pieces for the day, I took out the Sor book transcribed by Segovia which I found so difficult before. Mostly because since this morning I’ve been earwormed by Estudio 1 (Op 6 #8). And I was struggling with it between February-March. Well. Guess what. I played through it. And then I played through it another two times. And then I played Estudio 2 (Op 33 #13) and Estudio 3 (Op 6 #2). Not well, but wow, that’s one musical block broken. The fingering issues for Op 6 #8 I resolved by making a half-barre for that particular (haha) bar but then I tried it again without a barre and it was possible. After all, I have been doing that STRETCH for the Preludium, and even more tricky finger work for the Daw piece. So. It was do-able. Though the later pieces in the book are beyond my level.

Other things played:

Exam pieces! Preludium, Dedicatoria, Memories of Summer, Inveraray Castle, and Country Etude which is delighting me right now. I do think that the only really classical pieces there are Preludium and Inveraray Castle. The rest are lovely but they belong to other genres, I feel. Maybe I am wrong. So I am solidly including those two for my exam pieces but need to choose between Memories of Summer, Dedicatoria and Country Etude. The problem is I don’t think I want an all-male line-up but that means I might need to bump Memories of Summer and….I really connect to this piece emotionally. I don’t know. It’s a huge dilemma for me, to be honest.

I also finished playing through Giuliani’s Allegretto today, twice! I enjoy this better than the Sor piece but it’s also not how I want to represent myself during exams. Will give the Piazzolla piece a whirl soon, now that my book of Piazzolla pieces transcribed by Ryan has arrived, along with my book of scales and exam exercises. Looking forward to the arrival of the ABRSM Grade 5 book as they have more classical pieces in there. Did secondguess myself again about whether I want to do ABRSM or Trinity but I think I’m staying the course. I can always maybe — if I get that far, sit for an ABRSM diploma later. I went through their syllabus and the Trinity exams are allowed as a prerequisite.

When I first got the Trinity book, I played through most of these pieces very casually and not completely but I feel I wasn’t as good then so I don’t feel I really PLAYED them with the understanding they deserved. Certainly I wasn’t feeling the pulse of it. But now I have, and the only pieces I haven’t tried yet are Skater’s Waltz, the duet and Holidays — okay, I tried the first line of it and then, like the ornery goth chick I am said, PASS! Nope. Anyway, because my eyes are bigger than my stomach, I’m voraciously looking at the Grade 6 syllabus and trying to talk myself out of getting that. Just being able to play pieces doesn’t mean you can play them WELL. And it’s better for me to stay the course and start at Grade 5. Though some days when I am feeling down I wonder if my playing is good enough for Grade 5.

I also played my teacher’s piece around 5-6 times because I’m working on both LH and RH fingering (still not so sure about some of it), the very clear phrasing notation and figuring out dynamics. Obsessed about dynamics because these markers have been SUPER helpful for me to manage my synaesthesia when it comes to performance. Ditto phrasal markers. Keeps me on the straight and narrow, so to speak.

Lagrima! and Adelita! Gave both a whirl today. My work with pulls and hammer-ons using the exercise that teacher said I have to do everyday (or at least that is what it sounded like and I can be ridiculously obedient sometimes — when I’m not being a rebel) has made Adelita! somewhat manageable but the real triumph is that scales and working with EMaj has assured that this time rememorizing Lagrima, I won’t forget what goes where. I love this piece so much. It makes me think about Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana. It has that kind of hiraeth feel to it that really speaks to me and which is why I love that novel so much.

Oh, and I worked a bit with Clair De Lune again. Getting a bit more comfortable with it and playing Debussy soothes that hungry beast inside of me.

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A source of delight yesterday, btw, on a really awful day when I was told my stitches could not be removed till next week, was put back on strong antibiotics and the pain of my newly growing toenail caused a need for painkillers was — new sheet music! Not just collecting those two books, but discovering that the wonderful Roxanne Elfasci had released Arabesque #1 for the Classical Guitar. Her own transcription of it. I bought it so fast and left a fervent thank you in French on her website hahaha like I can actually play it.

Listen to this glory. What a Goddess!

Just listen to that!

It’s my dream come true. This was the first Debussy piece I ever listened to. The one that set my synapses on fire. But — I have looked at the notation and tried to play the first three bars. Beyond me right now. But I am patient. I am getting better. My average practice/norm now is 3-4 hours a day broken up into sessions. And it’s one of the biggest reasons behind my improvement (well, I also have an awesome teacher right now but I think I should give myself some credit as well, I’ve been working really hard!). So, worth a revisit next year?

I have not taken a day off from playing CG since I returned from the hospital. That was really important. I’m glad I requested for class two days later. Because when I had my hysteroscopy in 2017, I wound up not playing CG properly again until January of this year. I can’t afford that to happen again. I’ll take another day off after my next class. The Daw piece needs finessing. I’m relatively more confident about the Stachak and Ryan pieces but the Daw piece, ahhh. That’s the kind of piece I dream of playing for exams.

Someday — Domeniconi’s Koyunbaba. And Arabesque #1. But for now, I get Clair de Lune for my reward piece.

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Other things I haven’t been playing: the Pumping Nylon exercises, the tremolo exercises (Castle’s On The Patio), and the two transcriptions of the Prelude to BWV 1007. I will return to them this weekend. It’s just that I have so many pieces I’m playing, I really can’t play all of them or I’ll be practicing 7 hours a day. Can’t do that, I’m also an active academic and I generally practice after I have done my academic tasks. Though I didn’t do enough academic work today because the antibiotics have had their effect, and my toe is hurting me. The surgeon did tell me it would hurt when the new toenail starts growing.

Also, re-imposed lockdown has not been good for my emotional health and hell on my nerves. I don’t really function well when extremely isolated, being that very peculiar thing — a very needy introvert. But, music has been helping me manage that. I’m calmer now because of it.

So that’s one good reason to keep practicing 3-4 hours a day 🙂