Day 56, Experiment

Practice: 1.5, rehearsal: 3, work: 2, concerts seen: 1. Today was my parents’ last day in town so I spent a lot of my spare time with them. Aside from local dining we saw the AFO play Holst’s The Planets, a favorite of mine. Tonight was more West Side Story- I was able to sneak my parents in to the rehearsal and they had a blast.

During the brief hour and a half I had to myself to practice I thought about advice I’ve heard from several people, and that is to treat practice time like being in a laboratory. There’s this deceptively difficult / deceptively easy clarinet solo in WSS at the beginning of the Cha-Cha that I’m itching to get *just right*. When I played it in time, the style was wrong. But if I tried making it more gentle and eleganza, the tempo would drag! So in comes the metronome. I tried it 20 clicks too fast to see if I could get the style right AND maintain the tempo. As I perfected it, I’d take the metronome down to 15 clicks too fast, etc. Practicing the passage in an extreme tempo made the challenge extreme as well, which made returning to the actual tempo feel easy.

Other laboratory-like experiments that come to mind, besides extreme tempi, is extreme style. This is one that I think gets neglected most often. I tried this passage at EXTREME eleganza, what I thought might be too much. I listened back to the recording I made, and it was only perceptively more. By no means was it too much. This made me realize how much more flexibility I want in terms of style. If what I thought was the difference between 3 and 10 was really more like the difference between 3 and 5, how do all my excerpts sound when played back to back? Like they’re all written by the same composer, probably. Going to try to work this in to my practice, for everything. Extremes of dynamics, tempi, and style.

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