April 18th, 2009: Yesterday afternoon’s practice session was better than the morning’s session. Not good yet, but better. Instead of working on my usual set of scales and etudes, I just played through some of the pieces I am working on. I also did some work on tonguing, something my teacher was harping on at yesterday’s lesson.
I didn’t play anything really high – nothing higher than Ab above the staff which is not a problem for me. I sometimes have problems with A and Bb. High C happens, but it’s rare except for my first set of scales for the day. My frustration is not with range but with poor attacks and sloppy slurs and in particular gurgly note to note slurs. Those drive me crazy because I know I can play them correctly. If I’m having a good day maybe I’ll gurgle a few notes here and there but most of what I play is clean. It’s the reverse on bad days. My interval slurs – thirds and up – are decent. If I miss one of those it’s more likely because I didn’t hear the interval correctly. I think my problem with note to note slurs is a lack of concentration causing a relaxation of air support. Just because you know what the issues are doesn’t mean that you can fix it right away. Aaargh.
I decided to record yesterday’s practice sessions. What a humbling experience that was. My teacher keeps saying that I’m better than I think I am. Well, that was not the case yesterday. I was definitely worse than I think I am. My ego took a beating. Maybe the morning was so bad because I was nervous. I knew that recorder was on. It shouldn’t bother me and I need to find a way to forget that the recorder is on.
I think recording pratice sessions is important. Not too often, maybe once a month. Between laptops and those handheld recorders it’s an easy thing to do. It is the only surefire way to track improvement. I probably should have stopped recording once I realized how badly I was playing. Yes, I know I just said I was nervous but I really do think it was more than that and the bad playing exacerbated the nervousness.
Today’s another day and I have to put the bad day behind me. It’s a busy day for me so putting in two hours is probably not in the cards. Maybe that’s a good thing – we’ll see.