In An interesting month I talked about how my practice routine got all discombobulated when I went to IHS and then prepared for my daughter’s wedding. The first two days of practice after almost a week off during my trip back from IHS were terrible but then as I played more things slowly got better. Once I got back to my usual schedule (about 5 days ago) all of a sudden I played a lot better.
In fact, I’m still playing a lot better. Really. I’m even surprising myself. Exercises that I was stumbling through are going well. I had my monthly lesson with Scott Bacon and I nailed (well almost nailed) both exercise #4 in the Singer Embouchure book and the Kopprash #2 exercise. Scott said it was the best he ever heard me play. He was actually smiling. Not only did I get the notes right, I got the dynamics right, the articulation right, the rhythm dead on with the metronome, and I played the exercises musically. That’s the biggie.
At my lesson with Lynn two weeks ago we started working on Canciones by Paul Basler. I love this piece. At my lesson last Wednesday we cleaned up some rhythm issues I was having. I think Lynn will be surprised by how well it’s going at my lesson tomorrow. I’m learning it really quickly for me. I can play the first movement along with the CD nicely. I can actually start it and not stop and need to do it over again. Actually this is true for everything I’ve been working on this week. Just this alone is a big breakthrough for me. I am taking my time and thinking about what I am going to play, taking a breath along with the metronome before I start to play, and it works every time.
I’ve been working on Strauss 1 for months. This week I can play almost all of it and not butcher it along the way. Many of the 16th note passages that I couldn’t even play slowly a few weeks ago I can play now up to tempo. Sure there are still a few rough spots but only a few, not half the piece.
So what’s changed? I have to attribute this improvement to my month of mostly non-practice. Maybe I’m wrong and this is all a big coincidence but I can’t think of anything else that would cause such a big change. And I agree that not practicing wouldn’t be my first thought about how to get better (I think I got the double negatives right in that sentence.) I think I can say that what I would call a really good day a month ago is now what I would call a fairly bad day. Progress!