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Emily Grossman

Of Muses and Metronomes

January 19, 2008 at 10:15 AM


My muses have left me alone for some time now. I wanted them to help me learn Camille Saint Saens’ sonata #1, but the last little presto passage there seems completely unsurmountable; I just haven’t the speed to play such things. (And, to add insult to injury, Mr. Sassmanhous has assigned it a paltry five on a scale of one to ten.)

In the past when tackling challenges, I used to draw upon a bit of inspiration, imagination, or other secret incantation. But now it seems I’m all alone, just me and my metronome. I waited for a while to see if the motivation would find me again, but after sitting at the base of the mountain and watching it remain as it was, unbudging and ever towering, it became obvious that it wasn’t going to climb itself.

I could sit here and mope about how I can’t, or I could take a step. At least the metronome will give me a reference point for the start and end of each day. I’ll take it slow, and think about efficiency and muscle coordination, and try not to feel like a basset hound in a pack of greyhounds chasing a ridiculous mechanical rabbit.

Who knows, maybe I won’t summit, but maybe I’ll find something else of value along the way.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on January 19, 2008 at 10:03 PM
Good luck with it. I am sure you will do it fine in the end. But, remember that the important thing in life is the journey.
From Bill Busen
Posted on January 19, 2008 at 10:49 PM
But that finale is SO WORTH IT!

(Hint) I bet you can play any two consecutive notes as fast as you need, right?

From Jasmine Reese
Posted on January 19, 2008 at 10:58 PM
I am going to learn this sonata in the summer. If oyu are having trouble, I do not think I will be able to do it at all
From Emily Grossman
Posted on January 20, 2008 at 1:44 AM
Bill, thanks for the hint. I did have a teacher once who made me practice all the Galamian rhythm drills. It's a good concept. My last teacher brought me the idea of mentally grouping notes as singular actions, and then gradually bring the energies together (although I think he did a better job of explaining than I just did).

Jasmine, my forte is musicality and intonation, but playing at high speeds has always been a weakness of mine. Everyone has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Who knows, maybe you'll have fingers like lightning! ("They never strike the same place twice" is what my old college teacher would add.) Let me know how it goes, and share any good tips you get.

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