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Mendy Smith

Arpeggios, Allemanda and Public Performances

October 18, 2007 at 7:16 AM

I got my music theory lesson for the week when working on the arpeggios during my "warm-up" - Major and Minors, 6ths, 4ths, 7ths and dimished 7ths. After all that manual analysis, I threatened to develop a software program to automatically identify the chord - so much easier than sitting there counting! My teacher responded by saying that if I learned this stuff I could recognize it by simply looking at the music. He's right. If I can do impedance calculations in my head this should be easy once I learn the fundamentals. Why oh Why didn't I learn this when I was younger?!?!

I completed my "graduation performance" of the 5th Suite Prelude tonight. I had a few false starts in the beginning (stage fright?), and had to work very hard at not rushing the second half of the movement. There were a few wrong notes, and I mean WRONG - like playing a G instead of an F :::sheepish grin::: The "Mendy Ornament" brought on a round of chuckles between my teacher and I to the point where I had to back-track a few measures and restart that bit again with a straight face. I recieved a "passing" grade and a few compliments to boot!

I'm 100% convinced that I actually DO play better at home with only my cats as an audience than I do in front of anyone else and that this is not just a false sense of pride. After playing an Elegie for my grandfather's funeral and nearly freezing and having to force myself to continue through the end of the piece, to tonight's "graduation performance", I think I can pinpoint this phenomena down to stage fright in a solo performance (with or wihtout accompianment. I do NOT have this problem playing in a group setting of 3 or more people - ensemble and orchestra... Funny thing, public speaking, even in front of the executive staff or hundreds of company employees does not elicit the same reaction. Something to think about....

So, now onto Allemanda. I spent several hours over the weekend analyzing this piece to determine bowings and fingerings and a general style of playing it. The bowings that I came up with only required minimal changes by my teacher tonight - yipee!!!!! This was the first time I've attempted to do this on my own without any help. The "magic pencil" was only used twice! It was very satisfying to receive confirmation that I have learned how to practically apply what he is teaching me. By George! I think she's got it! We spent quite a bit of time on 2 chords that I was having much difficulty figuring out how to execute. We referenced other editions of the Suites until coming up with a few options to try. This really is Bach 201!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on October 18, 2007 at 1:17 PM
My level of violin/viola performance anxiety has always tracked very well with my level of fear of public speaking. When I worked on getting over my public speaking anxiety in order to prepare for my PhD thesis defense, the work I did there carried over into my violin performance. I think this was due to my isolating and working on a number of specific issues such as breathing (or in my case, realizing I holding my breath, followed by hyperventilating, and stopping doing that), where I put my eyes, and how prepared I was. It helps me a lot to memorize the order of my slides if it's PowerPoint, for example, just as it helps to put conscious effort into committing a piece of music to memory.

Since you're already comfortable with public speaking (and I'm jealous of that comfort!), could you use what you've learned there, or what you do naturally, and carry it over to your viola performance?

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