June 25, 2012 at 1:10 AMLessons in the summer months are rare. This summer, I have 3 lessons before the fall season. Three very small lessons in which to get advice on how to go about tackling Beethoven's Grosse Fugue.
Lesson #1 was an overview of the piece: pitfalls to watch for, practice techniques, fingering and bowing advice. Lesson #2 had me questioning my whole approach on studying new pieces.
I struggled on two particular passages: one with string crossing that skipped strings at a fast tempo, and another one that is in G-flat(-ish) during my practice sessions at home. I had them marked and ready to work on at my next lesson.
Lesson day came, and I was blown away by the feedback my teacher gave me. She very emphatically told me that the music drives the technique, not the other way around. In other words, if I put more focus on the phrase and music as a whole, the technique will follow pretty much well on its own. She's been telling me this for months, but never quite so bluntly.
I had a difficult time believing this was indeed true, until she helped me look at the measures that were giving me problems in a musical way. Once I got the gist of the phrase, my technique did indeed seem to do what it needed to do to make it sound clean, albeit at a much slower tempo. Could it possibly be so simple?
Over the weekend I took those passage and ignored technique and put my focus on the musical phrase instead. I started at a very slow tempo and ever so slowly increased it until it was up to tempo. What she told me was indeed true. There is a method to the madness when put into the context of the musical phrase. Simply thinking of a passage in a musical way really does make the technique tend to do what it needs to do without a tremendous amount of effort.
Who would have thought it could be so simple?
Also, as an analogy, why do I always speak better (more convincingly), especially in a foreign language, when I have clearer idea what I want to express? Don’t know how this magic works but like Steven suggested, our body can do a lot more than we would like to believe.
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