Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 5, Session 2

Some Exploration of my Six Month Goal

Despite Dr. Schuller's advice, my goal of six months of consecutive daily practice is a little arbitrary. Here are some problems that I perceive:

Schuller's advice referred to "brutally hard work" not just daily practice. Daily practice is simply what's expected of the professional musician. I am working to affect a habit that I should have acquired much much earlier in my musical career. Some days I will work harder than others. I'm not sure that "brutally hard work" is a healthy thing that I want to strive for, but daily concentrated practice, continually building upon the previous day's work, is.

Six months is Schuller's minimum. He actually says six to twelve months, but I have no idea what my daily life will be like in a year, so when my six months are almost over, I'll look at this again.

Even with my alterations, this goal may be unobtainable for me for several reasons. In less than two months I will be moving to a new town. In that time I need to be earning as much money as I can to prepare for my move. After the move I'll be rushing around finding a new job and developing a new social network. I'll be learning the rules of a new place. In a little over two months I 'll be starting a degree at a new school. There will be days filled with travel and new school orientation. My life is going to change in huge ways that I can't imagine.

With careful planning there shouldn't be a day when I won't be able to sit down with my instrument and at least play my scales, but that assumes that I can plan every moment of my life. You never know when there will be sickness, family emergencies, or even unexpected opportunities.

If I miss a day, the project is not scrapped. But if I miss a day I'd better have a damned fine reason. And it had better be followed by a lengthy journal entry about those reasons and perhaps a reevaluation of my goal.

Session 2

Started the session by running D in thirds with no problem. My problem in warmup sessions is entirely concentration. I don't know any way to work on that besides continuing to practice daily.

Longtones: D

I have a love and hate relationship with this note. Through years of careless practice I have trained my ear to hear D incorrectly in the highest and lowest octave. When I feel that the note is in tune and at its most resonant, it is almost always a quarter-tone sharp. Ouch.

I chose to start with D because I had already warmed up on a D scale, and because I know it is my most problematic note on the bassoon. Though I set out with a very clear plan of how to play long tones, I ended up revising that plan in the practice room. I ended up playing half notes instead of quarters at 80bpm and I did eight counts up and down instead of twelve. I think I may have remembered the original exercise incorrectly, or maybe I just needed to modify it for my needs. Either way, any long tone I play with an ear toward intonation, response, and growth in dynamic range will be helpful.

I was very unhappy with my reed's response tonight. I've scraped on it every time I've played it and it doesn't seem to be getting better. I think I may leave it to settle for a few days and work on another tomorrow. I would have happily worked on another tonight, but the end of my time to play in my comfortable home (without changing out of my sweatpants) was coming too quickly. I made it through four long Weissenborn etudes before time was up, but my chops were so tired that I might not have done more had time not run out.

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