Over the past months, I found a wide range of different kinds of music to try out and play: some relaxed, some catchy and rhythmic and some with a real exciting epic sound. Remembering all of it without having to practice would be an amazing ideal-especially if it’s your favourite music that you just want to keep while finding more.
Every so often I return to anything that I played, even if it was 7 years ago, just to keep it fresh. Over a time building up on repertoire means having less time to go through all of it. When we return to something, we know what it sounds like but somehow the body just feels like it’s rusty and unfamiliar with what’s going on. I found this to be frustrating when it’s music you know very well and enjoy more than that.
I returned to a Chopin Piano Concerto recently. It has quite a lot of long chains of notes that can be the most challenging keeping all the notes fluid and clear. I was used to seeing the piece as one whole finished product.
Now I know I had to disassemble it to get it back to working again. I took everything just by section. Completely avoiding the temptation to move on the next. I was treating every section like a separate piece all by itself.
The next bit was the fingers. I avoid using the metronome at all costs at this point because it feels more relaxed going at your own pace rather than running to catch up to the ticking sound. Patterns are crucial as it’s the fastest way our brain can process things more quickly. Any patterns I take and put breaks in between. Then any physical side of things like starting phrases, I would over-exaggerate everything just to get the body to pick up and clear on the physical movement.
The whole time I would stay very stubbornly focused on one thing rather than a multitude of things at once. Just fingers- or just dynamics or just phrasing. I find it much easier- and productive to do one thing at a time than multitask.
We can leave the body to do that!