Monday, April 30, 2012

old challenges

Thanks for all the supportive comments on that last post, everyone! I want to point out that I'm hardly the first person to bring fresh, healthy snacks to the classroom. In fact, there is a larger Healthy Snack Initiative that provides the entire school with fresh, local food about once a month, and I've helped out with distributing that in the past. I just wish I'd committed to bringing healthy snacks to Daniel's class earlier in the year; they certainly could have used it!


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During my one hour this afternoon while both kids were at school (these early release days are killing me...), I spent some time reading through piano music. I've agreed to play for a benefit concert to raise funds for Anya's preschool. Another parent is a classically trained violist, so I'll be accompanying him on a few things, as well as playing some solo pieces. At this point I only have a month left to prepare, so I won't be playing anything memorized, nor will I be able to learn anything new. Stuck inside my book of Schubert Impromtus was a copy of the poster I had for my degree recital when I did my first M.M. ten years ago. I have no idea why I kept the poster, or why, for that matter, it was in the Schubert book, seeing as the program didn't include any Schubert Impromptus.

The program did include a couple of the late Brahms Stücke, though, which I had completely forgotten about - an ethereal and chromatic Intermezzo from op. 117, and the Romanze from op. 118, which is sublimely beautiful and entirely content. Can I still play these, I wondered? So I dug up the score and read through them. I'm rusty, to be sure, and some of those harmonies are so complex and surprising.

What really brought on the nostalgia, though, was seeing the handwriting of the professor I studied with my first two years at the music school. He'd written in some notes about articulation and voicing and, of course, some really bizarre fingering suggestions.

Those days seem so long ago. I haven't performed any solo repertoire in years, and boy is it different from collaborative playing. Of course, I've played tons of recitals as an accompanist and chamber musician, but it's not the same.  With solo playing, you have to find all the energy and musicality within yourself. There's no one else there to take cues from or communicate with, no other instrument's sound to respond to. I don't want to say one is harder than the other, though it's obvious which I'm more comfortable with!

I always knew I wouldn't turn out to be a concert pianist. So many other pianists out there can out-practice and out-technique me (I know "technique" isn't really a verb, but whatever.) How many hundreds of people graduate from conservatories every year able to practice eight hours  day and bang out the Rachmaninoff concertos like it's no big deal? It used to bother me that I'm not one of them, but not anymore. I have other talents.

Still, I think it would be a good exercise for me to try and work up some solo repertoire, even if I have no plans to perform it (other than this benefit, of course.) It's important to keep the chops in shape, for one thing, and for another, there's just so much great music out there. Great music is why I wanted to be a professional musician, after all.

So I'm going to play one, possibly both, of those Brahms pieces on the benefit recital, along with some other, shorter pieces from way back when. (There will be children in the audience, so I can't play anything too long or too heavy or they'll get restless.) I have a feeling it's going to be a challenge. That's okay. Challenge is good.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you have the opportunity to perform, even if the profits don't go to you personally.
Mom

Scott said...

Hope you have a wonderful performance! I love those Brahms pieces.

I think schools and musicians in general often do a bad job of representing how most people actually make music out in the world. Like, there are a few people who are professional concert pianists on the world stage. And there are accompanists and coaches and the like.

But there are also so many wonderful regional musicians that get overlooked and forgotten about when these discussions come up. There are pianists who play in local venues, and do some playing in various situations within a 2-hour radius or something... I think it's a darn shame that more people don't see that as "real" music-making. I have so many friends who teach piano lessons and perform for super-appreciative audiences all the time, and that's how they make a living, and it brings amazing music to people around the world.

So I just wanted to add that wherever your musical life takes you, it's a valuable and beautiful musical experience to bring Brahms to your community. Nothing about that is really "less" than full-time solo concert artists, in my opinion.

P.S. You rock!

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