Saturday, August 14, 2010

Visualize First

I learned something important this week as a result of band practice and the Steven Isserlis concert:

Visualize *first*, then play.

The key to playing well is to come up with a definite concept of what you want the next thing you're going to play to sound & feel like. The next important thing is to not accept exceptions to that vision while practicing. One thing that goes with this is having no excess - every movement, every note is directly, immediately, linked to the note.

Watching Steven Isserlis, one of the things I realized is that part of his technique is a freedom that comes from dexterity/agility ... nothing is slow for him ... it is all very quickly connected and well planned. He is one of the only classical musicians who I feel is telling a story when I watch, as opposed to playing a piece. I also think that a lot of his freedom comes from never looking down when he plays, allowing him to listen and think ahead rather than be stuck in the present.

It was interesting to see him from the front row and to see how much he sways/moves (reminding me a lot of Jacqueline DuPre), and also to see the similarity (and differences) of his left hand techinque to hers, as well as to hear how the tapping of the notes with his left hand (on just about every note).

In other news, I am really struggling to regain my musical drive (ever since my father died) ... when I play the cello, it's the only thing I want to do, but when I'm not playing, I have almost no desire to pick it up. I think the one reason for this is that I'm not in multiple ensembles with music that is incredibly difficult - just my band right now & I feel pretty comfortable with our music.

That being said, the level of my playing has increased incredibly and my practice is now generally oriented around analytical imitation of a great cellist or analytical practicing of solo rep. Both are very helpful.

In general, I am doing things right ... I just need to push myself to do more of them and to go further with them. I need to start really chewing through the standard rep. or at the very least the student rep, so I can develop a really reliable & proficient technique.

That's all for now ... so happy that I just wrote a blog entry for once...

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