Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My first lapse

As I already wrote, my first two back-to-memory experiences weren't that good. To get back to memory, I decided to choose a short, binary form movement. Since I was already preparing the complete Bach violin sonatas for a radio appearance with Rachel Barton Pine, I decided to memorize the third movement of the sixth sonata. I had never planned on playing that movement from memory in the performance with Rachel, but I figured that it would serve as an isolated test piece. (The third movement of the sonata is for harpsichord alone.)

I programmed the movement as a postlude for a church service. That was my first mistake. (I'll write more about this later, but, in short, playing from memory at the end of a long morning of rehearsals and accompanying is not the best way to do this--especially the first time!) My second mistake was that I had only prepared the work by repetition. I hadn't even studied the score away from the instrument. I had, in fact, applied none of the memorization techniques I had learned many years ago. 

And so, at the end of the church service (but thankfully after the radio broadcast had ended), I played the first A section...then the second...then the B section...and then, probably owing something to the Inner Game, I lost it in the second B section (or was it the first?). I managed to noodle my way out of the mess, and I think I ended this E minor movement in C Major!

I immediately knew that I should have known better, and I immediately knew that I had only committed this work to tactile memory, a type of memory that will invariably fail when it's all you've got. (Incidentally, the movement was perfect during my own practice.)

Making the situation a little more intimidating was the fact that I had already planned on playing this single movement from memory on a 30' recital less than a week later! (I had originally thought that this was an easy commitment, since the rest of the 30' recital had contemporary works on it, and there's some tradition of playing "new" music from score even if the "old" music on the program is memorized.)

And so, I had about three practice days to figure out how I was going to proceed...