Thursday, May 30, 2013

My second lapse...four days later!

By the title of this post, you've now figured out that my attempts to fix what went wrong with my first lapse were not entirely successful. On concert day, I proceeded to play the 30' recital with all the confidence I could muster, but, once again, I had a lapse...in just about the same place as before.

But how did I try to fix the problem in three practice days?

First, I knew that my first lapse was based on relying solely on tactile memory. Second, I knew that, once I had had the lapse, I had no where to turn to, other than the start of the A or B section or an improvisatory exit. (Ugh. You try improvising in the style of Bach after you've just played real Bach. Poor Bach.)

So I did what I should have done in the first place: I created landmarks in the score--in other words, rehearsal letters, just like in an orchestral score. I strategically placed these at important cadential or phrase points, just about every eight bars or so. With these, I could go forward or backward to a landmark should I have a lapse. 

For my three practice days, I played from these landmarks and tried to make sure I could start from them cold. I even forced myself to have mistakes and lapses so that I could find my way to the landmarks. Everything worked really well in the practice room!

My recital began with a contemporary work, played from score. Then came the "memorized" Bach movement. And then came a premiere, also played from score. I remember building a fair amount of anxiety during the first piece on the program. By the time I pulled away the music desk for the Bach, I was quite shaken. After all, the Bach had not gone well just a few days before. More so, the venue was pretty full, namely because I was playing a premiere, and that added to my anxiety.

I started playing the Bach. I felt the heat of the audience's eyes on my face, and, I'm sure, my ears turned bright red. But it was going well! I made it through the first A, then the second, then the B, then...oops, I'm back at that place where I messed up on Sunday...let's go back to the start of the B...and here goes, all is going well, oops...where's the landmark?, what's the landmark?, what's the key?...damn! time to improvise...let's try to end this thing in E minor. Ouch.

All told, the worst part about this was that I was so rattled from this lapse experience that I didn't play the premiere nearly as well as I could have or should have. Sorry, Larry.

But I had prepared so well! What was missing? I clearly was doing something wrong, and I really thought I had been practicing hard enough. But is just wasn't enough. Did I simply need to practice more? How much time is this memorization thing going to take?!