Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A few latter-day lapses

By the end of 2012, I had become a pretty successful play-from-memory kind of guy. One of my top achievements had been to play Poulenc's Concert champĂȘtre with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra--from memory, of course. I continued to perform recitals here and there, constantly developing and applying my memorization skills.

I still have lapses, and, I'm afraid, they're still going to happen. But, as I wrote earlier, the nature of the lapse and the recovery are very different from what I first experienced.

Last summer, I was playing three Scarlatti sonatas on a program in which I also accompanied a mezzo-soprano. Before playing the sonatas, I mentioned to the audience that the final one could be played really fast, especially if I got cocky. Unfortunately, I did get cocky after the first two sonatas went really well. I started the third sonata way too fast, got lost, started again--also too fast--, got lost again, and then addressed the audience, saying that I guess I had become cocky. So I started a final time and successfully completed the sonata at a reasonable tempo.

But was this a memory lapse? Had I simply started too fast?

Two months ago, I was playing in a church service the day after an evening recital at the same church. (This was a gratis payback for use of the church the night before.) The evening recital had gone really, really well, but, when playing the postlude for the Sunday service, I got caught in a loop. No one knew that I had done this, but I knew...and I had to play the same piece on a recital program later that day. 

Yes, it was fatigue; it was sitting through a church service and having to play on the spot (something I mentioned earlier); it was lack of concentration; it was...still a lapse.

With all of these lapses and difficulties, WHY in the world do I continue to push for performing from memory? Remember: I'm a harpsichordist. I don't have to

This is a blog about how to memorize, but I think it's time for a brief discussion of why



Here's my Poulenc performance: