I’ll be practicing soon, so it’s time to put together a plan. These are the things I’m working on this week:

-Scales ~ C, G, D, A, E, d, a ~ 4 octaves with 4 octave arpeggios and cadences. Minor scales are in 3 modes (natural, melodic and harmonic). Since I talked to JB at my last lesson about my desire to play hymns in a gospel style, I realize that I need to strengthen my technique, specifically in the area of scales, chords, arpeggios. I need to be able to do them in every key ~ in my sleep. I’m working my way through the circle of fifths, but have been taking my time. I think I need to spend more time on this daily, and get them under my belt and able to play all keys with confidence, with no hesitation. I’m good with the keys I’ve been working on, but I haven’t been adding new scales every week, and I need to step this up.

-Bach Minuet (from the Notebook for W.F. Bach) ~ a very simple piece, only one page. Memorize.

-Reverie (Randall) ~ I’ve had trouble playing a song perfectly the first time. After I play it a few times, it sounds good. Every day I have to repeat this with each song. So at my lesson I play a song, and it sounds like it needs a lot of work. If I play it a few times, it sounds much better. However, there isn’t time to play each song several times until it sounds good. This is an experiment JB suggested to see if it helps me to play a song well the first time I play it (for the day ~ not to be confused with sight reading).

-Day 1 – read piece through 3 times away from the piano, then play it once

-Day 2 – read piece through 3 times away from the piano, then play it once

-Day 3 – read piece through 2 times away from the piano, then play it once

-Day 4 – read piece through 1 time away from the piano, then play it once

The idea is that by the end of the week I’ll be able to look through the piece, then be able to play it well without having to repeat it several times.

-How Great is Our God/How Great Thou Art ~ I’ve had How Great is Our God for 2 weeks. It’s an arrangement I like from the book “Worship Together, Piano Solo Favorites.” This week JB asked me to integrate How Great Thou Art. Find a place that works to insert How Great Thou Art (chorus), then pick back up in to How Great is Our God. I’ve never done anything like this before, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. How Great Thou Art is just a lead sheet with melody notes and chord symbols. I’ve found that in order to play it well, I’ll need to memorize How Great Thou Art. The lead sheet is helpful, but after playing with it a few times, I realized that I’m using different chord inversions each time I play it. That’s fine, but when I look at the lead sheet, I try to play it the same way each time. When I look away, I’m more able to play by feel, and be more free with it (not by “hand feel”, but by what I feel in my head/ears). Does that make sense? So that’s the plan.

-The Lord’s Prayer ~ by Albert Hay Malotte, duet Arr. by Eric Steiner, published by Schirmer. I’m playing the Secondo part. It’s very beautiful, and I have pretty much no experience with duet/ensemble playing. I’m practicing this with a metronome so I can get used to keeping an even tempo, which is essential when playing with a partner. Especially focus on the harmonic triplet arpeggios with both hands. Also the Poco meno mosso section (For Thine is the kingdom…..forever), which has bass octaves with block chord triplets in the left hand against the melody in the right hand. I need to work on playing more smoothly the jump from the bass octaves to the chords.

-sight reading ~ playing through a hymnal

-next lesson I think we’re going to talk some more about playing hymns in gospel style

NOW ~ time to hit the bench!

UPDATE: I played for 2 hours, 45 minutes. I thought the Minuet was ready to memorize. I played it with the metronome, and found that there are several spots where I slow down and look at my hands. Then I speed back up for the areas where I’m more confident. So I’ll spend a day or two playing it with the metronome, and isolating the weak areas until I can get them up to speed. Everything else went well. The piece needing the most work is The Lord’s Prayer. The sections with octaves that jump up to chords played in triplets are pretty rough, as are the two hand harmonic arpeggios. I knew that already, just became even more aware of it today. All in all, a good practice. I may get in another hour this evening.

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