A little over a year ago, I made a little list of pieces that I was working and categorised them accordingly: performance-ready, developing, super new etc. It’s really interesting to go back and see how these lists develop over time, and how plans change. In the earlier list, I had put a few pieces in the “on my plate for the future” and it turns out I ended up learning only one of those! All the rest of my pieces have turned out to be dark horses. Things I found by coincidence and loved them, and then just decided to play them.
Here’s an updated list with my musical goals for the winter and spring. These include polishing up recently memorised pieces, reworking some older ones, and looking ahead to see what to learn next!
Mozart Sonata k.576: Allegro
Almost there, almost there… is what I have to keep telling myself with this one. In an earlier post on the learning process, I outlined the general stages of learning I go through with a new piece. Right now, I’m at the last stage with this one – which is pretty much playing it 500 times to get it all smoothed out, fine tuning interpretation and details. Mozart has so many details…. SO many details, and it can be quite taxing to keep track of the notes, the voices and his zillion details at brisk pace. Phew!
This was my first piece with Mozart and I absolutely loved the learning process. I can’t say it was easy because it certainly wasn’t – but it was….fun! And it almost feels like a bit of Mozart’s cheery personality accompanies you while you work through the difficult passages that always sound easy and end up having the most complex patterns. It’s as though there’s a wicked Mozart grin as one looks at the passage and goes… “oh….. OH…..” before readying oneself for a good hour of figuring it out.
Goal: Focus away from speed and onto the details and precision of playing, bring out a more smooth oil-like continuity in the piece.
Bach Partita in e minor, Toccata
This one is certainly one of those dark horses I mentioned. After having more or less memorised the first movement of the Mozart Sonata, I began the second one. What made sense logically somehow didn’t click for me in the playing. At the time, I found myself unable to work through and memorise the piece – it simply refused to stick. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last year, it’s to be flexible and know that things don’t always go according to plan. Well, the plan was to learn the second movement right off the bat and it clearly wasn’t working.
So I switched gears and looked at Bach – he’s always been fantastic at being a grounding influence for me and I just fell in love with the partita. The fugue portion of the Toccata was complex but awesome. So I decided to work on it about 2 months ago. It’s been amazing. There is no such thing, for me, as an “easy” Bach piece but this one just came more naturally than others. Or maybe I should say that I was really motivated to practice. Now, I’m almost done memorising the entire fugue portion. Hopefully, by the end of this month I’ll have memorised the piece and at that point, I can write out my thoughts on learning it.
Goal: Complete memorisation, work on bring out voices in the difficult areas, start thinking about interpretation.
Chopin Etude op. 10 no. 9
This is one that I’ve played since last year but it’s constantly growing and evolving in different ways. My fingers’ flexibility for this piece comes with a certain amount of maintenance and if I don’t play this often enough it will rust like an unused bicycle left in the rain.
Goal: My goal for this is to bring the kind of precision I’ve learnt from playing Mozart to this piece. I’d like to sound cleaner, cooler, and crisp with no doubts as to what note is struck where and when.
Brahms Intermezzo op. 118 no.2
My introduction to the wonderful world of Brahms, and I think one of my all-time favourite pieces. Sadly, when I don’t play this piece for weeks, I’ve often noticed that my memory of it dodgy and I’ve begun to wonder if its because it’s somehow been tied to muscle memory rather than the intellectual level.
Goal: Rework memorisation technique and remove any memory doubts in this piece.
Scarlatti Sonata k, 27
This is such a beautiful piece that I have strangely fallen out of love with. As a result, I get bored when I play it and thus play it badly. There’s a point where my mind is ahead of my hands because the piece is not theoretically, very complex. And perhaps that has put me off a little bit. But until I have actually played it perfectly – or pretty close, I have no excuse to ignore Scarlatti.
Goal: Rework and reconnect with the piece and try to figure my initial inspiration. Start out on a blank slate and work on the piece as I would an entirely new piece.
Chopin Nocturne Op. post. 72 Nr. 1
One of my oldest pieces that I think has gone through the most transformation over the years. My skill and technique has changed so much since when I first learned it, that I feel the need to go back and perhaps rework areas that I couldn’t have in the past.
Goal: Refine interpretation and lengthen the trills, work on bringing the entire piece together cohesively with the changes.
This turned out to be a fairly long post today and I haven’t even listed all the performance pieces yet! I’ll stop here for now and save what I’m looking to learn in the future for another day.
Thanks for reading! 🙂