Week 1: Status check! (also pick your piece!)

Hello and welcome to the WEEK ONE Main Thread for this challenge! 馃ぉ

 


Alright everyone - this is the thread where we'll all be posting our daily updates.     

Make sure you've read the rules before replying (<- click)

 

Twice a week between January 23 - 30 I hope to be reading your daily updates in this very thread right here!     

 

Here is this week's assignment!

 

1. Pick your piece!

 

2. If a new piece, post your sight-reading of it (never hurts to practice this valuable skill!) If it is an old piece, let's try and dust it off, and play through what we can, to evaluate its current condition. Let us know what your "piece status" is!

 

3. Optional: Tell us WHY you picked this piece that you love so much!

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    • Juan Carlos Olite
    • Philosophy teacher and piano lover
    • Juan_Carlos
    • 2 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Hi piano friends! Here my first video of Beethoven op. 109 first movement.

    Why this piece? I simply fell in love with it the first time I listened to it. It is (Andr谩s Schiff dixit) the most poetic Beethoven Sonata. This first movement is like an improvisation, pure fantasy, without a proper beginning, "It comes from somewhere" (Schiff again). Are there bars or something like that? Or is it incredibly beautiful music that simply flows?

    For this challenge I only play this "Vivace, ma non troppo. Sempre legato". It's fairly enough with all the numberless details that it contains (Besides, I feel incapable to play the last movement, for now..., who knows...馃, perhaps in some years, thanks to all you can learn on Tonebase).

    Like 13
    • Juan Carlos Olite Love it! Poetic sonata and playing! 

      Like 1
      • Gail Starr
      • Recently retired MBA (international consumer products/luxury goods/classical music mgt.)
      • Gail_Starr
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Juan Carlos Olite Simply wonderful!

      Like 1
    • Juan Carlos Olite Fantastic playing, Juan Carlos! Love it! I'm pretty sure you will play the third movement after some more time here on TB :)  

      Like 1
    • Juan Carlos Olite such beautiful sonata and so beautifully played! Bravo!!

      Like 2
      • Adriana L贸pez
      • Concertist in the making
      • Adriana_Lopez
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Juan Carlos Olite it sounds really good! Love Beethoven鈥 I love how melodic it sounds and so smooth :) 

       

      Great piece! 

      Like 1
      • Michael
      • Art Historian, Musculoskeletal Radiologist, Former Harpsichordist
      • MichaelP
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Juan Carlos Olite Pure magic, transporting!

      Like
      • ALICE
      • ALICE.1
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Juan Carlos Olite I love your smooth legato runs. Your piano sounds amazing too!

      Like 1
    • Juan Carlos Olite such graceful and heartfelt playing! That is so good! 

      Like
      • Tammy
      • TT2022
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Juan Carlos Olite Very nice! Amazing job. 

      Like 1
      • Will Green
      • Mystic/Musician
      • Will_Green
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Juan Carlos Olite I love this piece so much. It reminds me of a spring day, but one where you know the end of life is near... thank you +

      Like
      • Juan Carlos Olite
      • Philosophy teacher and piano lover
      • Juan_Carlos
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Vidhya Bashyam Gail Starr Sindre Skarelven Andrea Buckland Adriana L贸pez Michael ALICE Natalie Peh Tammy Will Green Thank you so much piano friends for your kind words! You know how stimulating is to share each other the music we love. Thank you!

      Like
      • Michelle R
      • Michelle_Russell
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Juan Carlos Olite Wonderful, as always!

      Like
    • Juan Carlos Olite Bravo! A moving rendition of one of my favorite pieces! Thanks for sharing!

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      • Michael
      • Art Historian, Musculoskeletal Radiologist, Former Harpsichordist
      • MichaelP
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Juan Carlos Olite I like your playing of this so much that I went back to listen to it again. It strikes me that its improvisitory/fantasy character would make memorization extraordinarily difficult, and yet you have done it with perfection. Perhaps the score with its improvisitory character makes memorization essential for performance, since the score needs to be deciphered piecemeal in order to learn it. I notice that you watch your hands while playing.

      If I may ask, does memorization come to you easily, or is it something that you approach methodically when learning music?. In general, what is the role of the visual observation of your hands in the memorization and recall process? When you are learning music, do you tend to keep your eyes focused on the score, knowing where your fingers are automatically; or do you look at your fingers frequently to note their position? Does your learning process allow you to relinquish visual attention to the score early on, instead linking the visual attention to your hands to the aural memory of the music?

      I hope I鈥檓 not taking unfair advantage of a philosophy professor! 馃槒 I suspect that you think deeply about your learning process, and can provide me with some insights that will be helpful in developing the skill of memorization. I am a profoundly visually analytical person (developed through my training and practice as an art historian and radiologist), so that it does not come naturally to me to give up focusing on the printed score. I am teathered to the visual images in front of me. I view this as a hurdle to my progress as a musician.

      If others are interested in this subject, perhaps we can create a new forum topic on this subject.

      Like 3
      • Juan Carlos Olite
      • Philosophy teacher and piano lover
      • Juan_Carlos
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Michael Hello Michael! If it can be of any help, I will be happy to tell you how I do it, although it is nothing very special. I always say that memorization is simply a question of habit. But, of course, I understand that the main difficulty, at the beginning, is changing habits.

      Since many years ago I try to memorize all the pieces I play and now, to be honest, it is a necessity in order to play with freedom, to enjoy every single sound... Well, the "how" is to join the learning process with the memorization process. And, something very important, to restrain the desire to explore the entire piece over and over again with the score. The key is the old wise sentence Divide et vinces (divide and conquer): learn the first phrase (a few bars), memorize it, play it as musically as possible; and then, the next phrase and so on... Some might think that it is completely boring and a loss of time. I think just the contrary, because you then can focus on all the details: phrasing, fingering, harmony, color, pedalling, the hands movements and positions, the necessary relaxation...  Sometimes, the fact to play musically a few bars, as expressively as possible, is very pleasant, because it is something new. It is very curious, and I have discussed this with other people who do the same, and they all agree that the hardest part is the beginning. But, when you have memorized the first page, for example, the rest of the piece (in most occasions) goes surprisingly fast, because of patterns, repetitions, changes in the harmony of the same material... Obviously, the score is in front of you and you can check it all the times you need, but the playing itself is always, even if it is a simple bar, without looking at it.

      Well, I hope I have been able to explain the process and I wish it can help you. Nevertheless, we can discuss more and more about that.

      Like 7
      • Michael
      • Art Historian, Musculoskeletal Radiologist, Former Harpsichordist
      • MichaelP
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Juan Carlos Olite Thank you for writing such a thoughtful reply. It is very helpful for me to hear you emphasize that exploring the entire score repeatedly can be an impediment to memorization, because my habit has always been to play through an entire score (or large piece of it) to identify those smaller parts that need more attention for technical reasons, or to notice opportunities for musical interpretation. Then I work out the troublesome details, or try out various musical approaches, only to comb back through the entire score. Mine is an iterative process that constantly expands the focus to a larger whole. I like the way that your approach gives priority to the musical success of each small part as you move along, and dangles what comes next as a reward that must first be earned. It is a wonderfully adult and mature attitude that accepts the delay in gratification in exchange for a more meaningful accomplishment. I'm afraid I would eat the musical marshmallow of reading through the whole score immediately and repeatedly.

      My educational and professional life has reinforced the habit of relying on eidetic memory, and I struggle to escape the tyranny or a printed page or image before my eyes. When I last studied music, around four decades ago, I played the harpsichord, and it was the convention always to play from the printed score.

      One of my main challenges in playing music has always been the way that the visual, printed score inserts itself in the mental process of transferring musical thought to physical performance. In order to play the more complex piano literature, I need to be liberated from that. There is simply no way to find my way around the keyboard and refer back to the printed page.

      For me, your approach would require a high degree of discipline. But I think I should choose some unfamiliar piece of music to experiment with.

      I'd be curious what other Tonebase users think about this subject, how (or if) they memorize music, and how they tackle the process of transferring a visual score into a musical thought that can be memorized together with its physical translation.

      Like 1
      • Gail Starr
      • Recently retired MBA (international consumer products/luxury goods/classical music mgt.)
      • Gail_Starr
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Michael I wanted to ask Juan Carlos the same thing!  His memory is extraordinary.

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      • Gail Starr
      • Recently retired MBA (international consumer products/luxury goods/classical music mgt.)
      • Gail_Starr
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Juan Carlos Olite I love your ideas about memorizing!  Since I have only played chamber music or with orchestras my whole adult life, I never even gave any thought to memorizing.  But now, as part of Tonebase, I really want to start to memorize.  I am beginning my brand new Balakirev piece now, and I will try to memorize as I go along.  Muchas gracias!

      Like 1
      • Juan Carlos Olite
      • Philosophy teacher and piano lover
      • Juan_Carlos
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Michael Gail Starr We can continue talking about memorization a little more. Michael, I am not sure it is only a question of discipline, I love eating musical marshmallows all the time too. I have been teaching for more than 36 years and I am totally convinced that the whole process of learning, at all stages, has to be rewarding in itself not only in the final result.

      Of course, I like exploring the entire piece with the score, but that is exploration not memorization. So, you can know the whole piece, identify special moments, and so on; but, I am perfectly aware that this playing has its limits to memorize and to make deeper into the piece. So, I try to avoid playing the entire piece over and over again with the score because it has disadvantages in order to memorize (the process would be very slow like this and insecure) and to improve drastically the learning of it. You say that you identify small parts of the piece that need more attention, and I wonder: Why does it have to be necessary to keep looking at the score when you practice repeatedly those small fragments? And consequently: Why not transfer that attitude to the whole procedure?

      I remember one piece I learnt last November (in the intensive course about Mozart with Orli Shaham). The memorization of the Sonata K330 was very fast, specially the second movement. Look at this andante cantabile. You can play the entire movement over and over again or you can play, learn and memorize each fragment perfectly and explicitly written in the score. Imagine that Mozart is telling you: look at these beautiful musical marshmallows, I have made very clear the beginning and end of each fragment, you can savor and enjoy them one by one leisurely, then two together, three together... And you are enjoying all the process of learning. 

      Having said that, I understand that any change in habits is always something hard.

      Like 7
    • Juan Carlos Olite Michael Very interesting discussion you are having! I am going to give your method a try for sure.

      Like 1
      • Michael
      • Art Historian, Musculoskeletal Radiologist, Former Harpsichordist
      • MichaelP
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Juan Carlos Olite I鈥檓 delighted by your further thoughts. Thank you for sharing them.

      Your framework for learning is extremely attractive, as it seems to be the most efficient and rewarding route to learning a composition. The shift in approach that resonates so well with me, is to understand that the larger composition consists of many shorter intrinsically satisfying and, to some extent, 鈥渃omplete鈥 bitesized units each of which can be discovered, savored, played with, and memorized independently. Then those mini compositions are reconstitued into the whole piece. The process sounds fully engaging and rewarding, minimizing the visual attention to the score and replacing it immediately with an aural understanding of the music, which is after all its essence. Habits are always difficult to change, but your approach seems so rewarding that I have every intention of giving it a try. Shall I think of it as the 鈥淢ozartean Mini-Marshmallow Memorization Method鈥?

      May I ask: what branch of Philosphy to do you study and teach? I am greatful to be your student, even in this very limited way.

      Like 1
    • Juan Carlos Olite wonderful choice and sounds amazing already. Such a positive and uplifting piece 馃檶

      Like 1
      • Juan Carlos Olite
      • Philosophy teacher and piano lover
      • Juan_Carlos
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Michael Great name for a learning method, Michael; sounds awesome for an ad campaign, we could patent it together馃槉...

      I have been teaching History of Philosophy and Psychology (High School). Branches of research: mainly Philosophical Anthropology and Philosophy of Mind. One book with some ideas: "Las ilusiones metaf铆sicas de un cerebro primate" (in Spanish).

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Michael.

      Like 3
      • Gillian
      • Gillian
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Juan Carlos Olite  and Michael thank you both for the discussion on memorization. As someone who has never memorized any piece I have always felt overwhelmed by the prospect of even trying! But after reading the marshmallow method I will try it with a simple piece and 鈥渏ust see what happens鈥. Thank you!

      Like 1
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