Playing with Accompaniment

Four songs into Book Two and the final piece from Book One is still my obsession.  It’s Gavotte, by Gossec – soon Book Two will bring me two more gavottes by two different composers and I’ll have to start distinguishing them, but for now I just have the one.  I just looked back on the blog and was a little surprised to find that I’ve been working on this piece for three months now.  Teacher told me when I first started working with it that I would not encounter a more technically difficult piece until about halfway through Book Two.  There is still one spot where I struggle to hit all the notes, a slurry of sixteenths, and as of yesterday I’m up to being able to do it correctly about a third of the time.  A few other spots still trip me up from time to time, but I can generally get through them.

On Sunday, I started a different kind of practice with Gavotte that’s helping me take it to the next level.  In addition to sample play-throughs, the heart of the Suzuki method, The CDs that come with the Suzuki books have accompaniment tracks on them.  While I don’t have the CD for Book One, some folks have created their own videos online – on Sunday I found a YouTube piano accompaniment for Gavotte that goes at a speed that I can more or less manage, so I started working with it.

It’s a real challenge to put myself on someone else’s schedule, musically speaking!  It gets to the heart of making music, though, and it’s exciting to be working this way.  When you miss something you just have to let it go – backing up the video all the time is not what this kind of practice is for, at least not for me so far.  I’m playing it straight through, over and over, just accepting the lumps as they come and moving on.  Evening out the rhythm by working with someone else who’s much better at it than me is making a big difference to the overall sound of the piece.  I’m even starting to notice and be able to impact some subtleties of tone production.

Motivation is interesting psychologically –simply trying to keep up with another person can really do a lot for our performance in many avenues.  I’m not in competition with the accompanist, obviously – nobody else has been in my living room to evaluate my performance, but I still want to get it right.  One of the interesting moments comes at the very end, when the accompanist slows down the last few notes to make a dramatic finish that would typically probably be somewhat organic, a negotiation, of sorts, between the accompanist and the principle.  So of course I have to just totally follow – I’m having fun trying to nail down his non-metronomic timing.  Finally, he repeats one section that I did not learn to repeat on the D.C. repeat, so it’s goes a little longer than I’m used to.

Here’s the accompaniment track:

Thanks for reading.

Ryan

2 comments

  1. […] foray into playing with accompaniment was Book One’s Gavotte, and with that piece I had to find the accompaniment online; I don’t have the Book One CD.  I’m still happy to be working on Gavotte daily –  I […]

  2. […] came back to practicing after vacation and pulled out the accompaniment track I’ve been working with for Gavotte by Gossec, the final piece in Book One that I’m still […]

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