Chunks and Strings

My new Gavotte is coming along well enough.  I started the piece in the middle, and now I’ve gone back to the top.  It seems pieces of music can all be broken down into little chunks that make sense, kind of like a sentence can be pulled out of a paragraph as a standalone unit.  Often Teacher will point these chunks out, but equally often they just materialize in the music quite apparently as I play.  The great thing about the way composers compose music is you often get to reuse a chunk or some of its parts later in the piece.

So with the new Gavotte I’ve now got three chunks, well, maybe four, depending on how you count.  The first two lines, then they almost, but not quite, repeat (so is that a second chunk?), then one more that gets me to the place where I started a couple of weeks ago, and then the two line chunk that I started with , which is about in the middle of the work.

I isolate and play them over and over, then I run them together and play the now-larger unit over and over.  I repeat the process, assembling the thing as I go along until I have the piece memorized.  I’m nowhere near memorization yet on this current Gavotte.

Sometimes, as with my first Gavotte, a single chunk remains the thing that prevents me from playing a whole piece properly.  That arrangement has a slurry of sixteenth notes that shifts in the middle from C# to C; I have an immense amount of difficulty making it sound smooth and hitting the notes, especially if I want to do it properly while flowing into the little chunk that comes next (I can, of course, just slow down when I hit that spot, but that’s not what tempo is about!).  I’ve isolated it many times, playing those 8 notes over and over again, but I still am unable to play them as quickly as I can play the rest of the piece.  It’s my bottleneck.

One element of the new Gavotte is surprising me in that it’s not giving me trouble the way I imagined it would.  The piece includes my first encounter of 32nd notes, which sort of come off as trills (they are not; I’m supposed to hit them a specific number of times, unlike trills, which are freer alternations between two notes).  They are fun to play – quickly fluttering the second finger – I think it’s easier than I’d envisioned because the notes are very predictable – in the piece every instance of 32nds involves alternating between F and G on the E string.

The Suzuki series just keeps getting more and more exciting.  And as I wrestle with the pieces, I’m learning to read the music.  I remain interested in the plight of true beginners – those who do not have a background in reading music when they begin Suzuki.  I wonder if it’s harder for them.  Quite obviously, having more experience in most any skill tends to help.

Thanks for reading.


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