There Is No Finish Line

We made it through to the end of the Boccherini Minuet in Wednesday’s lesson, and with it the end of Suzuki Book Two.  I love this minuet – it’s extremely fun to play, and, while challenging, the technical details are not such that I feel I won’t be able to make the piece sound OK in relatively short order.  That’s not true of all my pieces – Gavotte by Mignon, for example, is the Book Two tune that has become a bit of a nemesis.

Of that particular tune, I remember Teacher saying that children often finish memorizing the gavotte and then leave it for good.  At the time, I was still learning the song, and finding it delightful in its way.  I thought that it was a simple case in point of the shorter attention spans of children.  But now I’ve hit a plateau, and am really not making it sound as good as I think I should be able to.  Songs that come later in the book are sounding better.  I’m starting to think the kids are onto something.

I practice all my “old” songs (to me it’s a little absurd to call them old when I’ve been at this project for a total of a year and a half!).  I’ve split them into two practice sets, and I alternate between them day by day.  My most recent songs still get daily treatment, and Gavotte by Mignon remains in the latter category.  But now I’m playing three songs that come later, and I still feel I’m working out the technical details of that Gavotte, which really slows down my practice.

So yes, I’m at the “end” of Book Two – but these songs will come back around for me forever.  The concept in Japanese that we apply to our karate training is ren ma, which means constant polishing. No matter how long ago we learned something, we keep practicing it.  Hold the lessons fresh, work with them forever.  Allow them to become a part of you.

How does a mega-star get up on stage and fill up a song she’s been performing for decades with a power that makes it seem she wrote the song a month ago?  Ren ma.

Thanks for reading.

Ryan

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