Book Four is a long haul. In yesterday’s lesson, after we played through the final notes of the final bars of the final piece, Teacher rejoiced jubilantly – a slightly unexpected celebration for me, “You made it!” She wrote the date in the book in the margins next to the last measure. Sloughing through all the notes of this book’s procession of concerto movements is, I suppose, something to be celebrated. But there’s so much more to do with this final piece – the Bach Double. I suspect it will be a few more months before I move on to the next.
Second position playing is the biggest challenge of the concerto for me. In past pieces, my encounters with the awkward position have been fleeting. In this piece, however, I have moments where I cross over strings into accidental-laden passages in second position. The position shifting required in this movement is, overall, on a different scale than I’ve encountered before. On the bright side, third position is starting to come more naturally. As we played through to the end yesterday, we didn’t even mention the several times we shifted up to third as we worked through the, for me, previously uncharted waters of the score. I just kept playing, shifting up, back down, and getting those sections mostly right.
If it sounds like I’m minimizing getting to the last note, I must say that I was certainly happy to play it through – ironically, I began the lesson with a confession. The week before we had worked up to a certain spot, marking it as we always do with a bracket around the last measure we’d stepped through – I take these brackets as the goalposts of my practice, striving to get to a place where I can play half-way competently to that point on my own by my next lesson. As I practiced over the next week, however, it just wasn’t happening – I backed up about 10 measures and drew a new bracket. Even getting to that point was taxing.
Teacher knows when to push. And I guess it’s time to order Book Five and start listening – there’s some really great stuff ahead.
Thanks for reading.