Sunday, August 21, 2011

More books I'm reading

Arthur Weisberg, The Art of Wind Playing. I blogged this before. Actually, this got recalled so I had to give it back, but I'm still thinking about the things it said. Mostly working on trying to play in tune all the way through a note, from the attack to the release.

Walter Piston, Harmony. I tried skimming through this in high school, but you can't learn harmony by skimming. It's not for a class, so I can take as long as I want. Another book, a jazz piano book my wife is editing and producing a new edition of, suggests that harmony be learned slowly. So I'm taking it slow, trying to do all the exercises, and integrate the new material into what I know and play. That way, even if I don't finish the book, I've still learned something useful. Inspired by this book, I've started to play some harmonic minor scales, instead of just melodic.

The Inner Game of Music. A classic, which I found randomly browsing in the music library. I read the Inner Game of Tennis many many years ago, which was the first in the series. It advocates an intuitive, almost unconscious approach to teaching and learning, and argues that traditional analytical instruction techniques create many more problems than they solve. Victor Wooten's The Music Lesson, which I read awhile back, is along similar lines, as it The Perfect Wrong Note, which I mentioned before. Interestingly, both these books are by bass players. I think at least some of my flaws in playing are due to my relentlessly analytical approach. When working on etudes, I've been focusing on legato, and trying to learn how to play scalework evenly without accenting every note, as I strain to play each note clean. (Here's the Matsukawa masterclass that talks legato.) Music teaching is full of tactics to get people to think and not think in the right ways. Play this arpeggio as one gesture, says M, as opposed to my natural tendency to see it as a dozen distinct slurs, each of which I can screw up in its own way. We'll see if reading the book can help me.

As a side note, I had a lesson yesterday. I got sent on to the next etude after only one lesson on this one, Milde Scale Study #13 (E-flat scales). First time that's happened, which is cool, although I have to say, I played it better during the lesson than I ever did at home. I'm still all over the place on solo pieces. We worked on Ode to a Toad, which has some painfully big leaps. M's going to look for a recital I can crash around Christmastime, so I'll have a performance to work towards, which should help focus me a bit.

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