Monday, August 20, 2012


Summer's almost over, with a new year almost begun. At the beginning of the summer, I'd had great plans to make lots of reeds, go busking, get new experiences, and so on. Almost none of that has happened. I did play with that chamber orchestra, and that's about it. Haven't had a lesson in more than a month... unless you count the tabla lesson from my brother, which we did over the computer. Very hard to make that work: the compression algorithms for video conferencing are optimized for speaking voices, and totally chopped off the resonant ring, making it hard to tell whether I was hitting the drum correctly. Really, I should find a local teacher.

One thing I have been trying recently is changing how I practice scales. When I first started up, I wrote out a chart of gradually speeding up scales, starting at 16ths a little under MM=60, and progressing to MM=120 over a year. Just a metronome click or two per month, I thought. How hard could that be? I kept track of how I was doing, and made the plot above. You can see a linear increase for awhile, followed by a big setback, where I got dissatisfied with the beauty and cleanness of the scales, and reset the metronome. I got up again, working faster for a bit, but not much faster overall. I kinda topped out at 70, and found it hard to do more, playing every key, major and minor, full compass. I then got sick of how much of my limited time I was putting into scales, and stopped recording the speed progress. Overall I tracked this for maybe 8 months total. Since then, I've still played scales, but mostly in the 60-70 window, and experimented tried adding different articulations, etc., but generally trying to not spend too much time on them.

So my new idea is that if I want to be able to play smoothly fast, then I should work on doing just that. New plan: start at MM=100, but very restricted: only C, F, and G, and only five notes at a time, if that's what I can do cleanly and beautifully. I'll try to work my way to playing one octave, up and down, then expand from there, in range and number of scales. If I want to play clean and fast, then do that. We'll see what happens.

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