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Piano practicing, performance, and gym routines: Always Reach Beyond! (Video, Bach Invention 8 in F)

I take my inspiration from the two Irina/Irena-s, each pronouncing their names slightly differently. Irina Gorin is the ingenious piano teacher from Carmel, Indiana via the Ukraine, and Irena Orlov is from Washington D.C.’s Levine School of Music via Leningrad. They both inspire students to explore and draw out their deepest creative expression.

That’s what we should all be doing in our personal practice sanctuaries. I certainly try to evaluate and re-evaluate my own performances, whether they’re recorded for myself to review, or for You Tube. Regardless of having an audience of one, or many, the process of learning from experience, examining phrasing, physical comportment, and anything that might have intruded upon a free flow of physical and emotional expression (there’s that word again) is worth noticing.

That’s why I believe that videotaping yourself is an amazing teaching tool– one that can spur musical growth if you, the player, can distance yourself enough from the recorded sample to make some valuable observations. In other words, don’t be hard on yourself. Look at the mirror of your playing like it was someone else’s image– Think of a friend, whom you would not harshly criticize. Underline “O” for objectivity.

This type of mirrored self-analysis is the next best thing to having a teacher present looking over your shoulder. Or maybe you don’t want anyone encroaching on your space. Give yourself a breather and do a little self-assessment.

If you can spot places in your recording where something went awry, and not necessarily a glut of conspicuously wrong notes, you can try to pinpoint a physical problem, where perhaps a tense arm or wrist got in the way. You might remember at this moment, that you lost your breath and became anxious. Every aspect of one’s mental state and respiration factor into a total performance. Musical inspiration or intuition are not enough to get a pianist from the first measure to the final cadence. There must be a pacing, just like athletes know. Pianists are part athlete, part Terpsichore or any nyphm in the forest you choose to be–and part split personality when they’re playing. Vladimir Horowitz talked about fire and ice states when tackling the warhorses.

Being attuned to a relaxed physical state, in any case, works in a player’s favor

Which reminds me that today, a few hours before I attempted to record the whip-lashing, nerve-splitting, Bach Invention 8 on my iMac, I dashed off to Bally’s Gym, with my boots on, no less, and did a self-instigated photo shoot. Actually I aimed the silly Sony Cybershot at the mirror, not realizing that the flash (an automatic setting) would obliterate me, like I was blown up in one of those superhero video games. But at last, I survived once I knocked out the flash.

My goal was to get a pic of myself working out on the Gravitron where I build upper body strength and feel a good workout for my arms. It’s really helps leverage weight into the keys, so I strongly recommend it.

Here’s a fleeting look: I set the weight at 70, which means I’m pulling about 45 pounds. I follow up with 30-minutes of leg press, deep breathing all the way through.

Not to forget, that behind every performance, especially one being recorded, there’s a cat lurking in the wings ready to pounce at the wrong moment, sending any and all music to the trash! So make sure when you sit down to videotape yourself, that your feline is not permitted on the piano, in the piano, or near the piano. In this instance, Aiden was about to leap to the window sill to make his favorite racket, pawing the blinds.

RELATED:
Tutorial on this Invention 8, BWV 779–using a spring forward wrist motion:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/piano-instruction-j-s-bach-invention-no-8-in-f-bwv-779-using-a-spring-forward-wrist-and-hand-rotation-two-videos/

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Aiden cat and music in a mixed media blend (Video)

This morning I had an idea to synchronize Aiden’s instrumental choice photos with pertinent musical excerpts, so I propped up sheet music selections on Haddy Haddorff’s rack and imagined what kitty pics would best fit.

Once I had captured all my music with attached video, (I wore a purple sequined jacket for the occasion) I called upon my daughter, Aviva to help me edit in the photos at the right moment with cross fades, etc.

I thought she did a masterful job.

Excerpts of works I played for the soundtrack:

“Meditation” from “Thais” by Jules Massenet (Aiden prepared to play the violin)
“Swan” by Saint-Saens (Aiden kissing the cello)
“La Chasse” by Burgmuller (Aiden thinking about playing the hunting horn)
Brahms “Lullaby,” (Aiden snuggling straw bunnies, and cradling a porcelain cat)
“Flamenco” by Gillock (Aiden contemplating a guitar)
“We are Siamese if you Please” from Lady and the Tramp (Aiden listening with earphones)
Cats “Memories” (Aiden sitting peacefully at the Steinway piano) and fading out on the Haddorff console.

All selections were recorded on the Haddorff piano.

More cute photos of Aiden:

RELATED:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/aiden-cat-joins-claudia-8-and-teacher-shirley-kirsten-at-the-piano-bench-for-supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-video/

Aiden Cat and Chopin
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5MLPxKFl2c

Aiden Cat Dozes off to Debussy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0QF8ahBJ88