Aether Time Management & Practice Sessions

Posted: 6/20/2007 2:32:00 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Kevin, that's a superb and helpful post thank you.
You've triggered a rush of memories of my teacher.
Though I was studying a different instrument, his methodology and tricks stay with me and help to this day.

I'll put down some of the major ones.
There is not reallya set order to them the phases are rough indications of variable states, my teacher always knew when to push or pull back and how to trick me into important realizations at every stage along the way. I try my best to do that for myself and use these and others as best fits the problem and moment at hand.

One of the most important things to learn is how you learn and knowing yourself and how to exploit your personal strengths as well as make your faults work for you.

Learning Phase 1 Nail the building blocks.
Identifying the error or weak spot and when you hit it and it's wrong
stop and do not allow yourself to proceed past any mistake.

Slow down and don't play it faster than you can correctly,
Try not to practice mistakes.

Practice each hand seperately.
Work on the notes and the rhythm by themselves.
(schielenkrahe gave us some fantastic related exercises, here's one of his posts:

Work the passage with the measures immediately before and after it,
the set up to the problem spot is important, often your fingering
is setting you up for the fall.

Learning Phase 2 Assemble the blocks.
Start building whole phrases and sections and finally the entire piece.

Start integrating dynamics and adding in additional actions like pedal pushes or settings changes.
Practice these the same way as the notes and rhythm, treat it like choreography to be learned
with the same dispassion as the notes. Slow down again if you need to.

For really complex sequences break down the physical movements,
even down to the detailed level of when to shift your weight.

Don't force the tempo faster than where you can maintain you accuracy.
If a quicker tempo is part of the interpretation, what you are working from in your head, it will come.
Playing fast is generally illusionary, often you hear things faster in your head than is actually approached for the piece, the increase in tempo will usually come on it's own without you having to force it.
You can work up to it with small increases spread over several sessions, but always pulling it back when it falls apart. Again: Try not to practice mistakes.

Polish Phase Make them shine.
Can you play through the entire piece without experiencing any extra tension?
If unhelpful tension is creeping in note that section and take it back to Phase 2.

Examine the Phrasing, Proportions, Tempi and Balance
do various movements or sections fit together into a cohesive whole?

What is the final statement, are you communicating the composer's intent and your understanding and vision of it with yoru performance of this piece?

Concert Prep Phase Running the marathon.
This is a very different part of it.
You need to work on full pieces and full sections of your program,
building your endurance as well as keeping your poise and balance are the most important.
When fitting together in the context of a concert program or a very large sectional work, look at the sonic and tempo relationships. Do things really fit together?

Run through with the clothes, shoes, staging, spoken patter you will actually use,
and practice your entrance and bow too.

Recording, which I admit I must do more of, definitely helps with all of these phases.
As Kevin described, it's a big help to have least one dress rehearsal or out of town try out with other people there. And actually a less than ideal group may work better.
Before an important performance I did an open "Theremin Salon" in my apartment and several of my neighbors came along with four teenagers and a young child.
They were attentive but just fidgety enough to let me experience some of the audience distractions I'd face in the real venue.
This was such a tremendous help and greatly reduced my performance anxiety.
As it turned there was massive ice storm the night of the show and I was so relieved just to have made it there alive, it was one of the most relaxed performances I ever gave.
Posted: 7/17/2007 7:10:07 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

I have to thank you guys. It's making a difference.

I may never have as much open time as if I was lucky enough to not have to work straight jobs; but these ideas and techniques have already been helping me get *a lot* more accomplished with my music work in the time I do have.

Alexander, DiggyDog, kkissinger, schielenkrahe:
you really helped me out; and a kick start to a to a great summer of aether-music love.
Posted: 7/19/2007 9:49:54 AM
Brian R

From: Somerville, MA

Joined: 10/7/2005

Oops, meant to post this a couple of weeks ago, then was distracted by other things...

A couple of years ago, a student hipped me to the concept of "Structured Procrastination." It's the brainchild of John Perry, a philosophy professor at Stanford University, and he's posted it in spiffy form at the following URL:
Posted: 7/19/2007 11:27:37 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Brian R,

Well, hopefully you accomplished much while you procrastinated on making your post above.

Posted: 7/19/2007 11:40:54 PM

From: Kansas City MO USA

Joined: 11/26/2006

isn't that some sort of paradox?
Posted: 7/20/2007 7:29:34 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

it's an event horizon.
Posted: 7/21/2007 12:16:19 AM
Brian R

From: Somerville, MA

Joined: 10/7/2005

Kevin, how right you are.

No offense to all present--but in fact, I did spend those three or four weeks dealing with more pressing deadlines.

One was writing songs for a musical that has nothing whatsoever to do with the theremin, so no further description is warranted here.

The other was a rehearsal and a recording session (plus panicked preparation for same!) for a new piece that I wrote this spring... about seven minutes' duration, for soprano, vibraphone, and theremin.

(Any day now, I'll pick out the better excerpts and post them on my website. Bottom line: I wrote a VER-R-R-Y ambitious theremin part... ambitious in terms of leaps, articulation, and post-tonal idiom... and so, I'm still learning to play it.)

Yes, I admit that in practice, it took me all of five minutes (or less) to type that previous post... but psychologically, the items above precluded doing so until this week. No, I don't recommend this lifestyle to anyone else.

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