A day with nothing to do but practise, and this was even enforced by the rainy (alternating drizzly with absolutely hosing it down) weather. In the morning we still had no working heating, and I was really struggling to keep my hands warm enough to practise. As well as my almost-constant cups of tea, I was doing start jumps every 15 minutes to try and get my circulation going a bit better. However, around lunchtime Andy (our landlord) came to sort out our problem with the heating, and now we have functional radiators!

As the days progress, I’m becoming increasingly aware of the amount of music and the number of exercises that Trevor wants us to get under our fingers. Each week in class we need to present an Andersen Study, a Moyse Study (from 24 Little Melodic Studies), a repertoire piece and an orchestral excerpt. Not enormous on its own, but in addition to all the exercises that we’re expected to have from memory in the not-too-distant future, it’s quite a lot to fit into each day’s practice.

I guess in some ways the question of how to deal with it all boils down to risk minimisation. I want to memorise all the exercises, but I also don’t want to make a fool of myself playing them in class tomorrow or next week either. So just going for memory at the expense of quicker learning from the book isn’t an option. On the other hand, I also don’t want to make a fool of myself if and when Trevor does take the book away! So I need a practice plan that allow for both, and makes the best use of my time each day.

Here, for the moment, is what I’m doing:

– Trying to spend a little time on each and every exercise on the list

– Starting at a different point (aka in a different key) each day

– For the key I start with, I try to play from memory, and so spend a bit more time on it.

– If that key is moderately successful, I keep on with the memory work for a few more keys.

– Then I play a few more keys with the music (but trying not to look too much) and at a faster speed, trying to get in the finger work-out part of the day as well.

My plan means that I’m not getting through every key with every exercise, though all the keys are covered by the end of my practice, often a couple of times. Hopefully (and my fingers are still crossed) this will mean that everything gradually settles itself into my long-term memory, and that my fingers will get more agile along the way.

Now on my fifth cup of tea (herbal only though) for the day!

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