At the beginning of last September, our Vilnius University was going to hold a private organ concert for some private organization in which one of my colleagues here in town was supposed to play.
She asked me to turn the pages for her but I had to decline because of schedule conflict. However, I recommended one of my students from our Unda Maris studio, Mindaugas, who is studying chemistry at the university.
He gladly agreed because it was an opportunity for him to broaden his organ horizon, get to know more music, and get experience in real concert situation.
One of the pieces my colleague played was the Chaconne in F Minor by Johann Pachelbel. As I'm sure many of our subscribers did, Mindaugas fell in love right away upon hearing it live.
I suggested him to begin practicing it this year which he started doing right away. As you know, pedal part is not very complex and the beauty of the music is mesmerizing.
As weeks went by, Mindaugas brought this piece to our weekly practice sessions on Tuesdays. He was doing some progress but we both felt it was not enough.
The challenge was that whenever I or Ausra was present at the rehearsal, Mindaugas practiced the right way but when he was doing it on his own, his practice process somehow wasn't as efficient as he wanted.
In order to help him out and to make him feel like I or Ausra are always around when he practices on his own, I decided to create a practice guide on the Sibelius software for him in which all the practice steps would be outlined. Moreover, I would do it both in PDF and video so that he could actually hear the sounds or even practice together with the video, if he wanted.
Since the Chaconne is subdivided into the theme and 21 variations, it makes sense to practice each variation separately.
It's like having a teacher around all the time. The only thing he had to force himself was to stay on the track, never wander too far.
I know, it's very limiting for an artist to have the steps in front of them but some students actually want to learn in this way, they want to feel like the teacher is guiding them along the path.
They want to feel safe. They want to know if they complete all the steps, then in the result, they could play the piece in public.
How do you learn such pieces? Do you like to practice without the set of steps or rules or do you prefer to keep track of your progress in a quite strict way?
Either way, you have to face yourself honestly and keep pushing yourself as though a great master were present in your practice room.