Saturday, February 26, 2011

5th Lesson: 12/7/2010

Again, we started the lesson by warming up with a few arpeggios.  I've come to expect it.  Then we jumped into "Il Est Né".  I played the whole thing for Bill, and he pointed out that I was pausing between the first and second parts of the song, which I hadn't really realized.  Well, I realized it, because I was placing my hands for the second part, but I hadn't thought it was so noticeable.  So we worked on the transition there for a while.  

Then, we played a duet of "Il Est Né"!!!  Most of Sylvia Woods' books have an easy and a hard version of each song, and they can be played as a duet.  So, I played the easy version which I'd been working on, and Bill accompanied me with the harder version on his pedal harp!  It was so fun!  I love playing duets!  I'd never played with another harpist before, but my flute teacher and I used to do a lot of duets until she got severe TMJ and was forced to stop playing.  It's very exciting to work with another person to make music.

Then Bill asked me if I'd like to start working on the harder version of "Il Est Né", but I asked if we could possible work on another Christmas song, so that I could have more than one piece to play for the Christmas program.  We decided on "Away in a Manger".  We worked out the right hand melody, then tried adding the accompaniment Sylvia Woods wrote out.  

Bill and I didn't think that I'd be able to memorize both parts in time for the Christmas program, and my next lesson will be after it, so we decided that I should just memorize chords to play with my left hand, which will go along with the melody.  

I'm so excited for the program!  (but a little nervous too!)

4th Lesson: 11/24/2010

We started the lesson by reviewing my arpeggios, then we jumped right into working on "Il Est Né".

I feel like we had a great lesson!  I'd been working hard on the piece, but sometimes you need somebody to point out all the little things you're doing wrong that you don't notice!  (For instance, I hadn't realized that my tempo had been varying slightly, and that I hadn't been closing my hands completely.)  He reminded me that it's important to place groups simultaneously... again.  I'll admit, it's a bit tricky, because proper hand posture means you can't actually see your 3rd and 4th fingers of the left hand, so you just have to remember how a certain passage "feels" and rely on muscle memory.

We worked out a new fingering different from the one Sylvia Woods suggested in the last measure of the first half of the piece.  Bill calls it "anchoring" - making sure that at the end of each phrase, at least one of your fingers is already placed for the next phrase, so if you need to look up from the harp for any reason, you don't lose your place in the song.

After we worked on the first half of the piece, he walked me through the second half, making sure I used the proper fingerings.

I feel like "Il Est Né" is really progressing quickly and I am getting very excited for Christmas!

2nd Lesson: 10/26/2010

At my 2nd lesson, Bill and I covered what we'd talked about at my last lesson.  Then he had me start working on arpeggios.  (For those of you that don't know, an arpeggio is made up of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes in a scale.  For example, a C major arpeggio goes C, E, G, C, E, G, and so on.)  They are played with fingers 1, 2, and 3.  They are actually quite fun! (Especially when you get going fast!)

Then we worked on Exercise #7 in Stephanie's book, which focuses on placing fingers in groups of 3.  After that, we went over two songs, "First Waltz" and "Second Waltz". 

Then we went over placing groups of 4.  "Placing" is when you put your finger on a string, and a "group of 4" is when you place 4 fingers at once.  It is a bit hard because the goal is to place all fingers simultaneously, which takes practice.

Then we talked about "lifting" - raising your hands slightly after releasing a string.  It is a very small movement, but it adds expression to a piece.

Then, in Stephanie's book, we went through "Yankee Doodle Puzzle".  It's an arrangement of "Yankee Doodle" that uses some tricky fingerings on purpose, because it's an exercise.  Bill told me that "Yankee Doodle Puzzle" was the first piece he ever memorized and that it would be a good idea for me to try memorizing it.

Note: I did end up memorizing "Yankee Doodle Puzzle".  It sounds hard, but it wasn't - not really.  I just played it over and over until I didn't need to look at the music.