When I first attended college to study music (around 1973?) , I was a composition major. The school was Ohio Weslyan. My keyboard skills were very meager. I had played keyboard in rock and roll type bands.
I owned my harpsichord then so I attempted to learn baroque pieces on it.
I remember saying that all the keyboard technique I really needed was to be able to play Bach’s Well Tempered Clavichord volumes.
This makes me smile now. Ever since that time I have attempted to continue to improve my keyboard skills. I think of pounding away on scales and Hanon in the back room of the Jenkins Bookshop (started out as “Just Another Store”). This was after quitting Ohio Weslyan and leaving my first wife (and child).
Another growth spurt in my technique was my times at Wayne State and Notre Dame.
More recently when I quit my full time Roman Catholic church music job here in Holland Michigan (around 2000), I utilized my increased free time to improve my playing.
At this point, when I want to learn a harder piece I determine how deeply I want to get into it. The deeper I want to learn it and the more difficult it is, the more I slow my practicing of it. The goal is to rehearse it with as few mis-steps as possible. This usually works. And it opens up the idea that I can learn a lot of music that used to be inaccessible to me.
The Italian Concerto of Bach is a piece I have flailed away at for a long time. I can see by my notes on it that I performed it at church in August of 2000. This must have been on the lovely Bluthner piano I helped purchase at the Roman Catholic church here in Holland. I’m pretty sure I didn’t perform it on my harpsichord.
But I did rehearse it for many years and not too successfully. Since then it’s one that I feel pretty comfortable playing. There are couple of sections I still find a bit challenging.
I am musing about my technique today because I put up in my status on Facebook yesterday that I was happy to be playing my harpsichord in my dining room. I even mentioned that I played through the Italian Concerto and some Platti.
Platti is a baroque Italian composer. I found a volume of his works in a used shop in Ann Arbor and quite enjoy playing through them. They remind me a bit of the great Domenico Scarlatti but that might just be the debt both owe to the Italianate style.
Anyway, two people from my past commented on my status. One from way back in my high school days about listening to me play piano at church camp (!). Church camp? I have no recollection of playing piano at church camps but I’m sure I probably did given half a chance and a piano.
The other from a wry woman I knew and admired in grad school commenting on the fact that she would very much like to be able to “play through” the Italian concerto.
I suspect both people of trying to encourage an old musician.
It worked. Heh.