I sat at the college's electric piano (which feels remarkably like a "real" piano, with dynamics and everything--who knew?) and warmed up with scales. C major, G major. Go, go, keep trying until you do it right several times in a row. Don't forget where to cross over; don't forget when the thumb crosses under. What comes after G? Think about sharps. If F is the first sharp and G is the second scale, and C is the second sharp, then D will be the next scale. Indeed. C major, G major, D major. Do them all. Run three octaves. Run two octaves and then split apart for two octaves and then come back together and run back down. Run three octaves on each. Run two, faster. Two sharps are harder than one. Keep going until it's in there. Tomorrow, it will be in there all the more.
After twenty minutes of scales, I cracked open the Beethoven, worked hard on the first page, then went ahead and played the whole thing, just to see how it sounded, just to see how it was. Played it again. Played it again. Oh, that run of notes there? It's just a D major scale. Use that moment to look ahead to the next thing coming; your fingers know what to do already, and you don't need to pay attention to them. Feel how good it feels? Feel that?
Near the end of the piece comes a point where my nails revealed themselves to be too long--so long that they clicked on the keys--and I remembered another thing I've forgotten: I always had close-cropped nails not just because I picked at them but also, and more, because when you play you don't have anything extra on your hands: no jewelry, no long nails, no polish, no bracelets, no watch. Nothing that gets in the way.
When I'd been there for an hour, I realized that I only had a half-hour left before dinner, and so I stayed, stayed until my fingers were a little sore, stayed until I could feel how much more familiar everything felt. Now I know how to practice; now I know how to hold myself to what I'm doing, why not to mess up the fingerings, how to set up good muscle memory. I may well make 5:30-6:30 my practice time--so that I'll go to dinner feeling high every night.
Now that I'm back from dinner, my horoscope has arrived:
Your body is yearning for a workout of some kind and now is a great time to run, swim, or otherwise burn off a few calories. You'll feel great and it should certainly pay dividends in days to come.For real. I don't mess around.
Everyone here is asking when I'm going to play a concert. It's a little early for that, I think. But I'll tell you what I'm looking forward to: getting back enough skills to feel excellent about playing on one of the college's grand pianos.