Sunday, October 28, 2012

Musical Insomnia

Brain bursting and blooming with music: impossible to sleep!
(Google Image Search)

It happens sometimes: A night of sleeplessness, my mind filled with music that will not let me rest. Last night's episode may be the result of latent anxiety about an upcoming recital, the first I will attempt in over a decade. Even though it is only a very small, informal recital, what matters is whether I can get over myself and do the music justice.  And, Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales is a work that means a great deal to me. 

I wanted badly to get up and go to the piano, but that was out of the question lest I disturb the slumbering. (I can only imagine what it would be like to awaken to the jarring major 9th chords that open Ravel’s creation - likely pure terror and delight all in one, wild sensation!) 

So I did the next best thing: head practicing. 

I went through each waltz, separating out the left hand (I rely far too much on my right hand), testing my memory. I took special care to go over corrections and suggestions I’d received earlier that day from my teacher. 

Between these mental rehearsals, I took stock of my current repertoire.  Considering I haven’t played the piano for 12+ years, it is paltry indeed:

Susan’s Current Repertoire
Chopin, Frédéric
  • Études Op. 25, No. 1, No. 2, No. 3
  • Trois nouvelles études Op. posthu., No. 1

Debussy, Claude

  • Arabesque No. 1 (from Deux Arabesques)
  • Clair de Lune (from Suite Bergamesque)
  • Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum (from Children’s Corner)
  • Jimbo’s Lullaby (from Children’s Corner)

Granados, Enrique
  • Danzas españolas Op. 37, No. 5 [Andaluza]

Ravel, Maurice
  • Valses nobles et sentimentales
  • Prelude (from Le tombeau de Couperin)
  • Menuet (from Le tombeau de Couperin)

Schumann, Robert
  • Valse noble (from Carnaval, Op. 9)
  • Chopin (from Carnaval, Op. 9)

… meaning, I can play the above for an audience with some confidence of doing a passable job.  

Then, I created a Wish List of pieces I would dearly love to play.  That list is much longer than my current repertoire.  I won’t bore anyone with the list, but let’s just say it includes Brahms, Scriabin, Schubert, and whole lot more Chopin and Ravel.  Did I mention that I’m a Romantic and Impressionist era junkie?

In this fashion, the hours passed.  I just spent the last couple of hours working on the Ravel, and although I am tired from lack of sleep I somehow retained my corrections as well as the left hand “focus” spots.  The head practicing worked! 

On performance day, I need to trust myself that my practicing will serve me well.  I’ve been plagued by split second doubts that have resulted in awful memory lapses, in passages I’d previously thought were “safe.”  

But, as my teacher said with a shrug of his shoulders yesterday when I told him my head gets in the way: “Well, leave it home!”  

There!  I’ll waltz up to the piano next weekend without my head, and trust that my muscle memory and heart will take care of the music.