Friday, March 26, 2010

Yeah, but she's a Black Belt in Cute

I promise not to turn this into a Tae Kwon Do blog. But you'll like this. Rowan tested for her Yellow Belt this week.

"Wait, she's 3, right?" Good question, glad you asked. Our TKD Studio has a little intro program for pre-kindergartners, called, curiously, Little Ninjas. So, no, this isn't the full-fledged program. They don't do Poomse or memorize facts about the American Flag, for instance.

"Wait, Ninjas? Isn't that Japanese? I thought Tae Kwon Do was a Korean Martial Art." Another good question, but you are really taking me off the subject here. Quiet now.

Anyway, Ro passed. Photographic evidence follows.

But the best part is the board break. They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Well, then a movie must be worth a 1,000 pictures, so enjoy.

My favorite part? The jumping up and down at the end. I bet all those real Ninjas do that, too.

- Aw2pp, who just can't get over the idea of "Kung Fu Master" Jackie Chan starring The Karate Kid remake. Doesn't anyone think about these things first?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Le Update

Just got back from this week's lesson. Focused entirely on Le Onde, and learned some new vocabulary in the process.

Me: What does this allarg. mean? I see that it is always followed by an a tempo, and recordings of the music sound like they slow down... is it just another way to write ritardando?
PT: No, it's more than that. Think broad and majestic as you slow down.
Me: Um, ok, what does that mean?
PT: Think of the glamorous stars walking down the red carpet on Oscar night. Play like they walk.

* - My wife, when she gets around to reading this, will be laughing at this point... she knows I consider The Oscars to be one of the most annoying things to watch on TV. That and Kendra.

Me: What about this poco tratt.?
PT: I have no idea.

We looked it up... it means to hold back, and is more common with string music. Whoddathunkit?

Where I am with Le Onde... I have the first half down and memorized. Once in awhile, I play it so well, I am pleased with it. And it is LOTS of fun, I almost don't want to play anything else these days. The problem is, I am so locked in on the pattern of the first half, the latter half is coming much more slowly, as the changes are subtle. But crucial. So I have some memorization to do on the back half.

Brilliant Reader Denis asks:
How did you solve the issue with 'singing' the main half notes on the right hand in bars 5,6,7 and in the rest of the song?

Great question. Measures 5 and 6 work like this for me: 524131
Measure 7 like this: 514131(2, the F# in the next measure)

It works well, but I bet you question is more of an artistic one than a technical one. That is, how do I play it "sweet and songlike, marking the melody*" (one presumes that would be the high notes). Still having trouble with this. What works for me is to accent the first note in the measure, then get progressively softer as I move down the scale. The first section, it's not coming out like I had hoped. The second section, however, beginning in measure 25, it comes out quite clearly, and I'm almost happy with it. Don't know what makes this section easier, but it is.

* - Pardon my Italian, but that is my guess on what the music is instructing. "Dolce e cantabile, marcando la melodia."

As to the third, beginning measure 41, I am just blasting away. He has some dynamic markings in 47 and 48 that temper things a bit, but, for now, I am playing this as loudly as my technique (such as it is) will allow. When I am ready for a recording, I will give a listen to what I am doing with this part, and probably make some changes.

I'm 2 months out at this point, but 5 weeks away from ABF Recital 18. I'm happy with where I am, enjoying the journey, and will hope to maintain progress for another month. My goal will be to have this down so completely that, come first Friday in June, all I have to worry about is getting a good haircut beforehand. We'll see.

- Aw2pp, inveterate tinkerer

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm a Phineas Phan

We watch a goodly number of "kid shows" at the Aw2pp household. More than I'm willing to admit. Certainly enough to make use claim informed expertise on the subject of "kid shows that don't annoy adults who have to sit there and parentally-monitor what is being watched". So take me seriously when I tell you that most kid shows are totally annoying to me.

But not all.

Phineas and Ferb is almost as funny as early Simpson's episode. High praise indeed.

Jillian takes my lesson this week. Le Onde is getting better, I have begun work on the second half. And Sue is sicker than she's ever been (Strep).

With that, you're up to date.

- Aw2pp, who dresses ironically.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Divertimento in D

I mentioned not too long ago that it seemed the pieces I am working on in Alfred's are easier than the fun / supplemental pieces I was working on. This was certainly true of the Clementi Sonatina, and, to a lesser extent, true of the Einaudi pieces I was tinkering with. (Made some good progress on Le Onde yesterday, btw... you'd recognize it, by this point, as Le Onde.) As a consequence, I was spending a great deal of time on short, simple pieces of music, trying to squeeze that last iota of whatever-it-is-I-was-supposed-to-learn from them. And, as a result, I have now been in Alfred's Book 2 for, oh, a year now, and am not even halfway through.

Enough of that. PT pointed out something last lesson that Gramma MA has been saying for a long time now... these Alfred's pieces are easy, let's bust through them for a few months, and see if the book will catch up with where I am musically. The good news is that you'll see recordings coming more often. The bad news? They'll be imperfect, as I won't be spending the time it takes to make them less so. The goal: 1 or 2 Alfred's pieces a week (6 a month). That might have me starting Book 3 in September (more or less... we'll see).

Case in point number 1, the Divertimento in D. It's ok, not great. It should be faster. It should have greater differentiation between the forte and piano sections. It should be smoother.

It will be none of these. I'm already on the next page. Deal with it.*

* - That admonishment is more for myself than anyone else... you kind folks are much more forgiving of my play than I am. Keep up the good work. link - Divertimento in D

- Aw2pp, who respects The Pouch.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cat people need not apply

I defy you to watch this without smiling, or even laughing quietly to yourself. Me, I didn't make it past 15 seconds. Tell me how you did.

- Aw2pp, who does not own a dog, but has a 16 year old cat.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A post sure to annoy my wife

Not that I am in the market, mind you... but if I were...

Astin-Weight upright on Craigslist

Now, let me pause for a moment, and allow the Voice of Reason to guest-blog. Welcome, VoR!

Thank you, Aw2pp. It's a pleasure to be here. You don't allow me around much, so I will enjoy my pulpit while I can.

Better pianos will come along later. You will be in a better position, financially speaking, to purchase a better piano, later. These are unassailable facts. If you wait until later, you might even be in a position to score one of those Charles Walters you like so much, gently used. What will you do then, if you've already bent over backwards for this monster?

Besides, an $850 piano does not cost $850. There's the tech inspection, moving, follow-up tuning and technical work it is sure to need... the ad itself says some of the keys stick. Why would you...

And that's enough for today's contribution from our guest blogger, the Voice of Reason. But wow, unless they left the thing outside for the last three Winters, that seems like an awful lot of piano for $850.

- Aw2pp, who has no discipline.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Turning attention now to Le Onde

I mentioned recently (or at least I thought I did) that, during my preparation for Recital 17, I figured out why it is taking me so long to get through Alfred's Book 2. It's the darn recitals, which co-opt my attention for a month or so at a time. Where I am in Book two (Brahm's Lullaby, thanks for asking) is not a particularly challenging section of the book. I should be polishing off pieces once a week. But that is hard to do when I am recording, recording, recording, re-learning, recording...

I think we have a solution. My ABF Recital 18 piece, as you know, will be Le Onde. On May 15, which is when I will most likely submit the piece, I will have been working on it for 5 months. That should be plenty of time to prepare in a measured way, while still giving token attention to Alfred's. I'm going to focus on clearing 6 Alfred's pieces a month, until further notice.

I like my chances.

- Aw2pp, Tae Kwo Do Yellow Belt. You heard me.