July 23, 2003
Vol. III, No. 22
All day I've been trying to remember an audio clip I heard years ago from the Jack Benny radio show. He's at his violin lesson and butchering "Glow Worm" I think. Finally, his teacher, played by the late Mel Blanc, interrupts and asks, "Mr. Benny, do you practice every day?" Jack Benny answers "Oh, yes," to which his teacher replies, "How can you stand it!"
Anyway, every year I think I'm going to get so much done over the summer. Somehow I convince myself that I'll have all this extra time. If anything, it's the exact opposite. It's hard enough to maintain repertoire without sunshine encroaching on your practice time. So with summer half over and my good intentions being reduced to paving stones, if you know what I mean, I had to do something. Some of my pieces were getting ragged around the edges and I was in danger of losing some altogether.
My only recourse was to buckle down and do some focused practicing. Fortunately, playing Bach is like riding a bike. As you play through a piece, it all starts coming back to you. Then again, just because you can get on a bike and pedal doesn't mean you're ready for a marathon. Because I have only two intensive practice sessions per week and have to make good use of my time, I consulted WORKSHOP #2: "Avoid the 'Full-time Job, No Time to Practice' Blues!"
Tonight I had a little less than an hour to practice so here's how I used my time:
1. Played through the hymns for the service tonight.
2. As insurance, played two times through the solo accompaniment for this Sunday that I had learned this past Sunday.
3. Played once through the G Minor Fugue (BWV 578) from memory. This is one piece I never want to lose so I almost always play through it at least once per session.
4. Last Sunday I spent about 45 minutes refreshing the Prelude and Fugue in C Major (BWV 545) for this Sunday's postlude. Tonight I played through it twice with a moderate registration, polishing spots along the way. Then I played it a third time with my normal postlude registration without any stopping.
5. I played through the Toccata of the F Major (BWV 540) starting after the opening cadenzas. This is for a week from Sunday if I can get it back together. I still have two more sessions until then, which is good because it needs a lot of work. But it's started.
6. Finally I played twice through the Fugue of the D Minor (BWV 539), up to the point that I have it memorized so far. There wasn't time to add on to the memory, and what I added on last Sunday hasn't solidified yet. Playing what I already have memorized will keep the piece in a state of suspended animation until I can get back to it. I won't make progress but I also won't lose it all together.
Time's up!. All we can do is use well the time we have. Good advice--at or away from the organ. Enjoy the summer!
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Added are Bond Organ Builders, Opus 30, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Seattle, Washington and E. M. Skinner, Op. 528, First United Methodist Church, Oak Park, Illinois
Have a great week!
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