Woah, Nellie!

September 24, 2014|Posted in: Uncategorized

I am a slow-poke.  Notorious, in fact.  I walk slowly.  I am a fan of the slow food movement.  I have to keep from going below the speed minimum when driving long stretches of the interstate…

Did you say ‘vivace’?  How ’bout ‘andante’ instead?  Lento?  Even better!

So, sometimes, it’s hard for me to understand why a student would take a tune so000 fast upon seeing it for the first time.  Initially, when it happened, I was totally surprised.  Of course now it’s less of a shock, and leads to a great teaching opportunity, though it continues to baffle me a bit.

There’s so much pressure to perform when a teacher places a new piece on the stand.  I’m willing to bet most students don’t even see anything for a few seconds because the thoughts about the teacher’s expectations are zipping through their minds.  (I know that’s what happens for me!)  And then the teacher says something like “try it,” and it’s like someone set your pants on fire and the only way to put it out is to get to the last note on the page before it leaves you pants-less in front of a crowd of your peers.  AmIright?

I promise, it’s just you and me.  I’m not here to make fun of you.  Any mistake you make — I have made.  I’m here to get you past the embarrassment and onto the music!  So shake it off, breathe deeply, and think.

Think about what’s on the page.  Think about what the composer/editor/arranger tells you.

~What’s the key signature?
~Time signature?
~ Are there any accidentals?  (how do you play that note?)
~What beat does the piece begin with?
~Is it a pick up?
~How do you count the first line?
~Count that tricky rhythm again.
~What’s the tempo marking?
(hint: you’re going to take it slower than what’s marked)

SO MANY QUESTIONS!  Oh my gosh, I’m taking so much time!  Uugghh, they must think I’m so stupid!  (They don’t.)

Been there, done that.  Thing is, it only takes a matter of moments to take all of that information in.  Yes, it’s enough to slow you down.  And that’s just what you need.  You need to slow down.  It’s a good thing!

Don’t lose your fire, though!  We’re going to need that later on.  You’re going to bring the piece up to tempo, just not on the first try.

As for me, I’m pumping my metronome up another tick every day.  I’m lifting weights to build upper body strength.  I’m practicing a swifter bow stroke.  I’m working on it.  I’ll get there, slowly but surely.







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