August 2022

On Trouble-shooting in Practice and Rehearsal

I mentioned a while back that I’ve been practising the piano regularly in 2022 for the first time in years. This has entailed a combination of reconnecting with past pianistic past skills gone rusty and developing skills in new ways that weren’t accessible to the younger me at previous stages in my musical journey.

It has also involved a parallel process of rediscovery and development in regard to the processes of practising. Last time I worked in any kind of structured way at the piano (as opposed to just playing the instrument every so often…and less and less often over the years…) I didn’t have the years of teaching and rehearsal experience I do now. So, I’m finding all kinds of interesting interchanges between my life helping others grow as musicians and my own efforts to re-establish some level of competence.

On the Wisdom of Undine Smith Moore

walkerhillI have been reading Helen Walker-Hill’s splendid book From Spirituals to Symphonies: African-American Women Composers and their Music, and learning many enlightening things. Today I’m going to share with you some of the thoughts of Undine Smith Moore. I already knew I liked her music, but it turns out that she was also a percipient cultural critic with many insights to share.

Two particular thoughts leapt out from Walker-Hill’s account, both to do with the way those who are excluded from a dominant culture can have a clearer view of that culture than those who are inside it. I’ll quote at length because the clarity of expression is part of what makes her clarity of thought so palpable:

The Lime Pickle Principle

My original plan was to use the actual label for today’s concept as my title, and use lime pickle as my primary metaphor to illustrate it. But after staring at a blank screen for a while I realised I don’t actually have a clear, precise label for this idea, so I’m going with Lime Pickle Principle as my title until I get this figured out. A label may emerge during the act of writing of course, but I won’t be bothered by then to go back and change the title and first paragraph so you’re stuck with the metaphorical title for now.

This concept emerged whilst coaching Amersham A Cappella the other week. The song we were working on is a really interesting one, in which the persona is incredibly vivid and engaging, but there are occasional whiffs that they might actually have a bit of a nasty streak to them. And this bit of friction in the sympathy is part of what makes it so engaging: you really want to identify with them, but also you’re a bit uncomfortable when you do.

...found this helpful?

I provide this content free of charge, because I like to be helpful. If you have found it useful, you may wish to make a donation to the causes I support to say thank you.

Archive by date

Syndicate content