Target tempo

Between 60 and 64 beats per quarter note, that’s where I want to end up on this thing. Right now, I’m hovering around low 50s and will probably need to sit there for a little longer. But my target is low 60s.


A little variety

Every now and then when you’re playing Debussy over and over (and liking it), doing the Leopold Mozart trick with yourself to inch up the metronome, you need to cleanse your palate:

You Gotta Believe

It’s like the Italian trick of eating a slice of orange with a titch of olive oil and black pepper sprinkled over it between courses. It just refreshes.

And you know, I continue to be shocked at the effectiveness of the Mozart trick. I use two little ceramic dishes (which I bought in a San Diego antique store as “personal ashtrays for dinner guests,” which tells you about when they were made) and ten pennies instead of dried peas, but the way this whole trick forces me to focus is always a revelation for me.

I should just always do it, instead of doing it, having an epiphany about how great it is, stopping doing it, and then being re-shocked every few years when I haul out the ashtrays and pennies again to work over a sticky spot. Just keep doing it, woman. Hopefully, the fact that I am taking lessons and have an esteemed someone for whom I am expected to improve will help the “peas+metronome” epiphany stick for good this time.


The first bits on the Arabesque are driving me nuts. I need to reach around a string to keep from buzzing in two similar cases, and sometimes I can get it without trying. Sometimes, I cannot make it work if my life depends on it. And I can’t figure out why. I do something that works five times in a row, and then when I sit down and try to do it again, it fails five times in a row.

Plainly, I am not sussing out what makes this work correctly.

I think I’m going to try the Leopold Mozart trick tonight when I get home and see how that does. Otherwise, I’ve got to ask my teacher when I see her this week.

Jeez, I’m only nine bars into this thing, and I’ve already got six months of work on my plate.

Pozzoli, Ortiz, and the First Arabesque

So my teacher asked me to pick up a couple collections by Ortiz, the Pozzoli studi medie, and started me on Salzedo’s arrangement of the First Arabesque. I sort of blew out his fingering in places, but he’s dead so he’s not going to complain. 🙂

I feel like I might be turning into a real harp student.

I also figured out a kind of inchworming technique in the very beginning of the Arabesque that makes it easier to play without buzzing, where instead of placing in one direction and then in the other, I replace the fingers on the correct strings as I go down. This isn’t something I’d do if I were moving quickly, but it’s a slow piece, so I’m okay and it feels comfy and buzzless.

The issue is that it comes and goes, and that out of the first nine measures that my teacher has asked me to work on, my brain has trouble stitching them together into one continuous bit. There’s the first bit, which involves avoiding buzzing and making some reaches, and there’s the second bit, which involves:

  1. Counting 3 against 2, which isn’t really that bad,
  2. Blowing Salzedo’s fingering out in the left hand because he does several things that make absolutely no sense there, and
  3. keeping my right hand from climbing the harp.

I should add that his right-hand fingering in that section makes much more sense, but that I had to derive it on my own. The left hand, though? No sense at all, and the best way to do it is to use mostly 1 and 2 in the Eb section, and then 1-3-2-1 in the Cm section.

It’s fun — but it’s a lot to keep conscious of, and still think musically. And it’s also occurred to me that part of the problem is that I hear the stupid thing in 6/8, at least the very beginning. It’s in 4/4. Only my weird triplet-loving noodle could possibly parse a 4/4 piece as 6/8. I could parse a Sousa march in 6/8.

In other words, I’m enjoying myself. 🙂