This post by Noa Kageyama really resonates with me. From Taffanel & Gaubert and Moyse studies, to Andersen etudes, to Bach Sonatas, to the piles of orchestral repertoire – all of which, by the way, still occupy space on my music stand on a regular basis even after all these years – I am always in search of a new way to approach them. Two of my mentor teachers, Robert Patrick and Clem Barone used to insist upon keeping Andersen etudes as a part of my daily flute regimen, reworking them and keeping them fresh. My Dad used to tell me to approach them as if they were short, unaccompanied solo pieces and play them as musically as possible.
The other day, when I said to a friend that one of the things I needed to do that day was to practice, she asked “what are you working on?” I replied that I was simply working on my regular ‘day to day’; to get better. I don’t need something to “work on” to practice. I mean, I have plenty to work on with out having something to work on. I practice because it’s what I do. Dad taught me well by example; he had the most amazing work ethic of anyone I have ever known. He was still practicing his violin, weak and feeling truly awful from the effects from chemo and radiation, just weeks before he died. Whether it was tearing apart cadenzas from the major concerti, fastidiously tuning double stops in Paganini Caprices, or the tried and true Bach Sonatas and Partitas … ALL from memory, he was always working on something. He was retired from the DSO and really didn’t have to practice everyday anymore … but he did. Everyday.
I practice those T & G and Moyse studies, and Andersen etudes and dozens of orchestral excerpts regularly because I want to get better just for the sake of getting better. AND if along the way, from time to time, a new way to turn a phrase presents itself, cool! I agree 100% with Fleisher’s recommendation to revisit scores. Sitting down with a great recording and its score may be considered by some to be a little music nerd-esque, but it’s an awesome way to really hear a piece again and approach it with a fresh pair of eyes and ears, not to mention, a great way to gain some inspiration, too. Side note, I am so sooo excited to meet and work with Noa this June at the Andover Educators International Conference in Ames, Iowa.
p.s. Thank you, Dad, Clem and Mr. Patrick.